Are Films Becoming Game Patches?
January 22, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by NC title sequence)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. We see patches all the time in video games.
(A montage of shots of the game No Man's Sky for the PS4 is shown)
NC (vo): A big title is coming out with a lot of hype, and once it's released, it seems unfinished. Thankfully, though, a patch is sometimes released some time later to fix it all up. Sometimes, patches are released even if the game seems fine.
(Cut to shots of the VR game Gorn)
NC (vo): There's several VR games that I think are perfect the way they are, but suddenly, an update is added and the graphics are different or other major elements are altered.
NC: While this could be the subject of its own video, I want to talk about how a very similar practice is starting to be done with movies.
(Cut to shots of people in a movie theater, watching a movie)
NC (vo): Now, anyone who knows cinema knows that movies are changed all the time, whether it's before a release, after a release, or sometimes, even years later.
(Now cut to footage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
NC (vo): The past few years, though, as computer technology has not only advanced, but we've relied more on it, changes in film have become more unique.
NC: (holds up two fingers) There's two examples that have happened recently that seem different than other changes we've had in the past.
(Footage of the trailer for the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie is shown, comparing the original and newer designs of Sonic)
NC (vo): One is with the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. When the teaser came out, the backlash against it, particularly what Sonic looked like, was so strong, they pushed back the movie's release date to completely change his look, attempting to make him look more faithful to the game's design.
NC: The other example is with Cats.
(Footage of the recent movie version of Cats is shown)
NC (vo): With so many people complaining about how freakishly eww-y it looked, a new version of the film was released, claiming to have made the CGI effects look better. At first, people thought this meant making them appear more like (A shot of the cast of the stage play version of Cats is superimposed) the original design, similar to Sonic. But it turns out it just meant taking some scenes that looked awkward and fake and touching them up a bit so they looked...
NC: (uncomfortably) ...awkward and... (makes "finger quotes") "real".
(A clip of the original Sonic trailer is shown)
NC (vo): The fact that the makers think these changes will save these train wrecks is entertaining enough...
(Cut to another clip of the original Cats trailer)
NC (vo): ...but I'm more fascinated that we're in a time that these changes can be done at all.
(Cut to a shot of a video game)
NC (vo): The reason we're not shocked these kind of changes and patches can be done in games is because it's all coding and programming. Yes, it takes time, but it's all done in one realm: the computer.
NC: Films like Cats and Sonic are a mix of live-action and computer.
(More footage of Sonic is shown)
NC (vo): And this is the first time we're seeing that main characters can be completely transformed even before the movie comes out.
NC: So the question is, are more of these movie patches on the way? And if so, is it a good thing?
NC (vo): While many have voiced appreciation for trying to improve a film based on existing properties, others...have concerns.
NC: Cats, for example, has become one of the most celebrated bad films in recent years.
(Footage of Cats is shown)
NC (vo): There's so much talk of how the movie bombed hard at the box office, but if the reactions from people who have seen it are any indication of the future, it's gonna be just fine. I can see tons of people viewing this, trying to experience the madness the same way they watched The Room or Troll 2. Hell, maybe a kind of Rocky Horror Picture Show screening might be in the near future. I can totally see people watching it, laughing and shouting things at the screen.
NC: But it looks like we may not be able to see it in its full, disjointed glory anymore.
(More footage from Cats is shown)
NC (vo): I saw this movie before the changes were made, and I can think of several moments where the effects were astoundingly uncomfortable; more than just the design, it was the texture and movement. In several scenes, it added to the fun of how mind-fucking it was.
NC: But now, it looks like that version might be gone forever.
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong, the film will continue to delightfully horrify based on its other maddening merits, but cleaning up the effects of Cats is like cleaning up the effects of...
(Cut to an image of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is shown)
NC (vo): ...Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny; the mistakes are part of why we love it.
NC: The Sonic the Hedgehog movie got criticism from its own cast about the changes made.
NC (vo): Jim Carrey said...
(A quote from Jim Carrey is shown, along with an image of him, with NC reading the quote...)
NC (vo): "I don't know quite how I feel about the audience being in on the creation of it while it's happening. Who knows what that's going to turn into? I believe in auteurs and I believe in creatives. As far as something like a Sonic character, that's something people have a sense of ownership from their childhood. So, of course, they're going to get involved if they can. We'll see if it's a good thing or a bad thing."
(More footage from the original version of the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer is shown)
NC (vo): Well, judging from the trailers, I don't see this as the best example of great auteurs or creatives.
NC: I can't act like I don't know what he's talking about.
(Footage of the updated version of the Sonic trailer is shown)
NC (vo): The Sonic redesign looks great, more expressive and livelier than the original. But the change happened before we could see how the original would then be utilized in the film.
NC: And let me emphasize... (An image of the original design for Sonic is shown in the corner) It's extremely unlikely that it would have worked.
NC (vo): But to demand a change even before we can know for sure does seem a little odd.
(An image of 1989 Batman is shown)
NC (vo): Imagine if when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman, the filmmakers listened to the angry masses and somehow, changed the actor after the film was done shooting.
NC: I mean, yeah, I know that's not possible now, but we're getting to a point where maybe it will be.
(Another still from Batman is shown)
NC (vo): If we listened to fans before the movie was released, we would have lost one of the best, if not the best, Batmans we've gotten in cinematic history.
NC: Again, that's very unlikely that's what would have happened here, but kind of similar to Cats, I don't think that's gonna save much. If anything, I feel like it's gonna take away.
(More footage from the Sonic trailer is shown)
NC (vo): The film still looks like (poster of...) Hop crossed with the (poster of...) Woody Woodpecker movie, so I personally welcome all the bad you can squeeze into this to make it entertainingly awful, creepy human teeth and all.
NC: But like I said, I haven't seen it yet, so I can't know for sure. Maybe it will make things better.
(Images of George Lucas are shown)
NC (vo): Someone who rarely makes his films better the more he alters them, though, is George Lucas. He might be one of the best examples of why not to change scenes after a movie is released.
NC (vo): In the '90s, years after the Star Wars films were owned by many on video, he released his trilogy with all new effects on the big screen. Nowadays, this may seem like nothing, but the idea of going back and using modern technology to update a film in this way was kind of mind-blowing.
NC: Nobody had seen something like that before, at least not on that big of a scale.
NC (vo): Despite some of the changes being mind-boggling, even to this day, people were okay with this idea.
NC: There was only one problem, though: these were going to be the only versions of Star Wars you could see from here on out.
NC (vo): Lucas refused to release the original, unaltered cuts on DVD or Blu-Ray, acting as if they never existed. Had the original and updated versions been available, I don't think people would have had as many problems with the changes made. But, they're not; he's erasing film history for so many people that now aren't allowed to view what inspired so many filmmakers. These are changes, or patches, that seem to be backfiring.
NC: Spielberg apparently had the same idea with E.T.
(Side by side comparisons of scenes in that movie are shown)
NC (vo): Replacing the timeless puppet effects with what I can only describe as the Illumination logo's CGI dick. He also edited out the FBI agents' guns because he thought that was too scary for kids.
NC: (making an A-OK gesture) Got it.
(Images of E.T's body and the FBI agents are shown)
NC (vo): The cuddly corpse of your lifeless hero, fine, but bad guys with guns?
NC: (gasps; sarcastically) No child should ever witness that!
NC (vo): Thankfully, Spielberg did the smart thing and released both versions so that people could choose. But other films aren't so lucky.
NC (vo): Lion King...no, the one people like... has several differences on DVD and Blu-Ray, despite them advertising it's the theatrical cut.
NC: Now these changes are minor, but still hot.
NC (vo): If we went back to Snow White or Pinocchio and started changing things years later, wouldn't it be kind of like messing with history? Updating clarity is one thing, that's art restoration...
(Cut back to the side-by-side comparisons of The Lion King)
NC (vo): ...but this is art alteration. The version I saw on the big screen, I technically can't see again, as it was shown without these updated patches, at least not on DVD or Blu-Ray, at least not that I can find. I suppose I can still watch it on VHS, but it's practically an extinct way of watching movies now.
NC: Now, with that said, some patches, especially from Disney, do make more sense than others. You'll see what I'm talking about.
(With that, we go to a commercial break. Upon return, the footage of The Lion King resumes)
NC (vo): I usually stand by there should be few to no changes when digitally updating movies, as they should be seen in the original context of when they came out. We're always changing, always evolving, so it makes sense to acknowledge that times change, and it can be for the better.
NC: (looking hesitant) However, some changes made over the years are pretty easy to understand.
(Another side-by-side comparison is shown, this one for another Disney movie: Fantasia. In this case, the comparisons show, on the left side, footage of the original 1940 movie in the Beethoven Pastorale segment, in which the infamous black centaurette, Sunflower, is tending to other centaurattes. On the right side is the edited version of the movie, which either shows closeups of said centaurettes or just edits out Sunflower completely)
NC (vo): I never knew until years later that in Fantasia, there were black racial stereotypes serving the white centaurs. Holy shit, is that uncomfortable!
(Cut to a clip of a introduction by Leonard Maltin on a Walt Disney Treasures DVD, where he talks about old Mickey Mouse cartoons that have racist depictions in them)
NC (vo): Usually, Disney and Warner Bros. properties that have racist depictions from the past...
(Cut to a clip of a similar introduction, this one by Whoopi Goldberg on a Looney Tunes DVD, where she likewise talks about racist depictions in these cartoons)
NC (vo): ...had intros from film historians and celebrities explaining that they were a product of the time...
(Cut to footage of a Mickey Mouse cartoon called Mickey's Mellerdrammer, in which Mickey and the gang are preparing to put on a stage play of Uncle Tom's Cabin, with Mickey donning blackface for his role as Uncle Tom and throwing his arms out to his mirror and saying, "Mammy!", a la Al Jolson)
NC (vo): ...that they were wrong then and wrong now, but acting like it didn't is more damaging than rewriting it out of history.
(Cut back to Leonard Maltin's intro on the Disney cartoons DVD)
Maltin: Concerned parents might use this opportunity to talk about the way things were many years ago and just how far we've come since then.
(Now cut to Whoopi Goldberg's intro on the Looney Tunes DVD)
Goldberg: ...to accurately reflect a part of our history that cannot and should not be ignored.
(Now we have more comparisons with the Beethoven Pastorale segment in Fantasia, once again with and without Sunflower)
NC (vo): With that said, this cut of Fantasia is not in any DVD or Blu-Ray.
(Cut to the opening credits for Aladdin)
NC (vo): Nor is the original version of Aladdin, where "Arabian Nights" includes the lyric: "They cut off your ear if they don't like your face."
Peddler: (singing) ...Where they cut off your ear / If they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home.
NC: While I feel like these versions should exist somewhere for historical preservation... (grimaces) it is hard not to agree with these changes.
NC (vo): I mean, the Aladdin one isn't too bad, because they're trying to build up it's a tough place in an over-the-top way.
(Cut to a clip of a Woody Woodpecker cartoon, where Woody, who plays a sheriff in a Western town, gets his beak caught in the barrel of a tough-looking outlaw bird's gun, who in turn is being threatened by Woody himself as he holds a gigantic gun of his own. He fires his gun at the outlaw bird, blasting him in the rear, so that his tail is bare and featherless, save for a few isolated feathers on the tip of his tail)
NC (vo): Like making the Old West look even more aggressive than it was. I get that; it's a comedic cartoon.
(Now cut back once again to the comparisons of the Beethoven Pastorale scene of Fantasia, with and without Sunflower the black centaurette)
NC (vo): But the Fantasia one? I don't know, how do you explain that to a kid? It feels especially dirty, and something about leaving that one out feels right.
NC: So, as we're seeing, the issue is definitely subjective.
(Now a clip of Zoolander is shown)
NC (vo): Sometimes, the biggest patches in a movie isn't about what you take out, but rather what you leave in.
(The poster for the Spider-Man movie is shown, with the World Trade Center towers clearly visible in the reflection of Spidey's eyes)
NC (vo): After 9/11, a lot of movies coming has shots of the World Trade Center, planes, airport security, and suddenly, all of it needed a facelift.
(Another clip of Zoolander is shown)
NC (vo): Zoolander has become a comedy staple for many over time...
(Now cut to a montage of news articles that mention that any and all shots of the Twin Towers in movies would from now on be erased)
NC (vo): ...but back then, it was the center of much controversy...
(Cut to a shot of Zoolander, showing the M-topped skyscraper in New York City, with the Twin Towers digitally removed)
NC (vo): ...because it digitally erased the World Trade Center.
NC: Now, nobody talks about it, but back then, it was like a huge insult.
NC (vo): In hindsight, I can't blame that hard. I mean, they just wanted people to laugh at their movie; take away their pain.
(The M-topped skyscraper is shown again)
NC (vo):' And seeing the two towers in the background might make people uncomfortable and take away from that goal.
(Another newspaper article on the Twin Towers' removal from Zoolander is shown)
NC (vo): But the news that spread about erasing them did the exact opposite, causing people to demand any scenes with the two towers be left alone because it reminded everyone of what a proud American structure it was and that it should never be forgotten.
(Cut to footage of the trailer for the 2002 Spider-Man movie, which shows the two towers in some scenes, but not in others)
NC (vo): Spider-Man definitely took note by changing up (Image of the poster for this movie is superimposed briefly) the poster with the World Trade Center, but leaving it in other scenes of the movie. I still think the big reveal of Spider-Man in the film was the famous spider web between the two towers in the trailer, and this was cut out. I mean, it's in the film for a second, but Spider-Man never got a big reveal of him in the costume, and this would have been perfect. Again, I can't confirm this is what they did; it's only a theory, but it seems pretty likely.
NC: One of the biggest changes made to a film around that time wasn't talked about at all.
(Footage of the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch is shown: the climax involving a spaceship chase to rescue Lilo from imprisonment by Captain Gantu, whose spaceship is pursued by another spaceship, piloted by Dr. Jumba, which sways left and right to avoid being shot at by Gantu)
NC (vo): In Lilo and Stitch, remember the big spaceship chase in the climax of the film? Looks a little familiar, doesn't it?
(The scene cuts to an earlier planned scene, with Jumba's spaceship being replaced by an airliner, also piloted by Jumba, as well as Stitch, with Lilo's sister Nani in the cab with them. A comparison between the two scenes is shown)
NC (vo): Yep, originally, the ending focused on a plane flying through the city.
(The comparison shows, on the left, the original plane flying through the city while dodging left and right to avoid hitting buildings, whereas the final scene, shown on the right, shows the spaceship flying over some mountains)
NC (vo): But after 9/11 happened, they reanimated the whole thing so that people wouldn't feel, well, uncomfortable. People still loved this movie, even with the scene changed, and not drawing attention to it, like the media did with Zoolander, seemed to help it out in both the long run and short run.
NC: So, as we're quickly seeing, there's no concrete rules as to what should be altered and what shouldn't.
(Cut to the poster for the director's cut of Blade Runner)
NC (vo): With directors' cuts and extended versions released all the time, it almost seems like we crave different versions of our beloved classics.
(Cut to a shot of an interview with Peter Jackson as he directs Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
NC (vo): Peter Jackson, when filming pickup shots for the extended cut of Return of the King, brought up how almost pointless it was, seeing how they just won the Oscar for Best Picture. If it already won Best Film of the Year, why are they adding to it?
NC: Well, one of the reasons is because people have a choice of which one they can see.
(Cut to footage of Inside Out, showing baby Riley Anderson as a baby refusing to eat her broccoli)
NC (vo): When movies are released in different countries, some cultural differences have to be updated. Broccoli in Japan, for example, is not seen as gross to kids...
(Cut to a side-by-shot shot of this scene, which compares the U.S. version (which shows the broccoli) with the same scene as shown in Japan, which replaces the broccoli with green peppers)
NC (vo): ...but green peppers are. Regardless, you can still purchase the American or Japanese version of Inside Out whenever you like.
(Footage of Star Wars, Cats, Sonic the Hedgehog and Justice League is now shown)
NC (vo): But different versions of Star Wars, Cats, Sonic, and...Justice League? (A question mark is superimposed over the alleged scene in question) ...you can't.
NC: With that said, some filmmakers definitely know the importance of getting the right version out.
(Footage of Brazil is shown)
NC (vo): My favorite film of all time, Brazil, had a very public battle about getting the original cut out, instead of the studio releasing a shorter and, I think by accounts of every human being that has ever seen it, shittier version of the film, known as the "Love Conquers All" edition. This version, almost as a joke, was released on the Criterion edition (A shot of that release of the movie is superimposed) with a commentary on why it sucks so hard. The original cut was released after its director hosted his own screenings and eventually won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Picture. It is interesting to see inferior cut when comparing it to the original, but just imagining that this may have been the only version we got is pretty horrifying.
(Cut to a montage of shots of 2001: A Space Odyssey)
NC (vo): Even the masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey had nineteen minutes cut out after [Stanley] Kubrick did a limited release of the film. He said it was for pacing reasons, and (chuckles awkwardly) if you know the slow pacing of the film, that's kind of funny. But it's strange to think even after a groundbreaking film has been released, a director can go back in and change stuff himself. It's not always the big bad studio trying to keep the good artist down.
NC: You could argue that stage shows have been doing this for years.
(Cut to a montage of shots of stage plays, starting with SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical)
NC (vo): Broadway often has previews acknowledging the show might not be where they want it to be yet.
(Now cut to shots of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark)
NC (vo): Hell, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark went through 183 previews! And according to most reports, they still didn't get it right!
NC: So as you can see, there's a lot of different angles to come at this from.
(Cut to another clip of Lilo and Stitch)
NC (vo): The idea of a film being altered from what it was originally intended sounds shitty...
(Cut to another clip of Spider-Man)
NC (vo): ...and like it's selling out. But it's done all the time.
(Clips of the Star Wars movies are shown)
NC (vo): Both before and after it's released.
(Cut to another clip of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
NC (vo): Sometimes, it makes it great...
(Cut to two comparison shots of E.T.)
NC (vo): ...sometimes, it damages it...
(Cut to footage of the updated version of Cats)
NC (vo): ...sometimes, what damages it is also what makes it great.
(Now cut to more footage of the updated version of Sonic the Hedgehog)
NC (vo): We're turning more and more to existing properties with a following, and anything with a following has an opinion on what they like and don't like about it.
NC: So my guess is, we're gonna see a lot more of these film patches.
(More footage of Cats is shown)
NC (vo): CGI is advancing so fast and it's utilized so much in film that it's easy to see more instances like this on the horizon.
NC: (shrugs) Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
(Footage of Star Wars and Brazil is shown)
NC (vo): Well, like the examples I've listed over so many years of film, it's just a case-by-case basis; sometimes, they work, and sometimes, they don't.
NC: What I think is important for filmmakers is keeping in mind what's best for the feel of the film.
(More footage of Cats is shown)
NC (vo): Fixing a few effects in Cats clearly isn't going to change anyone's mind up...
(More footage of the updated Sonic the Hedgehog movie is shown)
NC (vo): ...but changing the look of Sonic has already changed several people's minds on it, for a movie they haven't already seen yet.
(More footage from the first trailer of Sonic the Hedgehog is shown)
NC (vo): And while I will miss the A-bomb of horrendousness we could've had...
(Back to the updated footage)
NC (vo): ...it's hard not to appreciate that they are trying to please the fans. Whatever people will think of a film, most people can agree they at least got one thing right. As much as I talk shit about...
(An image of George Lucas is shown)
NC (vo): ...George Lucas, he did quote a very famous saying...
(More footage of Star Wars is shown)
NC (vo): ...that being, "Films are never completed, they're abandoned".
NC: There is a lot of truth to that.
(A poster for Orson Welles' final film, The Other Side of the Wind, is shown)
NC (vo): There's been tons of unmade movies because either too many things went wrong or somebody never got the version they were proud enough to release.
(A behind-the-scenes shot of Orson Welles, John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich laughing is shown)
NC (vo): Orson Welles was guilty of this several times, even with his last movie.
(More footage of the original Lion King is shown)
NC (vo): Film is a collaborative effort, with tons of people working on each one, so it's no shock that there's...
(More footage of Star Wars is shown)
NC (vo): ...never been objectively a perfect film.
(More footage of Brazil is shown)
NC (vo): Even the greatest masterpieces have something that was a little off...
(More side-by-side comparison shots of E.T. are shown)
NC (vo): ...or it doesn't make sense, and what may be seen as amazing to you might be seen as shit to someone else.
(Even more footage of Cats is shown)
NC (vo): There always has been, and always will be, pros and cons of advancing technology with art; for everything you gain, you're always gonna lose a little something.
(And even more footage of the first and second trailers of Sonic the Hedgehog is shown)
NC (vo): I guess a film is destined to have more changes in the future based on audience reaction. The challenge is going to be striking that balance between what the storyteller wants to say and what the audience is willing to listen to.
(Cuts back to Cats )
NC (vo): Entertainment can't exist without somebody entertaining and somebody being entertained.
(Cuts back to Sonic the Hedgehog )
NC (vo): The hope is both having respect and trust of the other to keep the imagination always hungry, yet constantly fed.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. (gets up from his chair and leaves)
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown before the credits roll)