The Most Unnecessary Director’s Cuts in Film
An extended release of the Justin Bieber movie reminds us: Sometimes you shouldn’t fix things that aren’t broken, and sometimes, especially, those that are.
The kid’s pretty definitely the most vanilla millionaire pop act this side of Donny Osmond – and we’ve been down this road of late, however unwittingly – but there’s no denying that Justin Bieber demands attention, or at the very least, has it.
Hence the not-at-all surprising release of a director’s cut for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, the 3-D documentary of the blondest muppet-human in the universe. (Unless, of course, you consider Mark Zuckerberg blond.) It managed to rake in another $2.4 million dollars its first weekend in theaters. The difference between the two movies? One of them was retooled to run just about five minutes longer than the original film. (Unless, of course, you want to go check for more
details. Feel free.)
The director’s cut, now almost thirty years in the re-running, is a niche annoyance to all but the most dedicated fanboy – and often little more than a DVD cash-grab. Yet Bieber’s film (if you can call it that) is far from the only director’s cut designed to squeeze out some extra bucks from the Kool-Aid drunk among us. Take, for example:
– Star Wars “Special Editions”: The reigning king of worthless director’s cuts. When George Lucas handled the re-release of the original Star Was trilogy in 1997, he spent millions of dollars adding CGI where it wasn’t needed, which of course looks terrible 14 years after the fact. He also extended the length of each film slightly with sequences like the “Jedi Rocks” musical number in Return of the Jedi, which featured a distressingly sexualized Sy Snootles belting strange and horrible alien music from her “incredibly long lip stalk.”
– Pearl Harbor: The Director’s Cut: Plausible arguments against more Kate Beckinsale are hard to come by, but here’s one: a bloated 195 minutes padded with more swell action shots of American soldiers getting pulverized rather than something – anything – of substance. Like considerably more Kate Beckinsale.
– Donnie Darko: Richard Kelly expanded his cult hit by 20 minutes for a theatrical re-release, taking the piss out of the original with didactic explanations of the plot’s time-travel elements. Problem being, of course, that we came for the creepy bunny suit and pedo-Swayze, not an encyclopedic breakdown of wormholes.
– Natural Born Killers: Sorry, Ollie, but 119 minutes of gratuitous violence and sex is, as it turns out, not much different than 123 minutes of gratuitous violence and sex.
– Yentl: Even the concept of deleted footage stored away in “Barbra’s Archives” seems unnecessary.
– Brasil: Not that it’s already difficult enough to suss out what, exactly, is happening in Terry Gilliam’s – okay, brilliant – dystopian fantasy, but somebody tried to condense it for television in a version 37 minutes shorter than Gilliam had intended, with a new, “happier” ending to boot.
– Watchmen: If you want to watch an extra 24 minutes of the 162-minute movie about Billy Crudup’s glowing blue atomic penis, by all means, let someone know how it goes. We’re okay not being that someone.
– Blade Runner: There are so many different versions of this film, it’s hard to tell if Ridley Scott himself can tell where the line gets drawn between robots and whatever Harrison Ford is.