“Oh man, it’s still going? How much longer of this is there? When is this movie going to end?”
It may seem like a copout critique, but some movies really do suffer from being way too long. Once upon a time the ends justified the means; some older films needed more time to set up characters and plot points when dealing with certain material. A rare breed of movies benefit from an extended runtime, but these following newer films certainly don’t.
An extensive runtime without a justification means the audience gets bored quick. Instead of being enthralled in the action, viewers will start checking their watches in anticipation of leaving the theater, which is never a good sign for a movie. A long run time alone doesn’t make a movie awful, but it certainly doesn’t help.
Here are 14 Movies That Were Way Too Long.
14 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2h 31min)
Kicking off our list is one of the most polarizing movies to come out this year. When Batman v Superman was announced back in 2013, fans went completely bananas. Not only was this going to be the first time the two most recognized DC heroes were going to be featured on the big screen together, but they were going to go toe-to-toe in an all-out brawl. In that sense, Zack Snyder delivered, with a brutal and gritty street fight; all 8 minutes of it.
This left the remaining runtime of the nearly 3 hour film to show clunky setups for the Justice League movies, and meander about with subplots with Lois Lane and a super peppy Lex Luthor. Batman v Superman suffered from a lot of problems, but one of the biggest was being too long, with a lack of focus. Having a two and a half hour movie titled Batman v Superman only have 8 minutes of the actual confrontation is like having Godzilla show up in the last 10 minutes of a movie titled Godzilla. Oh, wait a minute...
13 The Hateful Eight (3h 7min)
Quinten Tarantino is a guy who loves showing the audience the small things. He’ll have characters do the simplest of tasks, like eat breakfast and talk about hamburgers, but shoot them in such a way they’re still completely enthralling to an audience. He might have gone a bit overboard in shooting the mundane in his newest movie however, The Hateful Eight. Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, the director creates unbelievably drawn-out scenes, and while most of them work, a few of them don’t.
A 5 minute shot of watching a person pound poles into the frozen ground so they can find their way to the outhouse gets a little tedious. There’s a lot of shots in the movie which makes the viewer stop and think, “Wait, why am I being shown this?” The endless barrage of quiproquos towards the end of the movie droll on farther than they should as well. Tarantino has his unique brand of filmmaking, but it doesn’t mean he has to let all of his ideas make their way on to the final cut.
12 Transformers: Age of Extinction (2h 45min)
The Transformers movies have been growing in length ever since the first entry was released in 2007. The newest addition to the franchise, Age of Extinction, really ups the ante by putting in a runtime that’s almost as long as The Godfather. Giant robots fighting each other are fun to watch, box office numbers reflect as much, but not for 3 hours. The runtime is especially jarring since all of the human characters aren’t relatable and the plot is totally nonsensical.
When you don’t have any interesting characters or a story that makes sense, then your audience loses interest quickly. With nothing else to latch on to the viewer waits for the next bombastic action scene which, in Age of Extinction, gets real old real quick. Michael Bay could have easily shaved off an hour from this movie by cutting back on the contrived humor and repetitive robot fights.
11 The Revenant (2h 36min)
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s sweeping epic is beautiful, tense, astounding...and exhaustingly long. After Leonardo Dicaprio’s Hugh Glass gets horribly mauled by a bear and witness the murder of his son, we watch his tumultuous journey to achieve his revenge, and what a journey it is. The audience watches as Glass is hunted by Native Americans, is chased off of a cliff, and climbs into a horse’s fresh corpse to brave a blizzard, Empire Strikes Back style. After the first hour you’ll sit intensely at the edge of your seat. After the second hour, you’ll start to wonder how many more bad things can happen to poor Dicaprio.
Leo finally won an Oscar for this picture, and he definitely deserved it. The runtime will leave you emotionally drained and in awe for what Dicaprio went through in this grueling production. As much as we enjoy watching the actor though, 2 ½ hours is more than enough time to watch him groan, pant and crawl himself across the finish line.
10 King Kong (3h 7min)
In comparison to the original, Peter Jackson’s take on King Kong runs an extra hour and a half, making it nearly twice as long. While the special effects are breathtaking, 3 hours is a long time to devout to watching needless character backstories. The actors are great, especially Jack Black's, but people come to a movie like this to watch Kong tear it up on screen. It’s hard to invest in a movie then that doesn’t show the titular monster until roughly one hour into the movie.
While Peter Jackson’s efforts were rewarded with box office success and critical acclaim, the movie itself can be a bit of a chore to get through. Large sections of the first third can be edited down to make the experience more accessible for audiences. Most of the scenes tend to drag, especially when a bulk of them include heavy exposition. Here's hoping the director at the helm of Kong: Skull Island gives us more of the famous ape and less buildup.
9 Meet Joe Black (2h 58min)
The premise behind Meet Joe Black is an interesting one: What if Death fell in love? The Grim Reaper here is played by Hollywood stud Brad Pitt, and after taking the form of a young man, Death falls in love with the daughter of the media mogul he's supposed to be taking to the grave. The project is certainly ambitious, combining all the elements of a drama, fantasy and romance. With all these ideas, it unfortunately bites off more than it can chew, and director Martin Brest should have realized that less is more.
Most of the film is devoted to the relationship between Joe and Susan, which becomes tedious and just plain dull. In actuality, there seems to be about only an hour and a half of plot here which is inexplicably stretched out over a 3 hour movie. The structure comes crumbling down in the last half hour, which almost abandons its dark fantasy elements and instead culminates in a feel-good ending. For a film that deals with the personification of Death, a lot of the scenes should have gotten the ax.
8 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2h 49min)
Johnny Depp reprises his role of Captain Jack Sparrow in this third swashbuckling go-around, which is much longer than its predecessors. While the first film was praised for being a fun entertaining adventure, the series quickly became longer and more brooding with each new installment. It culminates in World’s End, which is a jumble of ideas that stretch out the time length to unbearable levels.
The plot walks off the plank as we watch the movie descend into a chaotic mess of sorts. In its defense, the series was never about realism, but the third film borders on the point of plain ridiculousness. There are giant pirates, tentacle monsters, Keith Richards, the list goes on and on. The only thing worse than sitting through an excruciatingly long movie is sitting through an excruciatingly long movie that plain doesn’t make sense. Depp should have used his swashbuckling skills to cut and slash some of the unnecessary subplots out of the final cut of this movie.
7 The Dark Knight Rises (2h 44min)
After The Dark Knight, moviegoers couldn’t wait to see Christopher Nolan’s final installment in his Batman franchise. The director was praised for bringing a gritty realism to comic book movies, reinventing the genre entirely, though in The Dark Knight Rises, maybe that realism was just a tad too much to handle. Rises is so brooding and stretched out it leaves the viewer rather fatigued.
Rises has an unbelievably bad habit of including far too much exposition. Every moment recollected comes equipped with an unnecessary flashback sequence. Alfred just mentioning the café at the beginning would have been enough, but instead we are shown the scene making the ending fairly easy to predict.
Unnecessary subplots are added that eat up far too much time that should have otherwise been spent on Batman himself. The Caped Crusader doesn’t even show up in his own film until after the first hour or so. While the fight with Bane is certainly noteworthy, a lot of fat could be trimmed to make The Dark Knight Rises really rise instead of swaying halfway towards the ground.
6 Spectre (2h 28min)
The name's Bond, James Bond. And the movie is long, real long. Spectre holds the achievement of being the longest 007 film, a title which doesn’t hold much weight. While the long run times in other entries are excusable, in Spectre, it just feels unqualified. Besides being mindbogglingly similar to Skyfall, the story in Spectre is unsatisfyingly more lackluster than its predecessor.
The plot is pretty much as basic as it gets. Bond is tasked with tracking down a certain bad guy who has a personal vendetta against James and MI6. Many scenes have the secret agent wandering about until he finds a clue, and then follows said clue to his next exotic location. Finds a clue, next location; clue, location. And the movie goes on and on like this until it eventually, just, ends. Spectre achieved the almost unbelievable feat of making a Bond film boring.
5 Bad Boys II (2h 24min)
Michael Bay is a peculiar sort of filmmaker, as the director just can’t seem to differentiate between making a film that’s long and making a film that’s good. Bad Boys II is no exception, running a half hour longer than its previous installment and twice as offensive. The first Bad Boys certainly isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, but it was an enjoyable ride thanks to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s chemistry on screen.
7 years later and Bay comes up with the idea to do a sequel that’s missing everything that made the first movie so much fun. Bad Boys II is sexist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and worst of all, way too long. Sitting through this botched buddy cop movie should be rewarded with a certification of achievement. The ending result is a 2 ½ hour endurance test that suffers from production overload. Hopefully the next two rumored installments will be much more enjoyable, and much shorter.
4 Funny People (2h 26 min)
With a title like Funny People, you would expect a knee-slapper of a good time, especially with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen on the face of the project. Unfortunately, Judd Apatow’s dramedy is the equivalent of watching The Terminator and then finding Schwarzenegger doing standup at a comedy club. Funny People doesn’t exactly make us laugh, but it does make us depressed with its hyper realistic themes and overbearing 2 ½ hour runtime.
Apatow shows time and again that he lacks any form of restraint when it comes to editing the final cuts of his films. They usually run over the 2 hour mark, which doesn’t mean more laughs, but more contrived examples of obligatory emotion. A vast collection of subplots could be removed to make the movie flow much smoother (read: everything with Eric Bana). Apatow leaves them intact however, and gives the audience a film that promises laughs and instead delivers groans asking how much left of this movie there is.
3 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (3h 21min)
The film that racked up 11 Oscars and enormous box office success. Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King is a good film, a great film even, but a perfect film? That could be debated, particularly with its bloated runtime of nearly 3 ½ hours. Most of it is well deserved, depicting gigantic battles and allowing time for crucial character development to really flourish. However, there is the small infamous issue over the ending that never, well, ends.
Every time the epic fades to black with promises the credits will start rolling, it cuts to another draw-out and forced farewell. Clearly Jackson took the time to send his characters off in style, but too much of a good thing can end up backfiring. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a classic example of a film that should have just ended 10 minutes earlier than it did.
2 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2h 22min)
No doubt the Star Wars prequels suffered from a number of problems. Stilted acting, oversaturated CGI and ham-fisted dialog run rampant in George Lucas’s second sci-fi trilogy, but their biggest problem is their sluggish runtime. The excessive amounts of backstories and throwaway characters combine to make a lackluster story seem even more boring, and none of the prequels are quite as boring as 2002’s Attack of the Clones.
The second in the trilogy has Anakin Skywalker have a slight brush with the dark side without quite getting there. Instead a very forced romance story that no one needed to see annoyingly takes up a bulk of the runtime. We get Anakin and Padmé skip[ing through the fields talking about how coarse sand is while Obi-Wan sleuths around playing detective. Not the most interesting narrative for a Star Wars movie. An entire hour could be removed that no one would miss, heavily comprised of all those sweet nothings between Skywalker and Amidala on Naboo.
1 Pearl Harbor (3h 3min)
3 hours is a long time to sit through a film that fumbles through history. Michael Bay’s epic is not an accurate portrayal of the events surrounding Pearl Harbor. Worse yet, it’s not even an interesting movie. You would think that with all of its historical inaccuracies Pearl Harbor would at least give us a compelling narrative to substitute, but what we get instead is the worst of all its intentions. It’s one part schmaltzy drama, one part lame comedy, and one big biographical failure.
Like all of Bay’s movies, they’re occasionally stunning to look at, but almost impossible to listen to. The cinematography and set designs are sweeping, but impressive visuals only get you so far. The script is littered with clichés and forced heroism that makes Top Gun look like Lawrence of Arabia in comparison. Like so many of the above examples, Pearl Harbor’s runtime is agonizing for its lack of intelligence or maturity.
Bay’s war epic is in serious need of some trimming, starting with the forced love triangle between Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, and ending with the whole retaliation sequence on Japan that was tacked on to the story. A good war movie might be hiding somewhere inside Pearl Harbor (the actual attack scene is remarkable), but it would take a lot of trimming and editing down to find it.