Thursday 12 August 2010

Sometimes more really is more....

I've always felt that a great many modern films could be improved by the judicious snipping of about twenty minutes of material from the final print. If you see a film with a running time of over 2 hours its often a safe bet that the surplus is superfluous - I'm looking at you Cameron.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is an exception, there are obvious gaps where chunks of character development have been pruned out and the movie suffers as a result. In this case I would welcome a bloated self indulgent Director's cut.

Not that the film is perfect it has a pointless and grating prologue which adds no information that is not given later and does nothing except drain tension from the narrative. That has the strong stink of the gibbon about it.

Less easy to blame on the hooting of the studio primates is the lacklustre and oddly static climax but in this the Sorcerer's Apprentice is hardly alone; many recent action films including the A-Team and the last two Bonds have ended with action sequences that were less exciting than those that preceded them.

1 comment:

Stuart Ian Burns said...

I always like to try out this assumption. It's surprisingly accurate:

The ideal duration for a comedy is 90 mins (plus credits).

The idea duration for a comedy drama is 105 mins (plus credits). *

The ideal duration for a drama is 120 mins (plus credits).**

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is 112 mins and counts as a drama, I think. Including credits lets say the actual film's duration is 105 mins.

I'm guessing the fifteen minutes of exposition and messing about are were the actual film is.

* A grey area. But there are a lot of overt comedies with are 105 mins and too long and a lot of dramas the same length which are too short.

** Obviously epics are a bit more fluid, but they're also more episodic. Multi-stranded and ensemble films also tend to not quite fit these durations for the same reason.

BUT often both have too many stories & characters bloating up the screen time. I know this because I wrote a dissertation about them including a deep analysis of Love Actually which is at least fifteen minutes too long, but the problems were at script stage. Once everything had been shot there was nothing they could do. The original cut was three and a half hours.