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    8 Times The Director's Cut Of A Movie Was Clearly Superior, And 8 Times It Probably Wasn't Necessary

    "I haven't met anyone who goes back to the theatrical cut after watching it."

    There are commonly two versions of a movie: the one that's released in cinemas and the director's cut, an unabridged version of the film as the director intended it to be seen.

    Sometimes the director's cut totally enhances a movie, but sometimes it does the complete opposite. Here are eight times the director's cut made for a better film, and eight times it kind of made the movie worse.

    1. BETTER: Midsommar (directed by Ari Aster).

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    Synopsis: Hoping to get away from the trauma of her recent past, Dani takes a trip to Sweden with some mates and soon finds herself entrapped by a grisly pagan cult. As the Midsummer Festival approaches, will Dani make it out in one piece?

    Why it's better: Midsommar is one of those rare horror films where more was actually...well, more! I get why the theatrical version was shorter — a three-hour horror movie would be a hard sell not just for audiences but also for cinemas showing it! However, the director's cut is a prime example of how one scene or literally seconds of extra dialogue can make us relate to and empathise with a character so much more.

    2. WORSE — Donnie Darko (directed by Richard Kelly).

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    Synopsis: Donnie, a smart but troubled teen with a sleepwalking problem, encounters a strange figure in a white rabbit costume one night. The figure tells him the world will end in precisely 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. No one — not even Donnie — is aware of what is going on as the universe begins to unravel.

    Why it's worse: The theatrical version has this amazing sense of mystery about it, which isn't as present in the director's cut. The open-ended nature of the former left viewers with a ton of questions, and these are basically all answered in the unabridged version. I think, in the case of Donnie Darko, it was better to leave it up to the audience's imagination than to try and wrap everything up.

    3. BETTER — Blade Runner (directed by Ridley Scott).

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    Synopsis: The year is 2019, and former police officer Rick Deckard is pulled out of retirement to hunt down four escaped androids. It's all routine stuff for Rick until he meets Rachael, a new model of replicant. Soon he begins to question his job and his very existence.

    Why it's better: It's the ~exact~ film that director Ridley Scott wanted to make from day one; the entire meaning of the film and ending is changed! Gone is the horrendous voiceover that Harrison Ford didn't even want to do, and so is the ending where everything is suddenly fine. My advice — make sure you watch Scott's 2007 Final Cut!

    4. WORSE — Apocalypse Now (directed by Francis Ford Coppola).

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    Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, a US Army captain is tasked with terminating a colonel who has gone rogue and begun a guerrilla war without the permission of his commanders. It's a daunting mission, and neither the captain nor his boat crew are prepared for the madness and horrors they'll encounter.

    Why it's worse: The first cut is perfect; its 150 minutes runtime doesn't feel its length at all! Then came the "redux" edition, which is just... 🥴. This cut drags on, adding scenes that make you realise why it took 16 months to film this movie. A third cut of the movie has the film grind to a halt with a trip to a French plantation that — while not terrible per se — slows the film's pitch-perfect pacing somewhat.

    5. BETTER — Lord of the Rings (directed by Peter Jackson).

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    Synopsis: When the Ring of Sauron is found, hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an epic quest to cast it into the fiery Mount Doom. With the help of an eclectic fellowship of fellow hobbits, elves, men, and dwarfs, Frodo takes on the corrupting influence of the ring and begins his epic journey across Middle Earth.

    Why it's better: Cramming more book details into a film is often a recipe for disaster, but not having to worry about the attention span of a cinema audience allowed Peter Jackson to put back in a lot of ~essential~ material. The director's cut features great scenes of character development, more narrative buildup, and some super-important scenes that you could just feel were missing before. I haven't met anyone who goes back to the theatrical cut after watching it.

    6. WORSE — E.T. (directed by Steven Spielberg).

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    Synopsis: A young boy feels lost and isolated after the breakdown of his family life. He soon encounters someone experiencing the same emotions — an alien who has been stranded on Earth! Initially they are terrified of each other, but soon the pair learn to understand each other. However, when the alien decides he wants to return to his family, things take a precarious turn.

    Why it's worse: I don't quite know why it's a bad thing for an '80s movie to look like an '80s movie? In any case, director Steven Spielberg released a later version of this classic and decided to replace practical effects with CGI. This special edition also removed a couple of jokes and anything not family-friendly; for instance, the guns worn by a couple of security guards were changed to walkie-talkies. Thankfully, Spielberg realised it was unwise to change it this much and has since made the theatrical version available for purchase.

    7. BETTER — Kingdom of Heaven (directed by Ridley Scott).

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    Synopsis: In 1184, against a backdrop of the Crusades, a French blacksmith flees his village after committing a terrible crime. He travels to Jerusalem to take up his father's mantle as Baron of Ibelin. There he is thrust into a world of political intrigue and religious war, in which he attempts to form alliances, defend the innocent, and broker peace between two obstinate opposing forces.

    Why it's better: Ridley Scott just can't seem to catch a break! Studio executives wanted to turn this smart historical epic into something more akin to Gladiator, and in doing so, it turned a legit masterpiece into a meh action film. The director's cut adds around 40 minutes back in, and it literally completes the film! The characters make way more sense, and Orlando Bloom's performance goes from fine to fooooooine.

    8. WORSE — Star Wars (directed by George Lucas).

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    Synopsis: A simple farm boy desperate to get off the desert planet Tatooine comes across two droids in a market. He is soon propelled onto an epic journey in which he rubs arms with smugglers, fights an evil empire, learns the power of the Force, and...well, you know the rest!

    Why it's worse: George Lucas's never-ending quest to edit his previous films is a prime example of how bad a director's cut can be. I mean, it's as if he looked at the original films and thought, How can I make this worse in every aspect? The special editions look awful and ruin the pace of many scenes. Putting CGI on the original film negatives also means it's unlikely we'll ever see those original versions officially released again.

    9. BETTER — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (directed by Zack Snyder).

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    Synopsis: In the wake of Superman's battle with General Zod (as seen in Man of Steel), the hero's antics have divided public opinion about him. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, has witnessed the destructive effects of the battle, and therefore forms a personal vendetta against Superman. Now the famous Kryptonian must contend with a conspiracy against him, as well as a new super rival.

    Why it's better: This whole film — courtesy of director Zack Snyder — felt a little bit like a rushed attempt to build the DC Cinematic Universe (remember that lol?). The theatrical version was silly and boring, but the Ultimate Edition adds in some mildly interesting things like establishing shots and more blood in the fight scenes. Essentially, we go from nonsensical to at least watchable, but still not great.

    10. WORSE — The Hobbit trilogy (directed by Peter Jackson).

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    Synopsis: Bilbo Baggins just wants a nice, quiet life, but Gandalf the Grey has other plans. One night, a band of dwarfs appear on Bilbo's doorstep, and the next thing he knows, they're all journeying into a dragon's lair!

    Why it's worse: It's basically the complete opposite of The Lord of the Rings — I want less! By all accounts, so did director Peter Jackson, who has admitted he didn't really know what he was doing on set. More to the point, The Hobbit is a tiny book (293 pages), so WHO knows why it needed to be split into three films! The Extended Edition was basically just more disappointment.

    11. BETTER — Justice League (directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon).

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    Synopsis: With Superman "dead", the world is vulnerable. A new threat emerges that has the potential to wipe out life as we know it. Batman — knowing about the impending doom — has slowly been gathering a team that might help stave off extinction. However, he first needs to get them together and bring back Superman before it’s too late.

    Why it's better: As with Blade Runner, the not–theatrically released cut is actually the film Zack Snyder wanted to make. A family tragedy meant he had to step down from directing duties, and the "Snyder Cut" — as it's been called — became more of a myth and a meme.

    The version originally released in theatres was overseen by Joss Whedon and completely changed the vision Snyder had in mind for the movie. Later, HBO Max released Zack Snyder's Justice League, a four-hour cut that improved both the characterisation and the narrative of the movie. Many felt it was superior to the 2017 original, and fans were happy that Snyder was able to reclaim his work.

    12. WORSE — The Warriors (directed by Walter Hill).

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    Synopsis: In a future version of New York City, gangs are everywhere and they pretty much run the show. When a popular gang leader rises up to unite them all and take New York, he's suddenly killed, and the blame falls on a small gang: the Warriors. Soon the gang must fight all of their newfound enemies to find their way home.

    Why it's worse: They added comic book transitions...that's it. There's nothing else, but here we are.

    13. BETTER — Close Encounters of the Third Kind (directed by Steven Spielberg).

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    Synopsis: An eccentric who has a fascination with space and alien life forms has a bizarre encounter of the third kind that changes his life. As he begins to experience strange visions, reports of many others like him start to pop up. His hunt for answers puts him on the path of a woman who claims her son was abducted by aliens; soon their lives are upended by a shocking discovery.

    Why it's better: Broadly speaking, there are three versions of Close Encounters: the theatrical version (1977), the Special Edition (1980), and the Collector's Edition (1998). Director Steven Spielberg regards the Collector's Edition as the "real" version of the film, and IMHO, he's right.

    Because of financial problems, Columbia Pictures was desperate to release Close Encounters as soon as possible, meaning that many scenes Spielberg had scripted could not be included first time round. For the Special Edition, Spielberg was allowed to recut the film and shoot additional parts, but only if he showed the inside of the spaceship so that the studio had something to hang a marketing campaign on.

    Years later, Spielberg released the Collector's Edition, which kept all of his brilliant additions but removed the interior of the alien ship, something he always maintained should've been left to the imagination!

    14. WORSE — Leon the Professional (directed by Luc Besson).

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    Synopsis: Mathilda, a 12-year-old orphan, teams up with Leon, a retired assassin who just wants to water his house plants. Leon teaches the young girl his trade as she prepares to enact vengeance upon the corrupt DEA agent who murdered her family.

    Why it's worse: All the extra scenes push the film from controversial to just indefensible, making the relationship between the two leads way more...icky. That's all I'll say about it.

    15. BETTER — The New World (directed by Terrence Malick).

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    Synopsis: In 1607, an English settler by the name of John Smith is captured by Native Americans and spared after the intervention of Pocahontas. As their relationship blossoms, tensions grow between the Native American people and the English colonists in this tale that brings together myth and historical fiction.

    Why it's better: The theatrical cut wasn't bad per se, but with a filmmaker this well regarded and a narrative of this level of cultural significance, you want to give the story the time it deserves! The director's cut of this historical epic is wayyyy more immersive, and its gorgeous cinematography comes off much better than in the cinematic version.

    16. WORSE — Alien 3 (directed by David Fincher).

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    Synopsis: When Ellen Ripley crash-lands in a penal colony, she inadvertently unleashes the all-too-familiar Xenomorphs on the unwitting prisoner population. Even if you are vaguely aware of the Alien franchise, you probably know how it goes from here. This entry in the series has a Xenomorph dog, though, which is pretty cool.

    Why it's worse: It was being filmed while the script was being written. It had a release date before the script was finished. It was released, unsurprisingly, unfinished. Legendary director David Fincher's first film had already been through a revolving door of writers and directors; he had no control, and producers were ringing him up every night over the most mundane creative choices. He was later asked to do a director's cut for the series box set, and he basically said that a director's cut would involve reshooting the entire film.

    Do you agree with my opinions? Sound off in the comments!