Sunday, February 18, 2007

Film Marketing Part I: Director’s Cuts

I’ve been real busy lately, too busy to write any reviews, but I wanted to get something on here so return viewers would have something to read. This will be the first in a three part series. The following two will hopefully be out tomorrow and the day after that.

For some time I’ve thought about what makes a good Director's Cut and what makes a bad one, and in some instances I’m truly stumped.

Some Director's cuts just make a film better than it already was. Blade Runner, while not quite a "real" director's cut is better than the theatrical version. I know Scott wants to work on it again, but is being stopped by one of the Producers (the guy who owns Univision, the Spanish speaking channel, I think). Another (which isn't quite referred to as a Director's Cut) is Aliens. It makes the film much better. A re-cut of a film can take a movie that was average or mediocre and make it so much better.

Take Daredevil for example. The film was a PG-13 disaster which was missing overall cohesion between scenes. It felt completely chopped up. Thankfully one of the producers of the film, Gary Foster, does not have final say in what was released in the rated R version, as the new version was substantially better. Foster has been put on record about how the Director’s Cut pretty much “doesn’t exist”, and the frustration of director Mark Steven Johnson can be seen in the cutting room during various behind-the-scene specials. The director’s cut restored many scenes and actually made the confrontation with Kingpin make sense towards the end, instead of it being some loose haphazardly thrown together aside that the villain was finally “going down” for some vague, hard to connect reason.

Another film that was made much better was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Additional effects were added, other effects (which in some respects were not able to be done on either the budget or the time constraints given to them) were reworked, and original series sound effects were added instead of the grating late 70's “futuristic” sound effects. The film was finally rounded off with a much tighter editing job thanks to director Robert Wise. Yes, for those who didn’t know Robert Wise, the man who edited Citizen Kane, directed The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, The Sound of Music, and West Side Story, directed the first Star Trek film.

A brief mention of The Chronicles of Riddick is a good example of a film that was only helped with a extended version of the film. The story was fleshed out, and the 17 minutes of additional film helped strengthen the film’s plot and characters enough to explain away any minor faults the film had in pacing and storytelling.

There are other cuts of films that apparently do more harm than good, and I can only write from the comments others have made, but on good word I direct people to the extended version of The 40 Year Old Virgin, which apparently took a well paced film and made it a bloated, somewhat directionless film.

I won’t bother mentioning any bad films that had equally miserable extended/director’s cuts, as that would be a complete waste of time. There are many other examples of good or even bad films that have had a better extended or director’s cut made of it, but I could then go on forever, and my job does not permit me to do such a thing.

1 comment:

Matt Ramone said...

I've often believed in the supreme artistic vision of the individual. It's difficult to be innovative by committee. I think one creative person, operating on their own vision (with non-binding editorial input) can often creating works that far surpass what would make it through the studio process.

Of course, you always have to worry about egomaniacs or hacks in the guise of autuers. Why did the Beatles make good music while their solo albums all blow? Because the only person who can tell Paul McCartney "no" is John Lennon. I think there's a difference between giving Richard Linklater and Richard Donner full creative control, but it's a tough call for the studios to make, especially with millions of dollars at stake.