Outside of the independent circuit, it would be safe to say that cinema is no longer a director's medium. The studio executives that bankroll these projects now have the power to overrule the director at almost every turn, which frequently leads to the filmmakers being forced to compromise their artistic and creative vision. In recent years, that problem has been somewhat remedied by the home video market and the advent of the Director's Cut.
These versions, along with extended and/or unrated editions, are often a chance to see a markedly different version of the movie than the one that hit theaters, or in some cases just an opportunity to rake in a few extra bucks. While The Lord of the Rings extended editions expand upon already-great movies, three different cuts of Oliver Stone's Alexander still failed to cover the movie's basic shortcomings.
Similarly, people argue over which version of Blade Runner, Terminator 2 or Apocalypse Now is the definitive version of the movie, but all three were undisputed classics to begin with. Even the mere mention of George Lucas' tinkering with the original Star Wars trilogy can send people into a frenzy. This article will take a look at ten movies that were greatly improved by the release of a Director's Cut. Whether it be studio interference, watering down the content to appeal to a wider audience or a difference in creative vision between the key players, these movies are all greatly inferior in their theatrical form.
While a lot of these movies are by no means classics, the common thread is that all ten benefited massively from an extended edition, so read on and see if you agree.
10. Waterworld (1995)
At the time of release the most expensive movie ever made, Kevins Reynolds and Costner re-teamed for this hugely ambitious $175m post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Waterworld would go on to become one of the ten biggest hits of 1995 with a box office total of nearly $265m, so it isn't the outright flop many think it to be.
And while the final product is wildly uneven and disjointed, it isn't as terrible as people think it is either. While it hardly turns Waterworld into a classic, the 177 minute extended cut of the movie is nonetheless a marked improvement on the theatrical release. One of the most tortured productions in Hollywood history, the movie was surrounded by bad buzz long before the release date and while the theatrical version is desperately lacking in character development and a logical plot, it does boast some stunning production design and a couple of entertaining action sequences.
Building on this, the extended version adds over 40 minutes of new footage and shores up many of the narrative's gaping plot holes, while also providing more depth and motivations for the characters instead of rushing through the story to get to the next set-piece. The extended cut also offers an alternate ending that arguably ties things up a lot better than the one that was seen in theaters.
It's still by no means a great movie, but the extended cut of Waterworld turns an ambitious misfire into an entertaining slice of escapism.
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