Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More does not equal better

I think it was Ken Levine, over at his blog, who said - if a film is over three hours long, it should not be eligible for 'best editing' in the Oscars.

I would agree.

Long films are often a chore. Not always. But often.

For example, I was bought those extended editions of the Lord Of The Rings films each Christmas three years running.

I still haven't watched them. It's not that I don't think I'll enjoy them. It's just that amount of time is a serious commitment and I can always think of several other shorter things I'd rather do. And I have to wonder, will they really be better movies than those already long movies I saw in the cinema? If anything, that Ent sequence needed to be a lot shorter.

More often than not, I find that cut scenes are cut with good reason. For example, the extended cut of Aliens added some good scenes on their own, but broke the flow of the movie in several places. Most importantly, they took the movie from being Ripley's story to something far less coherent. The DVD of Donnie Darko had the deleted scenes with commentary from the director in which he explained very well why those scenes didn't belong in his movie. The "Director's Cut" recut those scenes into the movie and, as it happens, it turns out he was right the first time.

I enjoyed Watchmen earlier this year.

And I'm looking forward to it on Blu-Ray. But it seems the Blu-Ray version is 3 hours and 10 minute. Now, at the theatrical two and a half hours, that film was on the edge. It kept me interested but was definitely on the edge. And, as a fan of the source material, there isn't one thing cut from the graphic novel that I missed in the movie. Do I need another half hour or forty minutes added to it?

No. I do not.

More does not equal better.


Edcander said...

Your right, but then again, every now and again they create a blade runner.

I hadn't seen the original, but aliens directors cut was quite good on its own.
Then again, I'm probably not half the critic you are.

I wonder, is it better to be a high minded critic who can really tell when something's well done, but then has to wade through tonnes of crap, or a pleb who enjoys everything on a purely superficial level.

Andy Latham said...

I just can't keep my concentration on a 3 hour film. I have just never seen one that long that has not had me wondering how long is left. I think 2 hours is a comfortable time.

I have heard people say that Lord of the Rings was given a long running time, not to fit everything in, but to give the audience a feel for the gruellingly long adventure. Whether that's right or wrong, I nevertheless accomplished the feat of falling asleep in all three of the movies. That's a shame because I really wanted to like them. Needless to say, I have never attempted to watch extended editions.

Wouldn't it make sense for film companies to make films shorter and shorter in order to fit more showings in a day and generate more money? Not that I want to pay nigh on £10 for a 10 minute film!

I would argue that certain scenes that got cut out of Terminator 2 that subsequently got put back in on DVD releases didn't slow the film down. I'm particularly thinking of the bit in the steel works where the T1000 starts screwing up after being frozen, with his hands and feet accidentally merging into whatever he touches. The bit with him searching John Connor's bedroom was unnecessary though, even if it was interesting.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I love the LOTR extended editions. That being said, it's been over 2 years since I've seen them. Whenever I'm thinking about something to put on the DVD player, and consider the LOTRs, I always tell myself "Do I really have 4 hours to burn right now?". I can stand the long hours though, provided I have ample of beer to drink.

Extended versions are a valid market. It's intended for the ├╝berfans; what I think they should do is to sell you the Bluray with BOTH versions (the extended one, and the theatrical release). I mean, how hard could it be? It's obviously not a technical issue, but a GREED issue, because the studios want you to keep buying different versions of the same film over and over till the end of time or your budget—whichever comes first.

In 2020, George Lucas will surely release a HoloD interactive version of Star Wars, where you'll be able to decide if Han Solo shoots Greedo first, or if they make up and buy each other a Tatooinian beer instead.

Andy Latham said...

On the subject of Terminator that I mentioned earlier, god help us if there's an extended version of Terminator 4! I just saw it - that thing is one long action scene. Good film, but some pauses now and again would have been nice!

One scene in particular made me nearly wet my pants with excitement. Arnie has a strong influence on me it seems, even in CG form!