Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Oh, Peter: What Have You Done To Us?

1977: George Lucas’ Star Wars is closing in on its release date. A problem arises. The film is running 125 minutes long. The studio execs, wanting to maximize the two-hour turnover in theaters, insist that the movie come in under the 120 mark.

“No problem,” says editor Marcia Lucas, and six minutes of
Biggs Darklighter fall mercilessly to the cutting room floor. The studio is satisfied, and the film is actually improved by the editing.

What ever happened to the idea of a good two-hour movie? What has happened to disciplined story telling?

I bring this up having been a bit disappointed (translation: bored) by Disney’s latest installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

It was fun to see CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swan mixing it up again. The opening sequence depicting the canceled wedding was brilliant in its use of imagery, music, and sound.

As a second film in a trilogy, it does its job of keeping the protagonists constantly on the defense, deftly building up a feeling of “When are these heroes going to catch a break?” (
See the greatest Part 2...EVER)

The ending (no spoilers here…) even had the Colonel doing a bit of a fist pump in anticipation of the final installment.

The problem I had with the movie is that it was simply TOO Long.

At 150 minutes, Pirates could stand, like the good Colonel, to lose a little fat around the middle. Maybe the Blond & I are getting old, but at times, I wanted to stand up and scream, “Get ON with it already! I’m falling asleep here!”

Did we really need the long sequence on the cannibal island? Walt Disney used to be relentless in his stand that unless a scene advanced the story, it did not belong in the film.

Both the Cannibal chase and the Waterwheel fight seem to suffer from the need to replicate the Blacksmith Shop Duel from the 1st movie and somehow improve on it.

Note to
Jerry, Gore, Stephen, & Craig: Making scenes (or movies) longer does not necessarily make them better.

Citizen Kane ran 119 minutes.

Casablanca was only 103.

The exception to the “two-hour rule” was once reserved for epics, like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Gone with the Wind”, and, of course,
12 hours in Middle Earth”. All of these films, and some others actually did require the time allotted to effectively tell their stories.

But these days, EVERYONE thinks he’s Peter Jackson, including Peter Jackson.
(King Kong: THREE hours and 8 Minutes. OK, Peter…the Monkey loves the Blond, the Island is Yucky, and Jack Black is a Schlep…I GET it already.)

It comes down to editorial discipline. Watch the Deleted Scenes on any DVD. There is usually a reason why they didn’t make the cut.

(OK, right here, I had a ton of other points I had wanted to make in this post. I even typed them in, but then I EDITED them. Get it?)

It’s still too long, Colonel…Sum up.

I go to a Pirates of the Caribbean Movie expecting to be entertained by the action, moved by the soundtrack, amused by the comedy, impressed by Johnny Depp, and annoyed by Orlando Bloom.

I don’t expect to nod off.

P.S. For a SHORTER, more Entertaining review, go to the BEE Blog.


Blogger Jilb said...

Good review. All true.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Reinman said...

I also think the goodness of "Pirates 2" (and it's superb ending - I haven't seen an ending so strong since "The Incredibles") will be directly tied to the goodness - or badness - of "Pirates 3."


There are too many parallels to the Matrix movies. This may come as a shock, but I didn't think "Matrix 2" was as bad as it was, until I saw "Matrix 3," which failed to pay off on any momentum built by the previous movie and therefore meant both of them were worthless, overly long, and ultimately unnecessary.

We hope the Pirates movies do not have the same fate in store.

8:25 AM  
Blogger the devine one said...

It was shorter than Superman...

9:06 AM  
Blogger Colonel Havoc said...

Yes. The Matrix observation is SO true.

Part three's stinkiness and sameness made Part 2 totally useless.

May it never be again, but we stand warned...

9:25 AM  
Blogger Jilb said...

You guys have way to much time to debate movies.

8:14 PM  

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