It's a good thing it's sunny out because there's piss all opening at the theatres this week as a Dark Knight looms over everything. Hollywood is scared of Christopher Nolan's new Batman flick (dropping at midnight, Thursday, July 20) which is expected to be the biggest draw of the summer.
So this week we get Ice Age: Continental Drift — an animated movie about talking prehistoric animals separated from their families when Pangea breaks apart and a million years of geologic time occurs in six or seven minutes of screen time.
And then some animal pirates show up or something, I don't know... I have about 30 animated movies at my place, including two other Ice Age flicks but my kid doesn't watch them. He's seen both Cars movies about 300 times. Same with the Kung Fu Panda series, Chicken Run and Baby Einstein's Farm. And yet he's unable to make it through an Ice Age movie without leaving the room to either break something or crap himself. Ice Age movies are not "kid-approved" at my place — some movies just don't have it and trying to figure out why as an adult is essentially waste of time.
Speaking of time, how long should a movie be? What's the ideal runtime for a night at the theatre? Quentin Tarantino is known to get uppity about the fact that people will watch a three-or-four-hour sporting event but won't sit through a film that long. The new Batman (officially known as The Dark Knight Rises) is two hours and 45 minutes long but few will likely complain. Batman Begins was 2:20 and The Dark Knight was 2:30. Even Inception, Chris Nolan's 2010 mind-bending dream film, weighed in at a hefty 148 minutes. All were huge critical and commercial successes.
This suggests that a film can be any length it wants so long as everything in it is awesome, but the truth is that Christopher Nolan is probably the exception that proves the rule. Most movies aren't good enough to make it past a certain point.
Horror and comedy usually drag after 90 minutes (often due to studio-inserted romantic storylines). Drama (like The Descendants), psychological thrillers (Take Shelter) and action films (Casino Royale) can often make it to the two-hour point but anything longer is kind of pushing it. Historical epics (Gladiator) or smart sci-fi (Avatar, Prometheus) will run over two hours because they exist in a unique (interesting) world but then there's crap like Transformers 2 that runs so long and loud it begins to feel more like a sensory deprivation chamber than a movie. Romantic comedy, I think, should never be more than 70 minutes (and if they cut the cheese-dick montages they mostly would all be that long) but audiences will accept a 100-minute rom-com because of all the "characterization" and "witty repartee" (aka, cliché and drivel). Even Ted, the best romantic comedy to drop in ages, felt overly-stuffed at 1:55.
Ted is still playing at the Village 8 and Garibaldi 5, as is Magic Mike. Both are worth checking out and you may as well make sure to check the new Amazing Spider-Man in order to compare it to the new Batman.
Savages, the Oliver Stone's marijuana-war/love triangle actioner is still playing in Whistler and if you want to see some of the smartest marketing to come along in ages check out Savage Living on Vice.com. Incredible featurettes about a Mexican looney bin run by the loons, confessions of an undercover DEA agent and a behind the scenes look at a Californian medical marijuana grow op.