Review Detail

9.5 5 10
FanMix June 28, 2014 3115
(Updated: July 18, 2023)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
This is a fantastic example of an edit that I can recommend to all groups: those who really disliked the original film, who really liked it, or who've never seen it. It's really a great feat of fan-editing and an undersung gem here.

The biggest changes for those who've seen the film will be the beginning and ending. For fans, this will provide a lot of food for thought in terms of adding more context to Freddie's (Phoenix) character and his reasons for being such a screw-up. It will also prompt an alternative, potentially more optimistic view of his journey and where he ends up. For detractors of the movie due to it feeling slow-paced or meandering, this moves much more quickly into the heart of the story, cutting down much of the beginning and getting Freddie into his interactions with Dodd (Hoffman).

The film's minor trims and reorganization allow for the best parts of the movie to really shine, imho. And that's the masterful performances of Phoenix and Hoffman. It may take awhile to become evident here, but if you know the real history of L. Ron Hubbard, his parallels in Dodd make it fairly clear that Freddie has stumbled into a kind of cult. The film then becomes a test of wills, with Dodd determined to break Freddie down and remold him into the perfect soldier for the cause, and Freddie desperately searching for validation and purpose, but resistant and resentful of any authority or restrictions, as much as he's attracted to it. The ending of the film now allows you to feel some hope that Freddie has, either despite or because of Dodd's "processing", made some kind of breakthrough and perhaps come out of this experience a more whole person. There is still room for ambiguity, but not to the extent that some people were frustrated by in the ending scenes of the theatrical cut. I doubt anyone will watch this and be left saying "what was even the point of any of that?! What changed?"

A final word on technical merits: despite the inclusion of more (non-70mm) deleted scenes, the difference in visual quality was not especially noticeable for me from other 35mm portions of the film. The sometimes complex audio elements were re-edited tightly enough to excuse any momentary questions I had about music or dialogue matching. The film is nearly wall-to-wall score, and that's a really complex feat to edit. I also have to give DominicCobb a lot of credit for the montage approach taken at several points here. It fits well with the themes of the film and the character and I think sets you up to appreciate the dissociation and breakdown that a cult is trying to produce.

The only quibble I have is the removal of a scene towards the end, right before Freddie's "motorcycle race"... There is a moment where a former stalwart supporter of Dodd is disenchanted with his new book and sort of calls BS on him. It is now absent, and I think that's an error as to me that was the inciting incident that causes Freddie to just keep riding. He's heard naysaying of Dodd before, but it's this turning of a longtime supporter that I think is the proverbial straw. It's the one removal that I think perhaps goes too far here, whereas all the other cuts serve what the faneditor wants for the film: going clear. ;)

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