Large's Ark

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9.7
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9.0
This is the first fanedit that feels entirely like an alternate version of a movie to me. I am a huge music fan and one thing I love to hear are alternate takes of songs. They never replace the original, but the best ones stand right alongside the originals on equal footing. That is how I feel about this version of Garden State. If this had been the theatrical release, and the soundtrack release, I believe it would have gotten the same acclaim and the soundtrack would have won a Grammy, as the actual Garden State soundtrack did. The scenes that were added back into the movie worked perfectly for this edit. I can see why they were cut from the other version, and either works. I feel like this is quite a wishy-washy review so far.... Let me say some things about the excellent music choices throughout: I loved every song. It helps that I've owned all these songs for years and I could have compiled the soundtrack myself from my pre-existing record collection, but it was great to hear Saint Agnes and the Burning Train kicking things off and then Aimee Mann and a slew of other great tracks. One of my favorite songs ever has been cut in this version--Only Living Boy In New York by Simon and Garfunkel---and I have to say, I couldn't agree more with you decision L8wrtr. It is an excellent song and I see why Zach Braff chose it, what with the themes of isolation, etc, but it always bothered me that the movie is called Garden State, and New Jersey is the setting and is referred to many many times, and Large flew in from Los Angeles and is headed back to LA, yet here is this song with New York featured so prominently in the lyrics and title. Cutting it was a smart move that I wholeheartedly agree with, but your music choices were smart moves throughout.
As for everything else, I don't know what else to say. It was an excellent alternate viewing experience of a movie I always loved anyway. It was like having a favorite song for years and then a special boxed set comes out containing a different take of that song, with a slightly different rhythm, vocal and phrasing. It doesn't replace the original--nor does it need to. But it sure is fantastic to have. Kind of like all the different versions of songs on the Beatles Anthology sets or getting to hear earlier or later takes of Elvis singing Suspicious Minds in the studio. Sometimes the sincerity comes through more on those unreleased versions and they stand, in my opinion, shoulder to shoulder with the classic released version and I would not want to have to chose only one or the other. I really enjoyed this :-)

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DVD
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(Updated: September 05, 2012)
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9.0
April 26, 2011

It has been a while since I watched this, so it is hard for me to compare specifically to the original. I am an indy music nut however, so I do remember the original music well. I wasn’t sure how I would feel with you changing the music, but fortunately l8wrtr you have very good taste in music! At first it threw me off a little, only because I knew all the songs you picked and knew that most of them didn’t come out until a good while after the movie did. The first of these song changups pulled me out of the story for a sec as I reflected on that fact, but it actually really worked well as an alternative soundtrack to the movie. The songs certainly lended a great deal of emotional poignancy to the movie.

I have mixed feels about the opening airplane scene. It didn’t feel quite right to me or connect enough to the rest of the movie or to the end to justify keeping it.

I don’t recall any major technical problems.

So, good job! And thanks for an updated version of a movie that was fun to revisit! 9/10 overall.
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(Updated: September 05, 2012)
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10.0
March 23, 2011

When I saw this movie for the first time I was only 18 years old and I absolutely fell in love. However, the older I got, the more I started to realize the flaws. As Brumors pointed out, it seemed to focus too much on being quirky and indie, and what should have been the main focus of the movie (Large’s arc) was buried somewhere inside. The movie was supposed to be about him “waking up” from the fog of prescription drugs and coming to terms with his background, but in the end, I never really got that from it. So I hadn’t watched it in years, until coming across this edit.

By changing only a few small things L8WRTR has made a huge difference in this movie. Instead of focusing on this quirky, melancholy small town and its inhabitants, this is definitely Large’s movie – and it’s better for it. As others have pointed out, including L8 himself, the deleted scenes that are inserted are clearly of lower quality, and at first this took me out of the movie – but only for a second before I was drawn back by the quality of the scenes themselves. Why in the world were these left on the cutting room floor!? The scene with his father was so much better than the theatrical version, and gave their disdain for each other actually make sense.

And then there’s the extended bathtub scene between Large and Sam. Watching the original I always thought, “one tear, that’s it?” This version was a million times better, and in the end the lower quality didn’t matter in the least. One thing I was dissapointed with was changing the music cue during Sam tap dancing – this was my absolute favorite musical cue in the original film. I always thought it lightened the mood after such a deep conversation, which is what Sam was trying to do by dancing anyway. But that’s just personal opinion, nothing against L8 for it.

In fact, I thought the changes in the music overall were great. It really helped the new mood of the movie, which is far more serious. And that’s saying a lot considering how great the original soundtrack was. But I love Aimee Mann (Magnolia, anyone?), so ‘Save Me’ and ‘One Is The Loneliest Number’ were welcome additions.

Overall, I recommend this for those who loved the original, those who hated it, and especially those who’ve never seen it. This is Large’s journey as it should’ve been. I’ve already shown it to some of my friends who all had the same opinion. I still love the original, but this is a welcome alternative for a more mature audience. Awesome job, L8WRTR, I can’t wait for more.

Almost forgot! Without spoiling too much, the ending – much, much better :D

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(Updated: September 05, 2012)
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9.0
March 19, 2011

I came to this from the perspective of a fan of the original theatrical cut who thought that it was a good little character piece that, frankly, could have been a great little character piece with only a little tweaking. Many times the point of the movie either became completely lost from time to time, or was put across in much too pointed in heavy handed ways. A more subtle film would have definitely played better to me, and if you could do that while turning the volume down on some of the oft too broadly comedic or needlessly quirky bits it would be even better. Thankfully, that’s exactly what this edit it does.

First of all let me start by saying I quite liked the presentation of the thing. The sound and picture quality was stellar with the exception of some re-inserted deleted scenes that frankly do look off – though given how important they were to this edit and that there was no way I can think of to make them look better than they did I found that completely acceptable. As for the editing itself, it’s next to invisible. I can’t pick out a moment where I really noticed the editing, which in this type of project I think is the best compliment to pay.

Now, all that said, getting into the movie itself. This is by FAR in my opinion the movie that Garden State always aspired to be but fell short of. The point is put across in a much more subtle, and dramatically satisfying way, with much more emotion and pathos than that original theatrical edition. Not only does this edit it remove much of the distracting and muddled bits, but also it’s gotten rid of some of the over written moments that seemed only designed to make sure even the most dense audience member got the point. But perhaps most satisfying is that it allowed the film to feel less broad, eschewing much of the inappropriate humor while at the same time keeping the quirkiness and skewed view that helped make Garden State special in the first place.

Presented here, all and all, feels like a much more professionally edited, satisfying, subtle, and overall intelligent film than the original version and for my money represents the much preferable edit.
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(Updated: September 05, 2012)
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10.0
February 25, 2011

Large’s Ark is an outstanding example of the fanediting art. The editor has refashioned the original to a version that’s more serious and somber, that rings truer emotionally, and that still has a lot of the charm and eccentricity of the original.

Although the original isn’t all that eccentric, as it follows closely in the footsteps of other indie favorites like Rushmore, Napoleon Dynamite, and other sagas about quirky, alienated and maybe neurotic, Gen Xers/Gen Yers. It’s a real puzzle why the scenes of Large in the bathroom were deleted from the original because those scenes seem like they always were the emotional heart of the movie. Maybe the original production team felt they were too heavy and serious, verging on Ordinary People territory. Well, thank goodness L8wrtr has reincorporated those crucial scenes. Yes, the video quality is a little worse, but I can live with it.

Technically the edits are mostly flawless. I thought I noticed the editor’s touch in a handful of transitions, but 98% are high quality in the way they’re integrated with the style of the original. The audio is even more impressive. Kudos to L8wrtr for impeccable music choices that merge totally with the story and recast the feel of the movie as less pop, more alt.

I also prefer L8wrtr’s ending, which better solidifies the idea that Large is setting his own destiny instead of always acceding to other people’s wishes.

Had the original production team decided to go with this interpretation of the material, they hardly could have done a better job. It’s funny, involving and a little surreal with a life-affirming message. 10/10.
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