‘Independence Day’ — Extended Editions Don’t Mean Better Editions

by Frank Martin

A lot of focus is often put on extended editions. The general consensus amongst fans is that longer is better. This is usually because longer means more content and more context for the stories and characters to be understood. But there are a lot of factors that go into a movie besides the story and characterization. A lot of times, material is cut from the theatrical edition for corporate reasons — to either meet a certain runtime or target a certain rating. But there are storytelling decisions to take into account, too. Because of this, sometimes an extended edition might actually make an inferior film.

A great example of this is the classic 1990s big budget action film Independence Day. The theatrical release was extremely fast-paced and moved quickly between action scenes. But there was a lot left open in the plot and characterization to say nothing of the numerous questions that could be considered plot holes because they weren’t addressed. And because it has such a wide cast, many characters lacked a lot of time to develop. The expanded edition added all of the scenes that answered these questions. The plot holes were filled and the characters were fleshed out.

But in doing so, this dramatically changed the pacing of the movie. Rather than feeling quick and adrenaline-filled, the movie lagged at parts and slowed down. While the added scenes certainly rounded out the story and touched upon all the areas that needed addressing, the overall film suffered because of it. Creating a more fulfilling story hurt the cinematic experience, and so, cutting things in order to create the desired pacing was the correct storytelling choice. It just goes to show that sometimes more isn’t better and it’s hard to judge a film for what it’s not rather than what it is.

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