Review Detail

9.0 4 10
FanFix July 04, 2012 1889
(Updated: July 18, 2019)
Overall rating
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This was perceived as another bloated misfire for Kevin Costner after Waterworld, but I always had a soft spot for both. I was very eager to see if BionicBob's edit could trim this movie to reveal the gems at it's core, and WOW does it succeed.

Bob's cuts come fast and aggressive, losing basically 1/3 of the movie! It's like cutting off gangrenous legs to save the body. His emergency operation reveals this film can ride cross-country just fine. The 2 hour result is not a perfect film, but it's highly-enjoyable, with the focus drawn to a few relevant characters, and the themes limited to be not only clear and compelling, but incredibly relevant today.

What emerges is a story of a group of people who view a unified government as a threat and destroy it. This group is filled with older, bearded, white men who view their positions of power as justified "survival of the fittest", and an inherent right to 'take what belongs to them'. This includes property, resources, sexual access to women. Their leader is a tyrant who throws tantrums at the slightest disagreement or opposition to him. He's a misogynist who blames women for his own sexual inadequacies, but he recognizes the power of communication. His goal in the film is to prevent people from being able to communicate effectively with each other, keeping them fragmented and afraid and without hope in a better future. In that state, they're powerless to rise up against him.

The Postman (we never find out his real name) rises up at first as a symbolic opposition to this. He just wants people to be able to communicate with their friends and family. But in the process of restoring communication, he lets people believe things can heal, the country can unify, and gives them hope in a better future. [SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM AT ALL] He inspires others, mostly young people, including many women and people of color, to believe that they too can make a difference and that there is a role for them in a new, modern society. But not only does he oppose the bad guy symbolically, he eventually needs to physically stand up and unite people to fight back. I was never in doubt that he had started as just a desperate liar (cobwebs on his hat and his initial answers to questions implied it clearly), but that makes it even more inspiring that a person who's made bad choices can turn things around and fight on the right side.

This film is great in that it is overwhelmingly one of hope and inspiration, but it doesn't shy away from the reality and negative aspects of such a fight. When The Postman at one point doesn't want to fight because he doesn't want people to get hurt, the great character Ford Lincoln Mercury (ha!) tells him "People aren't going to get hurt because of you. They'll get hurt because of him, and because it's a shitty world, and people get hurt. But it doesn't change what we have to do." This realistic commitment to push through and fight for what's right against oppressors in some way doubles down on the hopeful message of the film, because it serves to balance the film's occasional forays into outright corniness. [END SPOILERS]

There are still a few cheesy moments, but they are vastly trimmed away from what I remember of the original cut. The more elaborate sequences are trimmed into effective montages, and the story moves along at a fairly quick pace that never feels too rushed or slow in any one section. Some of these edits feature some pretty fast cross-fades, but that might be a weakness of what scenes there were to work with, and is not a huge problem. Only one montage was an issue for me, and it was an audio sequence (towards the end, during The Postman's cable ride) where many clips are played in succession without any context. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to get out of that, and what it meant The Postman was thinking/deciding/realizing. The beginning storycard sequence may seem to skip over a whole movie for some people, but I was okay with starting that actually piqued my interest for what was to come. The only other issue I'd mention is the video... the copy I have is definitely not crisp, particularly for the file size. Not quite up to DVD quality, but still very watchable.

All in all, BionicBob's edit is a near miracle. It took a film I was almost ashamed to like and made it one that I found to be prescient and moving, one I will happily recommend others to watch. It's one of the best fan-fixes I've seen, by far.

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