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Man, the extended Two Towers really saved that movie for me. I did not think much of the theatrical cut as it was. It's easier to watch now that I've seen the Extended but when I saw it in theaters I was terribly disappointed. Watching that made me want to watch the Extended Fellowship and I enjoyed the longer version but I think it's less essential.
I could maybe see a situation where one watches Fellowship as is, watches Extended Two Towers, and then it's dealer's choice on the last one, depending on how much hobbit action you want.
The extended cut of Two Towers was the only one if felt on the fence about being inferior. I enjoyed the development of Faramir and Theoden in particular but I ultimately think the development of those characters is superfluous and for side characters, they were developed enough in the theatrical cuts.

Return of the King EE had stuff I think is necessary but is poorly executed (Saruman’s final scene) and it introduces some awkward continuity issues ala Arwin’s necklace.

The theatrical cut of Fellowship is still my favorite of the entire franchise. It’s EE just makes its pacing, which perfectly escalates, a series of odd sputters and starts. I think it’s EE scenes was the least necessary as well. I thought the extra Boromir by the River scene and the Elven gifts were nice but unnecessary.



I think that the direction really escalates the whole movie, and I think that combined with the stronger writing in the first third, the initial 20 or so minutes are actually really effective. When she kept rebuffing his attempts to guilt her or trap her (by making her be "mean" by not giving him a ride) I was super intrigued.

As it goes on, the solid direction keeps it engaging, but despite the technical competence on display, there was just nothing that could have made the last hour surprising (Gee! Wonder what's going to happen to this nice hunter man who keeps talking about his adorable wife!).

If somehow it had managed to keep the surprising aspect of the first third, it could have been a pretty awesome flick. And some of the thematic elements (like the protagonist and antagonist using each others' families as leverage) were RIGHT THERE. A missed opportunity.
I do think that despite it not fully realizing it’s potential, I’ve seen enough serial killer/stalker flicks that are DTV that I think it deserves some respect for not falling into exploitation/rape revenge territory and reveling in unpleasantries. It was a classier (for lack of a better term) thriller than I was expecting given the format and genre norms.



The extended cut of Two Towers was the only one if felt on the fence about being inferior. I enjoyed the development of Faramir and Theoden in particular but I ultimately think the development of those characters is superfluous and for side characters, they were developed enough in the theatrical cuts.

Return of the King EE had stuff I think is necessary but is poorly executed (Saruman’s final scene) and it introduces some awkward continuity issues ala Arwin’s necklace.

The theatrical cut of Fellowship is still my favorite of the entire franchise. It’s EE just makes its pacing, which perfectly escalates, a series of odd sputters and starts. I think it’s EE scenes was the least necessary as well. I thought the extra Boromir by the River scene and the Elven gifts were nice but unnecessary.
Is the ROTK extended cut literally a billion hours long (as opposed to 500 million)?


I've only ever watched the theatrical versions.*Never felt that what the movies lacked was more runtime.*



Is the ROTK extended cut literally a billion hours long (as opposed to 500 million)?


I've only ever watched the theatrical versions.*Never felt that what the movies lacked was more runtime.*
Nothing that egregious. 750 million tops.



I do think that despite it not fully realizing it’s potential, I’ve seen enough serial killer/stalker flicks that are DTV that I think it deserves some respect for not falling into exploitation/rape revenge territory and reveling in unpleasantries. It was a classier (for lack of a better term) thriller than I was expecting given the format and genre norms.
Agreed. I realized that I didn't mention it in my review, but I appreciated that it didn't go to the well of sexual violence beyond establishing the threat that the antagonist poses. We're all here to see some people chase each other through the woods, so nudity or rape would have been exploitative feeling.

Maybe I should have given it an extra half popcorn.

I think that part of my reaction was just how much the first third made me feel like I was watching something special, and then it regressed into something much more "standard". Some of the little touches (like how specific it was seeing her listening to the audiobook) just fell by the wayside.



Allow me to be a tad controversial regarding LOTR but I got the 4K set and FINALLY watched the Extended Editions after all this time and…

The theatrical cuts are better.

The extended editions weren’t especially worse but what was added generally hampered the pacing and was superfluous (outside of a couple scenes). Also, the 4K made it apparent that these scenes weren’t mastered wit the same level of care and detail as the theatrical footage (see: Saruman’s final scene).

I’d still recommend them but not for initial viewing.
I don't know. I've only seen the Theatrical versions, well, at the theater and after that, every single time I've seen them it's been the Extended Editions. That makes my recollection of what was and what wasn't in one or the other a bit fuzzy, with the exception of 1) Saruman's final scene and 2) the further development of Faramir/Boromir/etc, both of which I found welcome. But anyway, I've had no issues or felt no slumps while watching the EE. Maybe one day, I'll put the Theatricals to see if I feel the difference.
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25th Hall of Fame (REWATCH)

Whiplash (2014) -


Though my appreciation of this film has somewhat decreased throughout the several times I've watched it, I still think it has a lot to offer. In the brutal world Chazelle crafts in this film, you need to pay a price for your dreams to come true (Chazelle's La La Land has a similar theme). Not only do we see the toll Andrew's pursuits of being a great drummer have on him, but also on his relationship with those around him given his alienation of some of his family or how he cuts off his contacts with someone who may have gotten in the way of his dream. Also, even though Fletcher's teaching strategies technically work, the film simultaneously acknowledges the downsides to them given what we learn about Sean Casey and how some of Fletcher's students leave his program. In spite of the darker bits though, the movie also manages to be a lot of fun. The jazz concerts are both well-shot and edited, with the standout being the technically outstanding ending which dropped my jaw when I first watched it back in 2014. Finally, J. K. Simmons does a terrific job in this film. He's electrifying when he teaches the band and equally compelling in his quieter scenes, with the standout being his conversation with Andrew about Charlie Parker.

In spite of these strengths though, something about the film's message turns me off. While I don't think the film champions Fletcher, it does imply that the only way to achieve greatness is through being abused. You can either roll with the abuse and become famous or give up your dreams. While I'm not denying some people will require that kind of pressure to improve, that isn't the only way someone can become famous. I wish the film would've presented more options to achieve greatness to Andrew, but have him choose to stay in Fletcher's program (staying in abusive relationships that you recognize as being abusive is normal, so this would've worked just fine). As it stood, I thought the film's message was conflicted. Yes, it does acknowledge the flaws to Fletcher's teaching methods, but it also acted like Andrew had no other options to pursue his dream and that didn't sit right with me. In spite of this, however, I still like the film quite a bit. Its strengths are compelling and engaging enough to carry the film.



In spite of these strengths though, something about the film's message turns me off. While I don't think the film champions Fletcher, it does imply that the only way to achieve greatness is through being abused. You can either roll with the abuse and become famous or give up your dreams. While I'm not denying some people will require that kind of pressure to improve, that isn't the only way someone can become famous. I wish the film would've presented more options to achieve greatness to Andrew, but have him choose to stay in Fletcher's program (staying in abusive relationships that you recognize as being abusive is normal, so this would've worked just fine). As it stood, I thought the film's message was conflicted. Yes, it does acknowledge the flaws to Fletcher's teaching methods, but it also acted like Andrew had no other options to pursue his dream and that didn't sit right with me. In spite of this, however, I still like the film quite a bit. Its strengths are compelling and engaging enough to carry the film.
Agreed. For me it is also problematic because of the age of the protagonist (and the other students). It is one thing for an adult to make an informed choice about potential health and mental wellness impacts of putting themselves through a grueling/abusive/dangerous process. But the students in the film are not of an age or in a situation where they are able to make that kind of informed decision/consent. They are put in an isolating, emotionally abusive environment without any scaffolds or understanding that it doesn't have to be that way.

And I further have some issues with how the message intersects with the death by suicide of a character. It feels like there is an implication that he just couldn't handle it, or that (worse) such deaths are the price we just have to pay for honing great artists in the fire.

I'm sure that some artists (or athletes, or whoever) thrive mainly in a demanding, borderline abusive system. But I'm sure that there are plenty of great artists (or athletes, or whoever) who (1) thrive in a nurturing environment and (2) would not thrive in an abusive system. I dislike the idea of lumping everything into this false binary: either you endure abuse and achieve greatness, or you live a happy life but never reach your potential. (I also happen to think that some (SOME!) people who thrived in or endured abusive situations sometimes romanticize them or retroactively justify them as having been necessary when that isn't the case, but that's a whole other conversation).



Agreed. For me it is also problematic because of the age of the protagonist (and the other students). It is one thing for an adult to make an informed choice about potential health and mental wellness impacts of putting themselves through a grueling/abusive/dangerous process. But the students in the film are not of an age or in a situation where they are able to make that kind of informed decision/consent. They are put in an isolating, emotionally abusive environment without any scaffolds or understanding that it doesn't have to be that way.

And I further have some issues with how the message intersects with the death by suicide of a character. It feels like there is an implication that he just couldn't handle it, or that (worse) such deaths are the price we just have to pay for honing great artists in the fire.
Yeah, agreed. I think the suicide complicates the message a lot. While I don't think the film is necessarily on Fletcher's side since his flaws are left out in the open, the suicide and all the abuse his students receive come off as the film going "Sorry, but there's no other way to achieve greatness, so all this abuse is necessary for creating a great musician".

When I first watched this film, I gave it a perfect rating (I was 15 at the time though), but my opinion on it has declined by a lot.



I don't know. I've only seen the Theatrical versions, well, at the theater and after that, every single time I've seen them it's been the Extended Editions. That makes my recollection of what was and what wasn't in one or the other a bit fuzzy, with the exception of 1) Saruman's final scene and 2) the further development of Faramir/Boromir/etc, both of which I found welcome. But anyway, I've had no issues or felt no slumps while watching the EE. Maybe one day, I'll put the Theatricals to see if I feel the difference.
There’s a sense of redundancy and repetition in the EEs that is not present in the theatrical cuts. For instance, the mythril armor that Bilbo gives Frodo is explained in the scene of the giving, then it’s re-explained again by Gandalf down in the mines. There’s just a lack of economy to the storytelling in the EEs that, given how sprawling the films already are, makes the entire thing feel like the runtime isn’t quite as earned.

Then again, this was a first watch of the EEs and I’ve seen the theatrical cuts multiple times.



25th Hall of Fame (REWATCH)

Whiplash (2014) -


Though my appreciation of this film has somewhat decreased throughout the several times I've watched it, I still think it has a lot to offer. In the brutal world Chazelle crafts in this film, you need to pay a price for your dreams to come true (Chazelle's La La Land has a similar theme). Not only do we see the toll Andrew's pursuits of being a great drummer have on him, but also on his relationship with those around him given his alienation of some of his family or how he cuts off his contacts with someone who may have gotten in the way of his dream. Also, even though Fletcher's teaching strategies technically work, the film simultaneously acknowledges the downsides to them given what we learn about Sean Casey and how some of Fletcher's students leave his program. In spite of the darker bits though, the movie also manages to be a lot of fun. The jazz concerts are both well-shot and edited, with the standout being the technically outstanding ending which dropped my jaw when I first watched it back in 2014. Finally, J. K. Simmons does a terrific job in this film. He's electrifying when he teaches the band and equally compelling in his quieter scenes, with the standout being his conversation with Andrew about Charlie Parker.

In spite of these strengths though, something about the film's message turns me off. While I don't think the film champions Fletcher, it does imply that the only way to achieve greatness is through being abused. You can either roll with the abuse and become famous or give up your dreams. While I'm not denying some people will require that kind of pressure to improve, that isn't the only way someone can become famous. I wish the film would've presented more options to achieve greatness to Andrew, but have him choose to stay in Fletcher's program (staying in abusive relationships that you recognize as being abusive is normal, so this would've worked just fine). As it stood, I thought the film's message was conflicted. Yes, it does acknowledge the flaws to Fletcher's teaching methods, but it also acted like Andrew had no other options to pursue his dream and that didn't sit right with me. In spite of this, however, I still like the film quite a bit. Its strengths are compelling and engaging enough to carry the film.
I don’t think that the film ever implies this is the only way for someone to achieve greatness. Fletcher SAYS this but the film punches holes in that numerous times (and goes to pretty extreme dramatic lengths to do so).

The film is about two toxic people (one far more extreme) feeding off of each other and ultimately benefitting, but at great personal and moral cost.*

A “positive” reading of this message is as off target as the copious “you go girl!” takes about Midsommar. Depiction isn’t endorsement.



I don’t think that the film ever implies this is the only way for someone to achieve greatness. Fletcher SAYS this but the film punches holes in that numerous times (and goes to pretty extreme dramatic lengths to do so).

The film is about two toxic people (one far more extreme) feeding off of each other and ultimately benefitting, but at great personal and moral cost.*

A “positive” reading of this message is as off target as the copious “you go girl!” takes about Midsommar. Depiction isn’t endorsement.
While it's true that Fletcher's teaching methods are shown to be highly problematic and ineffective, since the film provides no alternative methods on how one could become a great artist, this is why that's implied. Fletcher's teaching style is the only one shown to have this effect, both with
WARNING: spoilers below
Andrew
and Charlie Parker. Nobody in the film ever states that there are other methods to achieving greatness and we also never hear any examples of people becoming famous who weren't abused.

I don't think the film endorses Fletcher. Again, his flaws are left right out in the open. However, I do think the implication is that Fletcher's abuse and the suicide are necessary to creating a great artist since there's no alternatives for achieving this.



While it's true that Fletcher's teaching methods are shown to be highly problematic and ineffective, since the film provides no alternative methods on how one could become a great artist, this is why that's implied. Fletcher's teaching style is the only one shown to have this effect, both with
WARNING: spoilers below
Andrew
and Charlie Parker. Nobody in the film ever states that there are other methods to achieving greatness and we also never hear any examples of people becoming famous who weren't abused.

I don't think the film endorses Fletcher. Again, his flaws are left right out in the open. However, I do think the implication is that Fletcher's abuse and the suicide are necessary to creating a great artist since there's no alternatives for achieving this.
This is akin to saying that Wolf of Wall Street is pro-white collar crime because it doesn’t highlight proper business tactics. Not all films have to be didactic morality plays. Whiplash would be a weaker and far less provocative film of it offered a simple condemnation for Fletcher and Andrew’s choices.

Like WoWS, the film operates via depiction of a problematic ideology and assumes the viewer is bright enough to be able to tell why this is appealing (different forms of success but success nonetheless) and why it is wrong.*

WARNING: spoilers below
We see Andrew destroy relationships, nearly destroy himself and allow Fletcher to manipulate and abuse him to a point that drove over students to suicide.

We see Fletcher destroy his career, the lives of numerous students, and ultimately fail to destroy Andrew.

That Andrew achieves greatness is certainly not meant to be a mere triumph and “see! It all worked out!”

They’ve done these horrible things all so he can be a great drummer. It’s a Faustian deal that has taken away from Faust and Mephistopheles yet both come away ironically thinking it was worth it.


It’s a masterpiece.



This is akin to saying that Wolf of Wall Street is pro-white collar crime because it doesn’t highlight proper business tactics. Not all films have to be didactic morality plays. Whiplash would be a weaker and far less provocative film of it offered a simple condemnation for Fletcher and Andrew’s choices.

Like WoWS, the film operates via depiction of a problematic ideology and assumes the viewer is bright enough to be able to tell why this is appealing (different forms of success but success nonetheless) and why it is wrong.*

WARNING: spoilers below
We see Andrew destroy relationships, nearly destroy himself and allow Fletcher to manipulate and abuse him to a point that drove over students to suicide.

We see Fletcher destroy his career, the lives of numerous students, and ultimately fail to destroy Andrew.

That Andrew achieves greatness is certainly not meant to be a mere triumph and “see! It all worked out!”

They’ve done these horrible things all so he can be a great drummer. It’s a Faustian deal that has taken away from Faust and Mephistopheles yet both come away ironically thinking it was worth it.


It’s a masterpiece.
Okay, fair enough. I think we're on the same page now.



I felt the opposite about the Blade Runners, I thought the first one was a straight-up masterpiece and one of the most interesting films I've ever seen while I thought the second was a pointless, if beautiful slog with a very weak third act.
And I'd have to say that I feel the opposite of you about the BR movies; for me, while both of them are a bit slog-y as far as their tone/pacing goes, the original (while beautiful visually) was still more difficult to be fully engaged by, because I cared very little about Deckard or Rachael as main characters (because it felt like Ridley Scott didn't care that much about them himself), while 2049 had a more compelling protagonist, which helped make up for the film's flaws otherwise. At any rate, what was wrong with the third act? I found the ending to be surprisingly touching on an emotional level, speaking personally.

Allow me to be a tad controversial regarding LOTR but I got the 4K set and FINALLY watched the Extended Editions after all this time and…

The theatrical cuts are better.

The extended editions weren’t especially worse but what was added generally hampered the pacing and was superfluous (outside of a couple scenes). Also, the 4K made it apparent that these scenes weren’t mastered wit the same level of care and detail as the theatrical footage (see: Saruman’s final scene).

I’d still recommend them but not for initial viewing.
I agree; I'm sure the extended editions are naturally the preferred versions of a lot of Tolkien completionists (and even if you aren't, they still add some nice, extra world-building details to the trilogy), but I'm not a completionist, and I don't want to judge the movies by just measuring how accurate they are to their source material, and by that metric, the theatrical editions just work better as, well... movies. I mean, the original edits were already all slightly overlong as they were, so adding at least an extra half an hour to all of them definitely adds more bloat to their runtimes, if you ask me, so the theatrical cuts are all more than enough LOTR for me.



I always struggle with this because I saw Force 10 first and absolutely loved it.
Because I had no baggage from Guns I was able to enjoy the film as the fun romp that it is without comparing it to its far more serious predecessor. Shaw is as charming and full of guile as ever and Fox is actually a favorite of mine from that generation of British actors as well (Day Of The Jackal, A Bridge Too Far). Loved him in this role, and in the context of this film, I kinda liked him more than Niven (even though I am a huge Niven fan and, in the contest of that film, obviously think he's the better man).
This was also the first time I saw Franco Nero and I thought it was a good introduction to him. Hell, liked Carl Weathers in this as much as I did in Rocky, honestly.
Also, it's really a caper-film much more than a war-movie and it's treated that way, almost like Ocean's 11 in WWII. In fact, now that I think about it, it's a helluva lot like Ocean's 11 In WW2. Which is a movie I'd always be happy to watch on a Sunday afternoon.
I see this movie get bashed all the time for not being a good sequel to Guns but honestly it's a fun little movie taken on its own terms and actually probably rates pretty highly up there in my Movies I Love That Hardly Anyone Else Does Anymore (Or Ever Did).
I enjoy the score very much, I don't know if there's a soundtrack out there for Force 10 - but it's really rousing. Ron Goodwin is great when it comes to war films. I love the fact that I get to see the likes of Carl Weathers, Richard Kiel, Robert Shaw and Harrison Ford in action. When I was a kid I must have watched Force 10 three or four times - and enjoyed it. But deciding to do a double feature review and seeing (and researching) the films back to back really brought the differences into plain view. So I'm another guy harping on about the fact that Guns of Navarone is so superior to Force 10 - another to add to a long list of people you hear making that comparison.

It'd been a good 30+ years since I'd seen Force 10 From Navarone. It was like watching it completely anew. I might have had a different reaction to it if I hadn't of been comparing it to the first film.



This is akin to saying that Wolf of Wall Street is pro-white collar crime because it doesn’t highlight proper business tactics. Not all films have to be didactic morality plays. Whiplash would be a weaker and far less provocative film of it offered a simple condemnation for Fletcher and Andrew’s choices.

Like WoWS, the film operates via depiction of a problematic ideology and assumes the viewer is bright enough to be able to tell why this is appealing (different forms of success but success nonetheless) and why it is wrong.*

WARNING: spoilers below
We see Andrew destroy relationships, nearly destroy himself and allow Fletcher to manipulate and abuse him to a point that drove over students to suicide.
.
.
.
They’ve done these horrible things all so he can be a great drummer. It’s a Faustian deal that has taken away from Faust and Mephistopheles yet both come away ironically thinking it was worth it.


It’s a masterpiece.
The
WARNING: spoilers below
rapturous way that the final drum solo is filmed (as a soaring moment of triumph from an artistic point of view AND as a moment of the student surpassing his teacher) DOES suggest that it was worth it.

The film ends on this note of triumph and leaves us with the emotional high of Andrew achieving his artistic dreams and Fletcher getting a subtle moment of public comeuppance.


I agree that a movie does not have to present a binary. We didn't need some genius drummer who was also a gentle, patient instructor to show Andrew the "right way". And we also don't need the (false) conclusion that Fletcher's methods will always end in failure. Heck, the documentary Athlete A quite capably demonstrates that emotional manipulation, isolation, and abuse can win you a boatload of Olympic medals and cultivate top-of-the-world talent.

But I still think that the film does not satisfactorily resolve the tension between artistic success and personal cost of such extreme methods. I agree that it is a very well-realized portrayal of a toxic teacher-student relationship. Where I find fault is in how the moments and beats are sequenced so that the
WARNING: spoilers below
suicide of a character is left in the dust behind an exhilarating moment of personal and professional triumph. If Andrew did that solo and then there was a shot of him walking out into the back of the theater alone, I might feel differently. But I find that the chosen emphasis of the final moment feels like endorsement of the relationship---it suggests that the ends did justify the means.
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