Are Movies Getting Too Long?
Movies used to run just over an hour. In the past few years, we’ve been seeing an upwards of two to three hour long movies, especially for those based on other source materials difficult to cram into one hour-long expose. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it. Even for some of our most beloved movies we admit, “It was a little too long.” Do you agree? Here’s a few reason why long movies aren’t the best ideas:
1. Bathroom Breaks: If you’re going to see a big action movie or comic book movie or, well, any mindless entertainment at the theater, you’re getting a huge soda. You’re getting popcorn. You’re sneaking in Red Vines. No matter how hard you try, you’re consuming it all by the end of the trailers. Then at the 45 minute mark, you have to pee. If the movie is 3 hours, you’re either stuck running out to pee or you’re biting your knuckles and playing through the pain.
2. Too Many Characters: When most movies stumble into the 3 hours mark, we are stuck with a plethora of characters. That’s okay if many of them are throw away characters in a living universe, like Star Wars, but it starts to get boring and confusing when you’re expecting all of them to have vitally important roles. I don’t need 6 antagonists, 4 characters inserted for fan service, or an extra romantic subplot that makes no sense. Maybe just cut out a few characters and focus on the title guys.
3. Ruins Your Day: Any way you slice it, a movie takes up a big chunk of your day. If that chunk is now 3 or 4 hours with trailers and drive time, there goes your entire weekend. You enter the movie when the sun is coming up and leave to find total darkness, having just spent 5 hours watching a Transformers movie. Did that story really deserve an intermission and 30 extra minutes of comedy characters running around during a battle? No? Then maybe make the movie 90 minutes and let me enjoy the rest of my Saturday.
4. Overly Complicating the Simple: There’s nothing wrong with a simple plot. Some of the greatest works of art and literature can be described in a sentence. Hamlet? Usurper discovered by depressed man, violence results. If I’m watching a sci-fi or fantasy movie designed to entertain me – not an in depth analysis of the human experience in Czarist Russia – I don’t need characters pretending to be other characters (generic plot point 1), a character getting captured as part of his plan (generic plot point 2), or 3 false endings (generic plot point 3). The best action movie of last year was Mad Max. The plot was some people escape, drive, turn around, and go back. I don’t need 4 hours of twists, turns, and extraneous characters to get me there. Have fun and keep it short, darn it.
5. The Rewatch Factor: Think about the movies you’ve watched 100 times. Raiders of the Lost Ark? 2 hours. The Empire Strikes Back? 2 hours. Batman ’89? 2 hours. Ghostbusters? Just under 2 hours. All of your favorite movies not called The Godfather are about 2 hours or less. It’s just easier to watch and watch and watch short, fun movies. No one wants to sit down and view a dreary, 3 hour epic for the 12th time. It just isn’t happening. Maybe that extended cut is great the first time at the theater, but admit it to yourself… You’re never, ever, ever watching all 7 hours of fantasy battles again in your life. If you do, it’s in the background when you’re doing something that actually holds your attention.
What are some of your favorite movies that run just a little too long? What are movies that are ruined because of runtime? Let us know in the comments below.