5 Directors Cut Movies Better Than the Original

Posted by: TheDude

Rare is the film where the director's cut is better than the film unspooled before your eyes in the theatre. Usually the director's cut tends to be slower and focus on more boring aspects of the narrative. Sometimes, they can be incredibly self-indulgent and pretentious. The point is, there's usually a reason why the unsuspecting public never gets to see the cut until the ancillary market of home video, and even then you have to question the reasoning behind it's release. (Oh right, it's money).

Occasionally, though, a director's cut will slip through the cracks to make a good movie even better. This brings much delight to the movie geek and the casual observer alike. Sometimes there's more to explore in a film that the original two hours wouldn't allow the first time around. For this, we are grateful. To honor this, I have compiled what I consider to be the best of the best.

Now, I'm not referring to the cash-grab tactics of the "Unrated" cut that's "Not shown in theaters". You know the one, where there's an extra two minutes added, none of which are really good but has a few extra seconds of gore and/or nudity. I'm talking about movies that are significantly altered by the inclusion (or deletion) of scenes and characters. As I said, rare are the good ones, but these are the ones that you should definitely check out in addition to (or instead of) the original release.

BLADE RUNNER- FINAL CUT: There exist so many different cuts of Blade Runner, that it's pretty ridiculous. Hell, even the latest incarnation shows they've had enough and put it right in the title: The Final Cut. But damn, is it worth it. On top of the restored picture and enhanced FX (that's how you do it properly, Mr. Lucas), Ridley Scott's brilliant futuristic-noir vision has taken the bits that worked from his 1992 director's cut and eliminated the chuff, to create the final version, and the one that actually makes me believe Blade Runner to be one of the best sci-fi films of all time. Well worth seeking out.

JFK: The movie that began the running joke that Oliver Stone is a conspiracy nut (And coincidentally, the only movie of his to feature such behavior as to warrant the joke in the first place), JFK tells the obsessive story of one man's quest for the truth behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The director's cut adds about 40 more minutes of detailed obsession, and all of it is riveting. I'm convinced Oliver Stone has yet to make a better movie than this one, his masterpiece, as he is in complete control of his arguments. Spellbinding entertainment and paranoia all rolled up into one terrific flick.

ALIENS : James Cameron always seems to make his movies too long. Almost every film of his has a director's cut. Some don't feature enough new things (Terminator 2) and some feature way too much (The Abyss) but the one that works best for me is the Aliens director's cut, found in the Alien Quadrilogy. Cameron describes it best in his intro as "40 miles of bad road" and "the ride he intended you to take". Every detail that's added back in works great, adding depth and nuance to certain things taken for granted, like the Ripley/Newt relationship. It also includes the awesome remote sentry guns sequence. Definitely the best of the Cameron bunch.

(Also of note in the Quadrilogy box set is the "Assembly Cut" of Alien 3, which is far better than the original release, though it doesn't count as a director's cut because of David Fincher's problems with the film in general)

WATCHMEN (DIRECTOR'S CUT, NOT ULTIMATE, CUT): Watchmen seemed to divide fans and non-fans alike. There are those who will vehemently defend the film to end, and there are faithful purists who think the film is an abomination. I maintain that it's the best film version of Watchmen we will ever get in our lifetimes, despite the fact that it's a property that doesn't really need to be a movie at all. (Not because the meaning of the book is lost by making it a movie, either). Thankfully, the director's cut addressed my original problems with the flick and actually works better. It has more room to breathe and meander, and it all works in a positive light. While not anymore insightful, it at least tells the story the best way possible.

(Note: I haven't seen the Ultimate cut, with the Tales of the Black Freighter cartoon interjected into scenes just like the book, but I assume that takes away rather than adds to the filmic Watchmen experience).

DAREDEVIL: There are countless other director's cuts out there, so why choose another comic book movie, especially one that stars Ben Affleck and is a rather mediocre Spiderman rip off? Because the director's cut actually makes a far better movie. I've not seen a movie that eliminates whole subplots that are necessary to distinguish the lead character from his superhero brethren. There are things in here that show Daredevil is a dark, conflicted human being. He does not take the role of superhero lightly as he dispenses his own brand of justice. Sure, a lot of silly things still remain, but the director's cut works far better than it has any right to, and has thus earned it's position on this list.


THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY: Yeah, the Lord of the Rings movies are pretty amazing, and the extended cuts of the movies are great with their details and additions. But they really just add more time and stuff. And it sadly begat the bloat of King Kong, and is responsible for Peter Jackson's "Why have two shots when we can have twelve to show something" ethos of late.

ROBOCOP: I can only note two significant changes, and they're both just the addition of more blood. (The first Ed-209 attack is as messy as a Gallagher show!) But it's Robocop, so you have to show love and respect.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my vote for the worst Director's Cut would be a toss up between Apocalypse Now Redux and Donnie Darko Director's cut. Apocalypse Now has a ridiculous scene about eating, and Darko makes the egregious mistake of admitting it has no clue what the hell is going on. For shame.


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