Quality is excellent considering the file size.
Visual cuts are seamless. Newly added dream segments are nicely put together. One very slight nitpick:
- At 7:00 the footstep foley seemed slightly out of sync with the visual
In terms of transitioning from scene to scene and trims to dialogue, cuts are seamless. The rescoring was largely good but a bit of a mixed bag for me for a combination of technical and narrative reasons (more on that later).
- 37:50 - not actually sure if this is futon or not, as I couldn't see it on the cutlist, but music starts to fade in here and it clashes with the strings playing in the background of the scene.
- 41:30 - this montage has incomplete sound design which unfortunately betrays the music swap. Eg. There's a sound when Matilda puts the bag on the counter, but not when she takes something out the bag and puts it down. There's an isolated clink as she puts the glass on the drainer at 41:32 but otherwise there doesn't seem to be any foley here. The tap is running water and there's no sound from that or as it runs over the bowl. This would work fine without any sound design as a montage IMO, but having limited sound design betrays the foley.
- At 41:54 the dialogue is obscured by the music.
- 55:08 - a bit jarring that the music volume increases as the hotel clerk speaks. Feels unnatural and not an ideal place to shift the volume.
- The door chain sfx that have been chosen for the sweet dreams segment doesn't sound right to me. It may be because we hear the chain, but we don't hear it rattle against the door, or it may be the sound itself is just to bright and weightless. The foley just seems a bit empty here.
I should say that there is a lot of rescore work on the edit and a lot of it works very well. Keeping the film in surround is also commendable (I watched it mixed down on a 3.1 setup, so can't fully judge, but it seemed to work well). Sometimes the issue is Leon, who is quite softly spoken and has a thick accent, and so it's easy for the music to get in the way of his lines. Without subtitles, I wasn't able to comprehend what he was saying at points.
It's been a while since I've seen the original and an even longer while since I've seen Nikita. I presumed the black and white sections were created for the edit, but they fit well on a technical level. Narratively, I didn't really get what their significance was or what they added in the context of Leon's narrative. I presumed it was probably footage from Nikita, but I can't remember the context for those clips.
- 15:00 - this an observation, not a criticism: The context of this scene seems to demand Beethoven, so I assumed futon88 had swapped it for different music. But nope, that's the original score! Bizarre. I think there was a missed opportunity here, as it would have made more sense for Beethoven to score the scene if that's what Oldman is "dancing" to.
- Given the concept of the edit, I was surprised to see Mathilda still confess she's in love with Leon. I don't have an issue with it, but it's interesting that it's kept in. Generally, the awkwardness of that plot element is toned down significantly, as was the aim of the edit.
Subjectively, I didn't mind the music itself, but I thought there were sometimes odd choices for the scenes and they could be distracting. During montages? Not so much. But Sweet Dreams during the "training" segment and the Kate Bush scene didn't seem to fit for me. Part of it is it just being marginally (marginally) louder than needed, and part of it is being vocal-driven music during scenes of dialogue. I like both songs, but in the context of those scenes I just felt like they hindered the film conveying information. The instrumental pieces used, on the other hand, worked very well.
A well-done edit and an enjoyable alt experience. 20 minutes cut and it doesn't seem to create any problems for the narrative; keeping things mostly from Matilda's perspective works well. Dream segments seemed superfluous and some music choices were a hindrance. The original film is fine from my memory and, apart from the awkwardness of Mathilda's feelings for Leon, I didn't think it really needed an edit. I think if Futon's edit had solely focused on toning that element down but without the other changes, it may have worked better for me.
On a subjective level (and unrelated to the main edit), not really a fan of having trailers at the start of fanedits as part of the same file. There's only one here, but I hope it doesn't become a trend. I have to deal with skipping past trailers on my home media discs and I don't want that to be a thing with fanedits (and it also contributes to the file size). I think it's different with a concept edit like a Grindhouse, where throwing trailers in an interval is part of the experience.
Anywho, well done, futon and thanks for sharing!
Thank you for taking the time to watch this and leave such a detailed review. This type of feedback is priceless to me.
I'll respond to some of your notes below.
37.50 - Yes, that goof was me. I added some Italian strings to the scene to reinforce a pattern in those settings (I invented a story that the dad in the background loves Scarlatti). I agree that the transition isn't seamless. I could likely roll the music some to find a better transition point, or possibly just make it much quieter.
7:00 - I've watched this a few times, and they seem in sync to me, but the problem may be that I've aligned to his heels instead of the shoe falling...It's hard to know what to do when the walking is in slow motion. Technically, the sound doesn't even make sense (I did pitch shift it lower to convey his weight, but not to make it sound slowed down).
41:30 (Foley stuff)
I think this is a case of not making the SFX loud enough. I added foley for her pulling the bread out of the bag and slapping it down, but it's *very* quiet (I recorded myself playing with some cellophane). Same for when she's washing the dishes. There's foley for tap running, the bowl filling with water, and also for when it overflows (in addition to the clink you noticed). I even did subtle wiping sounds for when she's wiping the gun. It's all very clear in my headphones, but it seems to not have translated to your 3.1 setup. I think my takeaway is that I just need to make those sounds *much louder*, even if it's technically unnatural. I've been learning more about foley recently, and it really is remarkable just how loud the sounds are (sometimes in a really unnatural way), but we've been sort of trained to hear it that way.
41:54 - You're absolutely right. I'm still learning about music ducking...I should have brought it down here for the dialogue.
55:08 - Subjectively, the timing of this one felt good to me, but it's definitely hard to know when to make that kind of shift. In general, is it best to wait until the final word is spoken before raising the music? I experimented with it that way, but then the cut to the next scene (city) felt flat. Like it felt like the music should be full volume on the cut...Of course I'm adding music to a transition that didn't originally have it, so maybe I should have focused more on the scene timing itself. (On a related note, I'm happy you didn't notice the removal of the dress in this scene! It was tricking getting the timing right)
(sweet dreams foley)
Yeah, this was an interesting challenge. The scene is from the International Cut, and to me it feels very unfinished. The music sounds like a temp track (and not part of Serra's score), and the sound effects were strangely empty. If you have your bluray handy, it starts at 1:21. There are sounds for chains, doors, and bolt cutters, but nothing for any of the doorbells, and also no reaction sounds from the people. In an early workprint I went for parity, but it just didn't sound right, so I went further and added sounds for all of the effects. I do think the original chain/door/blolt cutter sounds are better, though. I struggled to find SFX with enough depth.
"Narratively, I didn't really get what their significance was or what they added in the context of Leon's narrative."
I was aiming for ambiguity, and trying paint a loose picture of a past life in Europe that held no joy for Leon, only pain.
The first clip paints a picture of violence, but also perhaps romance. I kept Leon obscured so that we're left wondering who he is. I was also trying to make it seem like this was the Dad's dream, since he knew they were coming for him the next day. We only learn in retrospect that it was Leon's dream.
(Regarding that first clip, I also loved the juxtaposition of the man having his head pulled backwards and the mom performing the same action as she gargles mouthwash!)
In the second clip we clearly see Leon, but it's not yet clear this is Leon's dream (as we fade to black on Mathilda). This dream conveys maybe the start of a date, but then it takes a turn when we see the woman crying, then his quick shot with the pistol betrays the romance and we cut to Leon (who proceeds to get a pistol of the same make and model!).
In the third clip we see that it wasn't romance at all. He was only there to be a "cleaner", and the fact that the body wasn't actually dead when he starts pouring the acid makes the experience especially dreadful.
What I was trying to convey is that his life was pure misery until he met Mathilda and started seeing things a different way again.
15:00 (Beethoven) - Trust me, I considered it! But this bit if Serra's score is just so gorgeous and singular! I love it far too much to replace it.
" I was surprised to see Mathilda still confess she's in love with Leon."
I agree I could have gone further with the removal, but I like that she recognizes she's developing feelings for him, and I like how candid she is about it. I wish adults were more forthcoming with their feelings. It also allowed me to keep the choking-on-milk gag. He chokes the first time when she says, "cute name", and the second time when she says, "...I think I'm falling in love with you".
"Kate Bush scene didn't seem to fit for me"
This was me getting absolutely obsessed with the lyrics! So much of it aligns:
"One hand clapping" when she slaps in the magazine.
"Where on your palm is my little line" as she's twisting the silencer into the pistol.
All of the "nanananas" align to when the dude is trying to speak but can't (gun in mouth or just nobody listening).
We hear "I'll be sitting in your mirror right" as he's dragged in front of a mirror in the hallway.
I could go on, but I think my lesson here is to not commit to a song just because the lyrics work. The tone needs to work too, but more importantly it can't interfere with the story being told.
"On a subjective level (and unrelated to the main edit), not really a fan of having trailers at the start of fanedits as part of the same file."
This is a fair point, and the trailer is time-sensitive, so to speak. My plan is to share a feature-only version down the road. I learned so much with the rest of "the crew" as I worked on my Jackie Brown edit (not out yet), and I was honoured when they asked me to place the Tarantino Tales teaser at the front of Mathilda.
Thank you again for so much detail. I can learn a lot from this.
There has clearly been a lot of thought an effort put into the soundtrack for this edit, I particularly like the music used for the new introduction of Mathilda at the start of the film and some of the fast-paced action scenes also benefit from a new sound track, notably a scene that overlays the Eurythmics. The music choices are excellent and as noted, work well on a lot of scenes, however there’s probably half a dozen too many music additions for my liking. Some of the scenes from the original movie worked for me because of the lack of music. I enjoy being able to absorb the moment and use my imagination.
Most of Mathilda’s childish infatuation / crush on Leon has been removed and I do wonder what the edit would have been like if some more of this had been left intact. It falls into the category of Mathilda’s story, however I know that Futon’s creative direction was to exclude this.
There are 2 parts of this edit that I want to specifically highlight:
1; There’s a scene where Mathilda is talking to the hotel manager and in the original film, during that exchange Mathilda tells the manager that Leon is her lover. In Futon and Art's edit, that part of the exchange has been (seamlessly) replaced with the sound of thunder and as a viewer you are left to wonder what Mathilda has told the hotel manager. This change is genius, it works REALLY well and is an improvement over the original film.
2; The revised ending where Mathilda goes back to school. Futon and Art's reimagining of this scene is far superior to the original film. No spoilers but it’s worth the wait and is a very touching end to the film.
Audio/Video Quality: 10, everything is HD and there’s not source issues.
Visual Editing: 10, this was spot on.
Audio Editing : 8, whilst technically competent, I felt there were too many additions.
Narrative: 9, I feel that some more of Mathilda story could have been added.
Enjoyment: 8, I wasn’t able to full get into the film as much as I hoped because some scenes were dominated with music.
Well done Futon and Art, another excellent edit and is continuing to do the fan editing community proud.
I appreciate this critical review, and I'll be more thoughtful in my use of music if I try this again. You're completely correct that some scenes benefit from *not* having music, and even if things line up perfectly that's not reason enough to do it.