I don't quite understand these sniper reviews that say things like 'this film is the worse film i've ever see. So there'. Care to bother to write why?
Anyway, I didn't have the original to compare this 'Director's Cut' with but much like the notorious and often derided Heaven's Gate, this film actually has a bit to recommend it. It's essentially a British film (then, as now, with American finance behind it) about the American War of Independence, with impressive scale and period attention to detail, way before the days of now ubiquitous digital CGI. Visually, it lives up to Hugh Hudson's reputation (like Ridley Scott, Hudson was one of the top commercials directors in the world in the 70s & 80s, and not for nothing) with some impressive battlefield sequences as well as set & costume design. The handheld pseudo documentary camerawork, which doesn't entirely work for me, was still way ahead of the game for a feature film of that era.
The director's cut features a new voice over by Al Pacino which describes his character Tom Dobbs innermost thoughts about his experiences. Although i had difficulty hearing it at times, it probably does add something substantive to the film, reminiscent to the introspective style Terence Malick utilises voiceover in his films. Pacino by the way, as ever, is solid in this film, taking a real risk on it too. There's talk on the special features of how Richard Gere was originally considered and how even Sly Stallone voiced an interested. All I can say is that if a film starring Al Pacino can fail as badly as Revolution originally did, just think how much worse things really could have been with 'Rambo' Dobbs.
Where the film disappoints is in it's script. Surely it would have been better for Dobbs' son to get press-ganged into the British army earlier in the film and make more of their desperate journey to reunite, against the backdrop of the War? Instead we've got sidetracked scenes of Pacino being fox hunted by toffee nosed Brits and the guy from the Crystal Maze. Nastassja Kinski's character is also under developed...there's simply not enough presence to make the love interest thing work with Pacino, nor do we really get a feel for her and her motivations. Out of all the people she would have met throughout her war travails, why should she even remember them later on in the film? I also actually preferred the original ending (it's on the DVD special features) where we see that Kinski does in fact survive to the end of the war - instead it's never resolved in the new Directors Cut. Yes, it may be a more Hollywood ending, but it's also just better storytelling IMO. It's just the naff way that it was presented in the original cut that makes it feel tacked on. Donald Sutherland's character also feels terribly underwritten, making you wonder if an actor of his calibre had substantial scenes cut out. Such a waste of talent, and money. Sutherland's character is also supposed to sound like a Scotsman, but as a Scotsman myself I found him unintelligible most of the time. However one wants to promote the authenticity of the way people would have spoken in the 1770s, a film is in trouble if the audience can't understand what an actor is saying.
All in all it feels an untidy, uneven film, with Pacino doing his utmost best to make sense of it all. Definitely worth a watch but It's a frustrating film given that as i've said there is much to recommend it...epic, ambitious, daring, risky, visually stunning. However it could have been a much stronger film had more time and attention been paid to a stronger script. I don't think Hugh Hudson deserved to be de facto blacklisted from feature work as long as he did after this and it's sad that such a talent never seemed to quite recover or gain the heights of Parker/Scott et al. There's a saying...you can make a bad movie out of a good script, but you can't make a good movie out of a bad script. 'Revolution' falls into the latter category.