New Fan Edit – Godzilla: Resurrection

The time has come, folks! Time for me to embark on my own fan edit!

For my first project, I’ll be tackling a fanmix of The Return of Godzilla and its Americanized recut, Godzilla 1985. While the original Japanese version of the film is still the definitive one, I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for Raymond Burr’s scenes in 1985, and had always wondered what the final film would have been like had he been present in the Japanese cut.

This re-edit seeks to accomplish just that, while also streamlining the slower pacing of the original cut with suggestions from 1985 to combine the best of both worlds. The film will still be highly critical of both the United States and the Soviet Union, and will work to marginalize the more humorous aspects of the added Pentagon scenes. Finally, this cut will feature a brand new opening to the film, one that seeks to definitely tie the new Godzilla to the original beast in an eerie and unforgettable way.

To read more about the project, please visit my official page on it here, and keep your eyes peeled for a trailer on YouTube and Vimeo, coming soon. Until then, enjoy my custom poster!

Godzilla Resurrection - Coming Soon Poster

Godzilla: Resurrection will be available for viewing and download this fall.

New Video Series: Short Fan Edits

Hey there, true believers!

I have just launched a new video series on my YouTube and Vimeo channels, Short Fan Edits! Sometimes I feel the need to restructure just small portions of my favorite films; while the piece at large is fine just the way it is, perhaps one scene or two could be changed, either for the benefit of the narrative or just because it’s fun. This is the aim of Short Fan Edits. Each video will be a small sliver of a full fan edit, in many cases, probably the only change I would make to the film.

The first installment is my version of the deleted “bank robbery” scene of Escape from New York, placed before the opening credits to create a more natural flow. Check back on my channel, Temporal Productions, on YouTube and Vimeo for more!

Fan Edit Review: Derelict

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Original Films Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, Prometheus written by Jon Spaights and Damon Lindelof
Fan Edit by JobWillins
Category: FanMix

Not all fan edits exist to simply extend a film or fix some perceived problem with its story or pacing. Sometimes, an editor wants to make a work of art. An interesting mix of elements from different films can be combined to create an incredibly unique experience, and that is just what JobWillins has done here with Derelict, a combination of Prometheus and Alien.

Obviously, it isn’t as easy as sticking both films together at the ends and calling it a day. JobWillins’ vision calls for a marrying of both films’ stories, shifting back and forth between each film. This creates a unique dual narrative structure that increases the mystery element in each film and heightens the dread surrounding each cast of characters.

Roughly 30 or so minutes of Prometheus has been cut and replaced with an hour of Alien, staggered at varying intervals according to how well each scene fits. Beginning with David aboard the Prometheus, Derelict aims for maximum ambiguity: without the beginning of time opening or the Isle of Skye scene, the voyage and David’s role in it become a mystery, one that only heightens when the ship reaches its destination, only for the film to jump 30 years later to the Nostromo.

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The unknown elements of Alien gain even more of a sinister edge with this approach. The repeated beacon that calls the Nostromo is now implied to have something to do with the Prometheus mission. The derelict vessel becomes an even bigger enigma once the Juggernaut is revealed. David and Ash become even more intrinsically linked. All of these new revelations aren’t specifically stated by the edit, just implied by the new ordering.

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The best bits of this edit are in how the films transition into each other. The touchdown of the Prometheus cuts directly to the Nostromo’s rocky landing from inside the cockpit. Shaw, Holloway, and David’s escape from the storm cuts directly to Dallas and Lambert with Kane at the Nostromo airlock. An excellent montage of Weyland’s group entering the Engineer pyramid plays over Ash’s speech on the perfection of the Alien. And don’t get me started on how tense the new, combined climax is. With each cut of three decades, this edit’s legitimacy as FanEdit.org’s Fan Edit of the Month gets more and more solidified.

As mentioned before, large swaths of both films have been cut. Dropped is most of Prometheus‘ first act, sadly losing some of the better character moments between Shaw, Holloway, and Vickers (poor Vickers suffers the most from the cutting). Gone too is some of Alien‘s better bits of banter between Brett and Parker and some of the third act scares, but it’s all in the name of creating a pacing that fits in both stories effectively without turning the project into a 4-hour monstrosity. Two deleted scenes from Prometheus are also used.

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Video and sound are presented at the internet standard of 15 mbps, at 720p resolution with a 2-channel soundtrack. Presented in high contrast black-and-white to cover the obvious differences between the films’ visual styles, Derelict does a great job at emphasizing Ridley Scott’s use of light and shadow. Sound is dynamic enough for a stereo mix and quite adequate.

Derelict is an example of the talent that exists outside the Hollywood system. Taking two films separated by 32 years and combining them into a single, flowing story is not an easy feat, let alone making it a unique and entertaining venture when both films have been pored over to death. JobWillins makes the project look easy-peasy. Highly recommended.

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HOW TO GET IT:
Derelict has been taken from Vimeo’s public listings, however, it still exists as an unlisted video. If you have a Tumblr account, hop on and follow @JobWillins. On his blog there he has the video link posted along with the password required to watch. Enjoy!

It’s Alien Week!

Welcome, cinephiles, to Alien Week! A celebration of that mysterious and unholy monster from beyond the stars, Alien Week will be a special countdown to Alien: Covenant here at the Movie Maestro, featuring:

  • Reviews of the entire series, from Alien to Prometheus
  • Alien Fan Edit Reviews
  • A new Alien-themed Casting Call
  • The launch of my new column Weirdo Cinema, a wacky rant on a zany film inspired by Alien
  • The launch of another new column, Head Canon, where I share my ultimate, unified fan theory on the Alien universe

Don’t forget to visit my social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr for exclusive Alien goodies, and to see Alien: Covenant, in theaters this Friday!

Fan Edit Review: LV-426

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Original Film Directed by Ridley Scott, Written by Jon Spaights and Damon Lindelof
Fan Edit by The Man Behind the Mask
Category: FanFix

Prometheus, while most would agree is a beautiful and thought-provoking film, is also incredibly divisive. Some, like myself, praise the mystery it has injected into the Alien franchise, while others have derided it as containing unbelievable characters, too many open ends, and even of not being a true prequel. This last point of contention certainly has some truth to it, as Lindelof’s entry into the project sought to distance it from established Alien continuity, and take the story into the uncharted realm of the then-called “Space Jockey” race as Ridley Scott wanted.

Enter The Man Behind the Mask, a prolific fan editor behind such edits as War of the Stars (the Grindhouse version of Star Wars) and the heavily shortened Kong. TMBTM’s vision for Prometheus is rather straight-forward: change LV-223 to LV-426 to make the film a direct prequel to Alien. This isn’t as simple as just changing the name of the planetoid on a star map and calling it a day, however. LV-426 is in many ways a radical departure from Prometheus, losing over 30 minutes of the original runtime and using new VFX work to alter the ending.

Taking a cue from JobWillin’s Derelict fanmix, TMBTM presents the film in black and white. While it looks great, I don’t know exactly why he went with this aesthetic. While Derelict is presented in this way to better marry the distinct visual styles and color palettes of two different cinematographers separated by 33 years, LV-426 doesn’t have this disadvantage, so what’s the point. Oh well, like I said, it doesn’t look bad at all, so there’s that.

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Right off the bat, there’s a big difference: the entire opening. Gone are the ‘Beginning of Time’ and Isle of Skye sequences, replaced with voiceover from Shaw’s video message to Peter Weyland, pulled from one of Prometheus’ blu-ray features. This greatly speeds up the narrative, a theme that is carried through the entire film. In some spots, deleted scenes are used to fill the gaps, and with the exception of one, I enjoyed seeing all of them put back into the film. On the other hand, some other editorial changes I wasn’t too fond of, like the loss of David’s viewing of Lawrence of Arabia and all subsequent references to it, some of the humorous banter between Fifield and Millburn, and the wonderful ‘Navigational Map’ sequence, in which David activates the computer aboard the Engineer vessel. I also wan’t a fan of the repeated line, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” Once was enough, and it is in no way better than another line it replaces at one point: “Big things have small beginnings.”

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Video and sound quality are in tip-top shape, presented in over 15 mbps. The soundtrack is in 2 channels with what sounds like a Dolby Digital encode. It’s pretty solid, and has a bit of surround activity, or as much as can be expected in a stereo presentation. New VFX work is very subtle and almost unnoticed at the beginning of the film, but the biggest shots come at the very end. Beware, spoilers:

TMBTM removes the end ‘Deacon’ scene, instead digitally matting the creature into the Engineer as he is locked into the command chair, thereby revealing him as the dead Engineer from Alien, and the Deacon as his killer. This is a bold vision, but not one without its own set of discrepancies. If the Juggernaut from Prometheus is the Derelict from Alien, why is it fossilized after only several decades? What happened to the planetoid that so changed its environment (listen closely during Alien to discover that the Nostromo team’s walk to the Derelict occurred during the day–why is it so much darker than in Prometheus)? These problems certainly show how a direct sequel to Alien was certainly not the best direction to go.

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That being said, TMBTM’s edit is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. It’s stark and beautiful, its tight and suspensful, and it uses the much better Xeno-Fifield scene that so many fan editors are enamored with. It is not my prefered version of Prometheus, but I enjoyed my viewing, and that is way more than what I expected going in. Recommended as an alternate view of what could have been.

But how to get it? This time it’s very simple. Just watch on Vimeo!

Fan Edit Review: Dune: Third Stage Edition

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Original Film Written and Directed by David Lynch
Fan Edit by PhineasBG
Category: Extended Edition

Dune is a literary science fiction masterpiece whose definitive cinematic portrayal is still elusive. Much can be said about the aborted attempts made at bringing the first novel to the screen, and while the Sci-Fi Channel’s 2000 miniseries may have been a bit more accurate in the events depicted within its runtime, David Lynch’s 1984 theatrical effort is still a fascinating piece of work.

Unfortunately, even a definitive version of this film doesn’t truly exist. Lynch’s theatrical version was about 2 hours long, which meant that the meat of its narrative was severely trundcated by studio demands for a more commercial picture. When an extended cut was commissioned for television, the resultant mess of bad pacing, repeated special effects shots, and rough shape of the restored footage led to Lynch disowning that version, leaving it to be credited to the dreaded ‘Alan Smithee.’

Enter fan editor PhineasBG. While there are several other Dune fan edits out there, most attempt to bring the film more in line with the novel, while one attempts to recreate what the pre-release workprint might have been like. The Third Stage Edition is something else entirely. Working from a widely-available shooting script and utilizing footage from both cuts and the selection of deleted scenes from the Special Edition DVD released in 2006, Third Stage aims to restore what is presumed to be Lynch’s actual director’s cut.

Being the first fan edit I ever got my hands on, I was plenty excited to experience it, and I was not disappointed. The story now feels complete and epic, coming in just under 3 hours but suffering none of the repetition of the extended edition. Most of the deleted scenes restored are incredibly welcome, most especially the extended bits of the climax, for example the death of Thufir Hawat and Paul claiming Irulan as his wife. There are still problems inherent to Lynch’s version, which include the incredibly short amount of time Paul and Chani fall in love, and the pacing around Jessica’s taking of the Water of Life, but with no surviving examples of that footage, PhineasBG did his best, and his best is still wonderful.

Even only being available on DVD, the picture and sound quality are surprisingly good for its age. Black levels are inconsistent, but the picture retains its color and has pretty good resolution for the format, having been sourced from 720p. The extended edition footage, long missing the blue-within-blue eye FX, has been restored digitally. No more Fremen continuity errors. Deleted scenes are still a bit rough and scratchy compared to the rest of the picture, but again, this is the way it is when the source footage is unrestored. I can’t expect everyone to be Harmy.

The sound mix is deep and bassy, enough to shake the house when turned up. Some people aren’t a fan of this, but I love hearing the speakers rumble. Another big thing to note is that whenever possible, the theatrical cut audio is used on the sountrack, as the extended edition made some rather nonsense changes to the audio that frankly left me scratching my head. Bravo, PhineasBG.

Sadly, however, this is the part where I must break the bad news. The Third Stage Edition seems to be unavailable. There is one peer-to-peer sharing copy of a lower-quality video file, but there are no seeders, and that appears to be all she wrote. I will be holding onto my DVD copy tightly now. PhineasBG himself has stated that if the Extended Cut were to ever be released on Blu-ray, that he would recreate the edit in HD. Now, a year ago I would have told you not to hold your breath, but with the new Denis Villeneuve version underway and looking like a real possibility, perhaps in a year or two it might actually happen. We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, I hear that the Alternative Edition Redux by Spicediver is similar in execution, but without having seen it, I can’t speak to that.

Until then, if anybody reading this happens to find it again, please shoot me an email!