Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

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Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Dacey » September 26th, 2015, 1:24 am

So, I literally only just watched this for the first time after remembering seeing TV commercials for it during Garfield & Friends as a kid. For those who don't know the plot, it's...on second thought, no time for that. Long story short, this is the one where Ben Kingsley voices a James Bond frog.

I'm not sure what I went through during this movie. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I was thinking it was a total mess, but once the actual plot started, it slowly began to win me over in a weird way. Would it be a stretch to say this is the Flash Gordon of animated movies? One where you can't quite decide if what you're watching is stupid or actually somehow awesome? Or maybe I'm making the connection because Brian Blessed is in both, and he makes anything better by default. But there were moments of genuine "cool" in this film, even if said moments were also genuinely weird (those who have seen the movie will probably know what I'm talking about). And, like Flash Gordon, it had a planned sequel (called "Freddie Goes to Washington," apparently) which never got made.

Not surprisingly, the movie was apparently a troubled production from my understanding, a British film that bombed in the states in a huge way when it opened in 1992. This lead to Miramax not giving the movie (which got a PG back when it actually meant something to have that rating) a home video release, and Universal picking it up three years later, cutting twenty minutes of material, dubbing over some other bits, and adding James Earl Jones as the narrator. Perhaps as a result of all of this, as far as I know, the theatrical version has never been available to own in the states, and neither version is on DVD...at least here.

I am wondering if the theatrical version is available on DVD somewhere like the UK? The only way to get it in the states is by finding it on the internet, and there don't seem to be any "good" quality versions. But this is, oddly enough, despite me finding it almost unwatchable when I started it, something I'd like to have in my library. Does anyone know if there's any chance of this ever getting a release in the states?
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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Ben » September 26th, 2015, 4:41 am

Well, it's not on disc in the UK either, it seems by a quick Amazon check.

I thought I had a freebie promo disc but a quick check shows it's actually an off-air DVD-R of what I presume to be the original UK cut...

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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Randall » September 26th, 2015, 10:47 am

I have never given this film much thought, but am now curious as anything!

Italy has a DVD, in Region 2, PAL format. However, there are no English options.

There are a few online streaming options.

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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Ben » September 26th, 2015, 6:53 pm

Don't get too excited, Rand!

Despite Dacey's enthusiasm, Freddie is pretty dire and, as he says, a bit of a WTF kind of movie! I certainly have never revisited since seeing it and committing it to that off-air disc.

I wouldn't mind seeing Miramax's shortened version since, if anything, I thougnt the film ran long anyway, but I would be very, very, very, very, VERY surprised if it ever got a release in the US...not only is the Miramax's library up in the air again at the moment but it's such an old and obscure film by now, and I'd bet than even Miramax has forgotten they own it!

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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Randall » September 26th, 2015, 7:45 pm

I think I can settle for a few fuzzy YouTube clips. :)

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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Dacey » October 16th, 2015, 5:06 pm

The Universal home video cut of Freddie as F.R.O.7 isn't just an edited version. It's an abomination.

Essentially, it was Universal picking up a British PG-rated film (again, back when it mattered) and cutting out anything that parents might find questionable. Even worse, they also cut/re-edited the film to make it more "American." The G-rated cut runs roughly 20 minutes shorter than the original version, but none of the cuts are done for pacing.

For instance, the opening credits of the British version zoom around Paris, France. Uh, oh! Paris, France isn't in America! Better get rid of those and add some cheap fairy tale kingdom shots instead. The original version had Adrian Della Touche as the voice of the narrator. Uh, oh! Kids have no idea who that is! Let's dub him over with James Earl Jones instead. Because, after all, when I see this frog, I fully expect for Mufasa's voice to come out of his mouth!

Image

It gets even more messed up than that, though, because this cut actually takes the "fairy tale" prologue of the film and makes it even longer...and then goes on to add several "flashbacks" to it later on in the film. Let's edit things so that it looks like Freddie's dead father the French king (eh, as I said, the movie's kinda weird) is giving him "advice" throughout the film, complete with him giving Freddie closing lines about how it's not what's on the "outside," but what's on the "inside" that counts (the film needs a moral, after all!). Also, James Earl Jones adds some nonsense that was never in the original cut. "And so, Freddie became a time traveler, going through time to fight evil and do good in the world." This is never elaborated on, but hey, some newspaper headlines are also added in case the kids get confused (Including my favorite, "Freddie Becomes Secret Agent," which is something that always happens whenever someone becomes a secret agent, right?).

It may say like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here, but the way the cut is edited, essentially we get an hour-long movie in which the prologue literally takes up half the movie. The "main plot" is what's severely edited down. Fight scenes are chopped up (extremely sloppily) because the studio wanted to remove any scenes in which guns were shot at Freddie. A villain's song is played over a completely different part of the movie because they thought the original version was too scary. A scene in which test dummies are destroyed by bullets is cut because, you know, can't show kids what guns do. Even the edits that might make sense are done badly. For instance, at one point, crows that bring to mind Dumbo in all the worst ways appear for no apparent reason, but rather than simply remove the scene, they just dub them over with stereotypical "British" voices, meaning that you see characters with "punk" hairstyles saying words like "By jove" and "blimey!" instead.

In the end, they took the things that I loved about the film--Grace Jones singing a song as an evil snake, fist fights that are set to music by Asia, a giant ship that's shaped like a cobra that's actually really cool-looking for 1992--and butchered them/edited them out completely. Both versions are on YouTube, but sadly it's the Universal cut that's in much better shape, rather than the theatrical Miramax one.

And so concludes a post that I and only I will care about. ;) In any case, however you felt about the film, the Universal cut is not the way to go.
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Re: Freddie as F.R.O.7 on DVD?

Post by Randall » October 17th, 2015, 2:26 am

I care, man. I'd enjoy seeing the original cut sometime.

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