Pacific Rim Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight has confirmed the sequel’s runtime will be around two hours, keeping in line with its predecessor. On the heels of the recent confirmation Justice League clocks in as the shortest installment in the DC Extended Universe to date, the topic of movie running times has been a hot button issue of late. Many viewers want their most anticipated tentpoles to be epic in scale and scope, feeling that the only way to achieve that is to shoot for an “epic” runtime in the neighborhood of three hours.
That fallacy has been disproven by numerous films throughout history (see Dunkirk for a recent example), and we’ve made the argument “shorter” runtimes can be a benefit – as they ensure a movie doesn’t overstay its welcome. In a perfect world, every story would be as long as it absolutely needed to be, and that’s a mentality DeKnight has as he works on editing Uprising down to size.
In an interview with Collider, the filmmaker revealed the runtime he’s going for, explaining why he feels two hours is the sweet spot:
“It’s resting right around two hours. I always shoot for two hours. If I was doing Lawrence of Arabia it would be a little longer, but otherwise I think the two-hour mark—this is just for me as somebody that loves movies and watches movies, two hours is always right around the sweet spot. If it’s much less than two hours then I start to get a little suspicious, if it’s much more longer sometimes a movie will support that but sometimes you just get a little worn out.”
As DeKnight says, there are films that definitely warrant protracted runtimes in order to tell their narrative. For instance, it would be difficult to do a faithful adaptation of The Lord of the Rings without making the theatrical version of the trilogy about nine hours total. Still, his comments very much ring true. Few movies need to be three hours in order to fully develop all of its arcs, and since Pacific Rim is a franchise about giant robots fighting giant monsters, DeKnight seems to understand that if he went for the length of a latter day Transformers picture, audiences’ patience would run thin. Considering the original movie ran for 131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes), Uprising should be just fine if DeKnight is able to keep it where it currently is.
It’s great to see DeKnight has such a strong read on what he wants Pacific Rim Uprising to be, but the running time is ultimately one of the least significant aspects of the film. The fact that it’s two hours long says nothing about the potential quality of the story the creative team has in mind (though, it’s a step in the right direction). Fans will have to wait for the first wave of reviews in order to see if Uprising is a worthy followup, but it’s encouraging to know viewers won’t have to clear out an entire afternoon to see a screening.
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