Ridley Scott’s classic has become one of the world’s best science-fiction films ever made, with a huge cult following, supporting the story that has now recently seen its successor come to life, 35 years after its release. Visually innovative, it has influenced a lot of filmmakers, game designers and anime creators to step into the same shoes and explore the cyberpunk sub-genre, that is a central style displayed in the cinematography of “Blade Runner”.
Together with a tint of film noir through its voice-over narration and femme fatale, it takes its central look at humanity, in a world of genetic engineering that uses biotechnology to create its controlled society. Many have taken a similar route after or before this film was made, offering to all the cinema-lovers in the world a different story or a different perspective on the same elements we loved in the 1982 masterpiece. With that said, here is the list of movies similar to Blade Runner that are our recommendations. You can watch some of these movies like Blade Runner on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
14. Soylent Green (1973)
Directed by Richard Fleischer, this post-apocalyptic science-fiction movie is set in a time that is not so long ago from where we’re at now and features consequences of problems that are actually current dangers to our present and our future. In the year 2022, the world has become a dystopian society where overpopulation, pollution and global warming have taken the lead on every individual’s life. In a place where being homeless and resource-less is almost normality, a wealthy businessman part of the Solent Corporation (who nourishes the population with their plankton-based food production) is murdered. When Detective Thorn begins his investigation into the murder, he finds himself on the path to a secret, connected to the background and production methods of the gigantic company.
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13. Dune (1984)
After David Lynch rejected George Lucas’ offer to direct the third film of the Star Wars series, he nevertheless stuck to the science-fiction genre and went on directing a film based on Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune”. Although it didn’t do well at the box office and received negative response from the public, it’s a film that can be enjoyed by Lynch fans who understand his bizarre and often confusing way of leading a film, and whoever has heard of the successful novel’s story and is open for something different. Set in the future, the film sets its conflict around the desire of possession of a desert planet called “Dune”, who is known to be the only place providing a drug named “the spice”, an important substance for space traveling, life extension and the power of foreknowledge.
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12. Alien (1979)
Three years before Ridley Scott released his cult film, he directed “Alien”, which turned out to be another science-fiction icon, a dark and tense horror that initiated the beginning of a long and successful franchise. With Sigourney Weaver as the main protagonist and hero of the story, it brings you into the delicate and scary setting of a space vessel navigating back to earth. After the vessel’s computer detects a signal interpreted as a distress call, the crew lands on a planetoid only to find one of its members attacked by a strange living being. A hunt for the murderous creature begins, but nothing is easy when in the middle of nowhere as, like the movie says, “ in space no one can hear you scream”.
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11. The Matrix (1999)
One of the greatest science-fiction films of all times has to be “The Matrix” for sure. With a mind-blowing plot that question’s everyone’s perception of reality and truth, stylised cinematography and innovative special effects, the Wachowski Brothers have created an icon of modern cinema, which responds back to Scott’s masterpiece and its groundbreaking contribution to the genre. Influenced by various styles and topics, in which philosophy has a big role, it brings the dystopian rivalry between the human and the artificial, into a story where Neo (Keanu Reeves) leads the way.
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10. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
What a surprise it was, to receive a sequel to the science-fiction classic of Ridley Scott, more than 30 years after its release. Although it took a long time to be made, here it is to be enjoyed by all the “Blade Runner” fans and other curious cinephiles. Luckily, we got Harrison Ford back in the game, acting alongside Ryan Gosling who plays the lead character. While the original was set in 2019, this one is set in 2049 like the title conveys, and follows blade runner K (Gosling), a replicant who discovers a crucial secret that could cause a war between humans and his specie. In order to discover the origin of the past and protect the future, he must find former blade runner, the one and only, Rick Deckard.
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9. Logan’s Run (1976)
In a seemingly perfect utopia, technology and the hunt for pleasure proves to be an obstacle to peace and justice once more. Directed by Michael Anderson, “Logan’s Run” is set in the year 2274, where human civilisation lives in a closed and protected city run by a super-computer. In their pleasure-seeking lives, all individuals are allowed to do and receive whatever they dream and fantasise about. However, there is one catch : all must undergo a process at the age of 30 which kills them and “supposedly renews their lives”. Logan 5 is a Sandman who chases and kills the ones that try to escape, up until the moment he hits his life-clock’s finish line and becomes, too, a “Runner” fleeing from the system.
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8. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Based on the 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury, the story of “Fahrenheit 451” has a powerful message conveyed through a simple yet terrifying concept of the future. It’s François Truffaut’s only English-language film and the first project he directed in colour. With this story that is worldwide known for its importance in literature, we are once more merged into a dystopian society where an oppressive governments controls the lives of its citizens. How? By burning all existing books that could bring the population to think and revolutionise. Sounds familiar, am I right? In this point of view of future, history truly repeats itself. However, one of the firemen begins to think differently, questioning the world he lives in and the knowledge he’s destroying.
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7. The 5th Element (1997)
When we heard that Luc Besson’s latest space opera film became the most expensive European and independent film ever made, it wasn’t the only time he pushed his financial limits to the extreme in order to impress the world with his fantastic stories. When “The 5th Element” came out, it was then too, the most costly European production of all times, a big expense that was luckily well covered with its blockbuster success. Inspired by comic books and with the touch of Jean Paul Gautier’s costumes, Besson gave his whole being in telling this adventurous story, set in the distant future of the year 2263. With Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich on the screen, it brings you into a war between good and evil, where 5 elements are vital to the fate of planet Earth.
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6. Metropolis (1927)
Naturally, one couldn’t have left aside the mother of science-fiction cinema itself. Beyond being one of the pioneering films of the silent era, it has launched a multitude of productions and filmmakers into the exploration of this genre and the present perspective on the future. With a timeless theme and message, it is set in the not-so-far future of the year 2026, 100 years from the moment it was conceived. Fritz Lang brings to his audience a stylised urban world where utopia shines bright over a lower layer of poor and mistreated working-class individuals. In this unjust group-divided city, there’s the wealthy son of the city’s leader who realises the structure of the world he lives in, and together with Maria, an impoverished worker, decides to overcome these differences for a better future.
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5. Gattaca (1997)
Andrew Niccol wanted to make a movie about a dark not-so-distant-future and the dangers of the development of reproductive technologies. Simultaneously, pointing towards the idea that even when people’s lives are controlled and guided through a rigorous system, there is still chance, destiny and untameable consequences that can govern one’s path. With all that in minds, he created “Gattaca”, a film starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law, which is set in a world where eugenics are the core of society’s functioning. There’s the “valids”, conceived with genetic manipulation, on one side, and the “in-valids”, conceived traditionally on the other. Vincent Freeman is an in-valid, who’s dream of travelling to space can not be fulfilled due to his “class” and therefore, disadvantages. However, he finds a way to pose as a valid, by meticulously tricking the DNA tests, with the help of a donor.
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4. The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron’s action classic came out only 2 years after Ridely Scott’s innovative work, and was responsible for the launch of his career and the one of bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. Visually influenced by the cyberpunk look of the futuristic technologies, it gave the science-fiction audience another timeless classic, where chases and gunfights between human and robot fill the dark and rainy streets of the city. Set in Los Angeles 1984, it relates the iconic story of Sarah Connor , who is tracked down by a cyborg hitman sent from the future (2029), who’s only function and order is to the kill the woman who will give birth to his future enemy.
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3. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
Considered as one of the best anime films ever made, this Japanese science fiction who bases its story on a manga of the same name, has influenced a number of filmmakers in exploring the dystopian futuristic world of cybernetic technology. Praised for its visuals and philosophical depth, it includes into its story themes about memories and identity, that can timelessly be interpreted and discussed about. Set in Japan in the year 2029, we follow the hunt and self-discovery of Motoko Kusanagi, an assault-team agent, running after an obscure and dangerous hacker that goes by the name of the Puppet Master. Although controversial due to its casting choice, the 2017 live-action film of the same name also offers an amazingly well-executed visual experience of this story, with Scarlett Johansson as the lead.
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2. Total Recall (1990)
While “Blade Runner” is loosely inspired by one story of writer Philip K.Dick, “Total Recall” is inspired by another. Both share a dystopian future filled with technological innovations one couldn’t dream of having in real life a few decades ago. Imaginative and entertaining, it has got some great visual effects work and an award-winning musical score. Directed by Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead, this film honours the science-fiction genre with the story of a man who visits a clinic by the name of “Rekall” in order to buy a false memory of a trip to Mars, with the objective of fulfilling his fantasy, repeatedly present in his dreams. However, things take a turn to the worst when he realises that his life has been based on false memories from the start.
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1. Dark City (1998)
As dark as “Blade Runner” already is, this film will bring you a tint lower, into a story filled with visual and conceptual similarities to Scott’s science-fiction masterpiece. With influences from film noir and german expressionism, it will bring you back into the futuristic dystopian scene, where the search for identity in a controlled society is core to the story’s development. Starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer Connelly, it follows John Murdoch, a man who wakes up in a Hotel room with extreme amnesia, not knowing who he is. As he soon finds out that he is wanted for a number of murders he can not remember committing, he begins a pursuit for the truth which leads him into coming across the group of beings who control the society, called by the name of “The Strangers”.
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