Posted by : Wendy B Monday, 23 January 2012

There are a few movies that, when they happen to be on TV, we can’t help but watch. Some are the movies that slip through the cracks for whatever reason. The Losers, Serenity, Master and Commander, Star Trek, Tristan + Isolde, Red, King Arthur, Pitch Black (and even Chronicles of Riddick). Some, perhaps, have earned more rotten tomatoes than stars, but no matter. We like them. So there.

 Kingdom of Heaven is also on our regular watch list and it happened to be on, yet again, this weekend. This one is more for my husband, though we both yell “GOD WILLS IT!” to aid in our arguments when necessary, so I joked about him watching it for the 100th time. However, it turns out we were watching a completely different movie those other 99 times.

AMC aired the director’s cut and, we discovered, there had been a whoooooole lotta cuttin’ done. As in, 50%. Why bother to make an epic four hour movie if you're just going to literally chop out half of it? It's not like people are completely opposed to sitting in a theatre for a long time. Granted, I did leave Kenneth Branagh's self-indulgent Hamlet after intermission, but I'd most certainly have sat through a Ridley Scott film!

J had noticed a few little things previously, such as an actor showing up in, apparently, a different role later in the film or the mention of a son that was never seen, but we just passed them off as the producers saving a few bucks here and there by reusing or not using actors. But it turns out there was a son. And that guy was there for a reason. And that other guy who got carted off in the end? Oh he came back. And – hell, there were huge chunks of the movie that had been edited out for whatever reason and, while the film was fine in the shortened form, the added scenes took the film to a whole new level.

I know movies have to be cut down for various reasons, not the least of which is time constraints, but I wonder how many movies could have been that much better if someone else had been in charge of the cutting room? How many movies have suffered the indignity of people who Just Don’t Get It, but are in a position to call the shots anyway? I understand Christian Bale didn’t like the idea of his character, John Connor, dying in Terminator: Salvation. (Could that ending have saved the movie? Probably not, but it was a far more interesting and brave concept to undertake). The Clash of the Titans we saw probably had a few of its more story and character enhancing moments scrapped to make room for the 3D stick:
Probably the most interesting thing I learned is that there’s a significantly different cut of the film in the vault. Louis Leterrier’s original version of Clash of the Titans differs from what’s playing in theaters in some fairly major ways, and while some of it could be restored for the DVD release, much of it would need extra FX work and would drastically change the plot of the film. Unlike last summer’s Terminator Salvation, which got messed around with in the script stage and on set, Clash of the Titans was largely changed after principal photography through editing and some widely reported reshoots – all of which included Leterrier.
To some, Sucker Punch was a glorified sex and violence film promoting rape culture, but the deleted scenes offer that much more insight for those who care to look deeper. LOTR certainly didn’t need to be any longer, but I was sad, after seeing how moving it was, that the scene where Theoden learns of his son’s death had been removed for the theatrical release.

And then there’s Stephen Spielberg ADDING a whole new ending to A.I. to make it Hollywood happy, despite the blue fairy ending that was so bitter sweet and perfect.

Worse still, the Robin Hood that Ridley Scott recently gave us should have been a really interesting story based on The Sheriff of Nottingham, by Richard Kluger, but instead we got a rather dull adventure, despite the reasonably good actors, that apparently saved money by sharing with Pillars of the Earth.
[Russell] Crowe was eager to make the movie, but neither he nor Scott liked the Nottingham script’s unconventional focus on the Sheriff ... which sounds a bit like saying, "I love this Crying Game, but can't the lady just be a lady?" And so the director turned to screenwriter Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, 8 Mile) to morph Nottingham into a more traditional Robin Hood tale. (Interviewed in the Sunday Times of London in April of this year, Scott told a reporter that the original premise was “fucking ridiculous” and that “you’d end up spending 80% of the publicity budget explaining why it was Nottingham and not just Robin Hood.”) Hired in the spring of 2008, Helgeland rewrote the script to tell the tale of Robin assuming the identity of the Sheriff of Nottingham after seeing him slain in battle. Hey, he's the medieval Don Draper! (Source)
You better not pull this crap with Prometheus, Mr. Scott. I'm watching you!

3 Responses so far.

  1. Paul says:

    Ah, yes, Hollywood and the nature of films. I actually like both versions of Brazil, one of my favorite movies, but the Hollywood ending works for me. In the original, no happy ending. But most of the time, when you read about how directors originally wanted movies to end versus how they were forced to end it, it makes you ill. The commercials for Clash of the Titans made it seem like man was fighting back against powerful, capricious gods. Instead, it turned into man working for them, poorly.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. My husband and I accidentally went to see it in 3D (my brother had warned us not to, but it was late when we went and we chose by time, not by dimension). I recall us joking about how the main actor was basically just reprising his role from Terminator. "I'm human!" Oh and the scorpions in the sand were reprising their role from Transformers!

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I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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