July 04, 2012
April 25, 2011 @ 8:00 pm
I remember quite vividly the outpour of negativity which was lauded against Kevin Costner’s epic adaptation of David Brin’s novel, The Postman. It seemed that after the huge success of movies like Dances With Wolves, JFK, The Bodyguard, A Perfect World and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, the media at large were just waiting for Costner to fall from grace. The much touted production problems of Waterworld in 1995 started the ball rolling, and two years later nearly everyone seemed to rub their hands together with glee when The Postman cemented the opinion that he had lost the plot and produced an overblown project of vanity which many would consider to be the worst film of that decade.
By the time I managed to catch up with the film, about a couple of years later, I came to the conclusion that the criticism was deserved and yet at the same time wasn’t. The film certainly had problems. The first half of the 3 hour epic was somewhat ponderous, slowly setting up the story at large and in particular painting Costner’s character as far too much of a con man for my liking. Sure, Dances With Wolves was a slow burner of a movie, but it had more focus in its direction then Costner shows here. However, amongst this was a movie with a good natured message about a hero who stood as a symbol of hope and patriotism during a time when pessimism ruled – not only in the time when the movie was set, but during the time it was released too. Ultimately, this was far from the worst film of the decade, but yes it certainly could have been a whole lot better.
When BionicBob somewhat sheepishly released his fanedit, entitled The Postman: The Expedited Edition, I was very intrigued to see what he had come up with; particularly when I read his cutlist. The first thing which grabbed me straight away was the intention to make Costner’s Postman character far more of a mysterious figure; the second was excising almost the first hour of the movie. Both of which made me very eager to see the edit.
Bob begins the edit with a summary of what’s gone before, relayed to us by onscreen captions and images, which tell of how social collapse around the world and nuclear war has more or less left society on its knees. It also briefly introduces the neo-fascist group known as The Holnists, led by a wonderfully stary eyed Will Patton, and then we pick up Costner as he seeks shelter from the rain for the night and then turns up at a settlement the next morning claiming to to be a Postman from the reformed Government of the United States of America. A perfect way to start for me, and already it creates far more mystery as to the authenticity of The Postman’s claims and the actions he takes thereafter.
Throughout the edit Bob neatly keeps things moving at a far brisker pace than the theatrical cut, but never at the expense of key scenes which help build character or enhance the story. It wasn’t long before I was already half way through the edit and thought how quickly it had breezed past. By concentrating on the central theme to do with the hope and purpose which The Postman brings to numerous communities, the film takes on a far more focused and powerful meaning. Strengthening this further is the decision to leave it far more open to the viewer’s discretion in relation to Costner’s character – in what motivates him, to whether he is a real Postman or just some kind of con man. Less is more indeed.
Technically, on the whole this is a top notch effort. The picture quality is more or less every bit as good as the official DVD release, and the audio levels are all fine. Only towards the end did I notice a problem where the lip synching seemed to be slightly out of time, which is a shame as otherwise this is a near flawless technical edit. So, video would be 10/10, audio 8/10.
So, as a fanedit this is up there with the best of them. It’s definitely the version of The Postman that I wanted to see when it was first released and truth be told, I now have no need to watch the theatrical version again. Bob deserves huge praise for turning a frustratingly inconsistent movie into one which I would now quite happily recommend to anyone. The Postman does indeed ride again
Overall, I would give this a final score of 9/10. Well done Bob.