Top critical review
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Unfortunately, the Director's Cut left me feeling empty.
on August 19, 2000
Well, I've read the other reviews and I find myself most decidedly in the minority. The movie is good, but it's not great. On the other hand, neither is it terrible. My first experience with The Big Blue was the American version, cut shorter and with Bill Conti's score in place of Eric Serra's. The Director's Cut (D.C.) is both longer and darker.
Okay, I'll say it. I like the American version better. Period. It was, perhaps, my all-time favorite movie. But things have since gone downhill. Eric Serra's music is good, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel that it has the emotional impact of Conti's. Yes, we're talking about something very subjective here. If the D.C. is your first experience with this film, then you'll be lucky enough to enjoy it without having to compare and contrast. However, for me, something was missing in this new release. I found many of the extra scenes superfluous to both the story and the character arcs. For example, there's an added humorous scene midway through the film that exists, supposedly, to show that Enzo likes to take chances and flex his masculinity. I agree; the scene depicts just that. But there are plenty of other scenes that do the same thing; this one is redundant. (On a side note, the endings of each version are virtually identical -- don't let someone tell you otherwise. Ultimately, this movie is about a man's struggle to choose between Humanity and Nature, and that message remains unchanged from one version to the next.)
Regarding the scoring, there are points in the D.C. where a given scene just didn't work for me with Serra's music (sometimes Besson chose no music at all, and the silence that falls over the action is absolutely stifling). I don't believe that Serra's score did the movie justice. Conti was able to capture the flavor of the film much more easily, yet without being disrespectful to Besson's message. At best, Serra hit the mark only five times out of ten.
To be fair, I can't honestly say that my take on the D.C. is based solely on its own merits, as I saw the American version first. I'd suggest that you watch both and decide for yourself. Of course, it might prove difficult to find the older one these days (outside of rental stores, that is).
In short, I was disappointed that they didn't come out with a DVD that had both the American and Director's versions. I realize that'd be more expensive, but it would've been a nice touch (and I'd have paid extra for it). I'm glad I saw the D.C., but I'd much rather own on DVD the American version and I regret that I now think less of the movie than I had previously. I would have given it two and a half stars, but it wasn't bad enough to warrant a solid two, considering how much I loved the American version; despite its flaws, this is still a pretty cool movie.