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5 Films Where the Director's Cut Is Inferior to the Original

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By Chris Kavan - 08/14/13 at 12:36 PM CT

I know film directors have every right to go back and meddle in their own affairs. Often, all that tinkering gives us a better product: more well-rounded characters, plot points better explained or just more of what we love. However, not every film benefits from this process. From unnecessary additions to bloated, over-long "epics" sometimes you're best left watching the original. Here are my picks for the films that are better left untouched.


Fellowship of the Ring photo FellowshipOpening_zps513c506d.jpg

Peter Jackson gave us the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy - plus hours upon hours of special features - to satisfy the fans of what has become one of the most popular fantasy series in our time. I admit, though they are quite long - I like the extended editions... for the most part. This is more a personal choice than the rest of the films on this list, but I find the inclusion of the "Concerning Hobbits" scene in the Fellowship have much less an impact than the original, shorter opening. Out of everything, this is the one that bothers me the most.


Apocalypse Now Redux photo ApocalpyseRedux_zpsf1188ebe.jpg

This is a case of adding more (nearly 50 minutes more) but not really adding anything of significance to the film itself. Too many long dialogue scenes that go nowhere, and a random USC show that adds misogyny but little more. The film was already nearly two hours long - the additional content really doesn't add much to the overall picture.


Donnie Darko photo DonnieDarko_zpsca6f4090.jpg

The original film was so good because it didn't spell everything out. It caused many heads to be scratched and many theories to be pondered. But Richard Kelly couldn't leave well enough alone. The Director's Cut fails because it makes the film less ambiguous. Sure, knowing more about the plot is usually a good thing... but not when the most interesting thing about your film is the lack of explanation. Some films are better left unknown and this is one of them.


ET photo ETGunsareBad_zps20e3dc21.jpg

When Steven Spielberg released the 20th Anniversary Edition of ET, he did so with some noticeable changes. ET was given a more expressive look (many say not for the better), some added scenes and, hilariously, the government officials had their guns replaced with Walkie-Talkies. Spielberg has since gone on to say that the Walkie-Talkie thing was a mistake, but makes no mention of some of the other questionable decisions. Eh, I still have the original and that's good enough for me.


Greedo Shoots First? photo Greedo_shoots_first_zpsbb69d24c.jpg

I could probably fill this entire article with things George Lucas could have left alone. But the one rallying cry of Star Wars purists is "Han Shot FIRST!" By making Greedo shoot first, Han's entire persona is changed from cool smuggler to decidedly less cool guy having a normal reaction to being shot at. I make no effort to hide the fact I'm a huge Star Wars fan - but even I find many of the changes to the original trilogy to be questionable - inserting Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi, changing Boba Fett's voice to Temuera Morrison and the mountains of CGI added in. I can't fault Lucas for having his own vision, but that doesn't mean I can't fault some of his choices.

Any films you find the Special Edition to be not-so-special after all? Let me know, I'd love to read your opinions.


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