Have Movies Gotten Longer?

As I was telling my father about the fantastic Django Unchained  he immediately asked me how long it was. 2 hours and 45 minutes was my response, and he said, “oh of course, movies just keep getting longer.” That comment was my inspiration behind jumping on my computer, and researching the length of movies. This bring me to the question: 

Have Movies Gotten Longer?

I figured that the best way to jude would be to base this off of best picture nominees at the Oscars, as those are typically the most memorable films of the year. I averaged the 10 best picture nominees from each decade until the age that my Dad would have started watching movies (around 1980). Once I got to 1980, I averaged 10 films from every 5 years. Lastly, I took the average of the three most recent years (2010, 2011, 2012). These were the average lengths of the films in each of the given years…

  • 1929-1932: 104
  • 1940: 116
  • 1950-1951: 119
  • 1960-1961: 144
  • 1970-1971: 134
  • 1980-1981: 134
  • 1985-1986: 126
  • 1990-1991: 140
  • 1995-1996: 129
  • 2000-2001: 138
  • 2005-2006: 126
  • 2010: 112
  • 2011: 125
  • 2012: 135

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 10.06.43 PM

Are Movies Getting Longer? No.

If we went back to our Algebra 1 days… this graph would be deemed as no correlationIt looks like this was an appropriate saying if you lived in the 50’s, but in modern cinema, no. Just because you see a few lengthy movies in a row, that does not mean that they are getting longer.

In Theaters this Week (March 29-April 4)

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Expectation: 20/100

What was Paramount thinking? After the disaster that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was both critically (34% on Rotten Tomatoes) and financially (income of $150 million on a $175 million budget) one would think that they would realize that this whole G.I. Joe idea is one to throw away, but nope. After the June 2012 release date was pushed back to expand upon Channing Tatum’s character due to his new level of stardom, it was clear that there was very little faith in this film. Dwayne Johnson will continue to attempt (and fail) to prove himself as an action star. It looks like it will be more of the same for the G.I. Joe series (not a good thing), and all that we can do as viewers is hope that this is the last time Paramount wastes their money on this failed reboot of a previously successful franchise. G.I. Joe was cool in the 80’s, but not anymore.

Expectation: 40/100

Expectation: 40/100

Based upon a novel coming from one of the most famous modern authors, Stephenie Meyer, is The Host. What else did she write, you ask? Ever heard of Twilight? No way! Hold up, it can’t be that bad can it? I don’t think so. I’m not saying it will be good, but it would have to be quite the disaster if it ended up as bad (and successful) as Twilight. It will attempt to follow the same path as Twilight with the ” teen epic romance” genre, which is a disaster of a genre as it is (see: I am Number Four). At least it doesn’t have Kristen Stewart in it :p. I’m having trouble finding positive or negative things about The Host, so I expect it to be as mediocre as the prologue and trailer suggest it to be.

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Expectation: 10/100

What is Tyler Perry? Is he an overweight old woman? Is he a comedy writer? Or is he a dramatic director? Some would say all the above, but personally I think he should stick to being an old woman. The fact that he must put his name on everything that he does just shows how desperate he is for people to recognize him as a legitimate filmmaker. All of his films are embarrassments to the screens that they are shown on, and don’t expect Temptation to be any different. In fact, if it is different, it might even be worse. Keep trying Tyler, maybe you will finally make a film worth watching, but that film will not be Temptation. Actually, maybe he should just stop trying.

Expectation: 90/100

Expectation: 90/100

As I said in my previous edition of ‘In Theaters this Week’ my most anticipated movie of 2013 comes out this week. That movie is The Place Beyond the Pines. With my newfound respect for Bradley Cooper as an actor and my never-ending appreciation for Ryan Gosling, the cast looks very strong. The only questionable decision was the casting of Eva Mendes, but from what I’ve heard, she does a decent job in her role. The entire epic vision behind ‘Pines’ is really what gets me excited. I’m also a big fan of movies that take place over an extended period of time, and this film takes place over a 19 year period. Yes, the prologue and trailer did scream Drive to me too, but if you were to ask me what my favorite 2011 film was, it would be Drive, which makes the idea of “Drive with a twist” sound pretty damn good to me. Not to mention that Blue Valentine was a true piece of beauty, which makes director Derek Cainfrance’s name one that instantly grabs my attention. It should be noted that March 29th is the limited release (April 12th wide release), and it will only be playing in four theaters (two in LA and two in NYC).  I am fortunate to live within 4 miles of one of those four theaters, but I am on vacation in Chicago until Tuesday, so don’t expect a review until Thursday. I will be sure to also include this in my April 12th edition of ‘In Theaters this Week’.

An interesting fact is that my average expectation for March was a 47. All we can hope is that April is something that gets March out of our minds.

This week starts a string of three weeks in a row where there is a film that will have above a 75 expectation rating :D!

District 9 (2009)

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Directed By: Neil Blomkamp 

Written By: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell 

Starring: Sharlto Copley 

Nominated for 4 (won 0) Academy Awards (Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Visual Effects)

As I was going through the list of every Best Picture nominee, I stumbled upon a film that has been towards the top of my watch list for a long time.. District 9.

20 years ago, an alien ship came to a stop over the city of Johannesburg. Different from most alien related films, District 9 does not take place during the invasion. For a change, the humans are actually in control of the aliens. Just those two points previously mentioned already set District 9 far apart from just about every other alien movie, but just because they like being different, part of the film is done as a mockumentary. I will not go into farther detail about the film because the best thing about District 9 is the constant twists and turns throughout the film.

Chances are that you do not recognize any of the names listed under the poster (neither did I); therefore, one of the key goals of the creator, Neill Blomkamp, was to get a “big name” on board with the project. That “big name” ended up being the one and only Peter Jackson. I am a big fan of just about anything that Mr. Peter Jackson touches, and District 9 is not an exception. Peter Jackson’s name on the poster is an instant money maker, but the person that made this film great was not Jackson himself. It was writer/director Neill Blomkamp. District 9 has apparently been his baby ever since he graduated from film school in 1998, and that reflects clearly in the film. Every detail in District 9 seems like it was clearly thought out. District 9 has established Neill Blomkamp, at least in my opinion, as one of the best new writer/directors.

The performances in District 9 are decent at best, but this is a film that does not require strong acting. After all, since when do we go see sci-fi movies for the performances? The effects were some of the most convincing that I’ve ever seen, and the beauty of those effects take your mind off of the acting. Sharlto Copley was solid in his role, but the supporting cast was extremely mediocre.

My main issue with District 9 was the dialogue. This is tricky because its writing is both its strength and weakness. The basic premise behind District 9 is fantastic; however, the dialogue is remarkably cliche. I found myself knowing what the character would say before he said it. With that being said, do we really go to see a sci-fi movie if we’re expecting extremely well-written dialogue? The Best Adapted Screenplay nomination must have been for the idea behind the movie, and not the dialogue itself.

The racism undertone that the movie has is a great touch to the film. Also, it was a welcoming change to cinema seeing a film set in Johannesburg and hearing a different accent than we’re used to. Blomkamp does a great job of paying homage to the city that he grew up in. The mockumentary style of filmmaking will be disliked by some viewers, but to me it was once again a pleasant change to the sci-fi genre.

Overall, District 9 is a modern science fiction classic that will not be soon forgotten.

IMDb: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 91/100

Metacritic: 81/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 81/100

Later this year will be Elysium starring Matt Damon and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Mark your calendars for August 9th because this is a film that viewers should get very excited about.

In Theaters this Week (March 22nd-28th)

'Olympus has Fallen'

‘Olympus has Fallen’ (40/100)

Is this what is now considered entertaining? I just can’t see myself spending the time to go see a film that is designed around such a poor idea. ‘Olympus’ just looks like a low-budget superhero film, but without superheroes. There seems to be nothing new in ‘Olympus has Fallen’. This is the kind of film that people reference when they claim that the industry is dying. It’s unoriginal and makes excessive use of CGI. Despite the a-listers, I don’t expect too much out of this release. My Expectation: 40/100

'The Croods'

‘The Croods’ (70/100)

Something that I do not think I have mentioned since starting this site is that I am a fan of animation. While most of it is, by my standards, crap, a few times a year you stumble upon an animated film that is actually worth watching. ‘The Croods’ looks like it may be one of those films. Even though it looks like we will see some 10 year-old humor lying within the plot, ‘The Croods’ looks like a fresh take on the animated comedy genre. It does not appear to be on the same level as some of Dreamworks other films (‘How to Train your Dragon’, ‘Shrek 1 & 2′), but it looks like it will be a strong effort nonetheless. My Expectation: 70/100

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‘Admission’ (35/100)

Brace yourself because I am about to say something that may offend a lot of people.. I do not find Tina Fey very funny. With the exception of ‘Mean Girls’, her cinema efforts (‘Baby Mama’ and ‘Date Night’) have been utterly disappointing. ‘Admission’ looks to be in the same class as the two previously mentioned films. I expect to see a decently funny comedy, but nothing to get excited about. Not to mention that Paul Rudd is one of the most annoying actors in the comedy business. My Expectation: 35/100

Next week, my most highly anticipated film this year comes out! It looks like next week will be the one good week that stops March from being a total disaster.

United 93 (2006)

united_ninety_three

Directed and Written by: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Many Various Actors

Nominated for 2 Academy Awards (Direction and Film Editing)

United 93

On September 11, 2001, four planes were hijacked. The first two planes hit each of the World Trade Center’s. The next plane hit the Pentagon. United 93 tells the heroic story of the fourth plane, which crashed in a field 170 miles away from Washington DC. Passengers on this flight discovered their fate through phone calls to their families that told them details about the fate of the other 3 planes. United 93 does more than just tell the story of the fourth plane, but also takes you inside the control center’s and shows you how chaotic this day really was for everyone involved.

Of course with any film like this, there is a lot of hate surrounding the story. I took the time to find some negative reviews, and the points that these reviewers make are extremely insensible and moronic. The details that they point out are minor and do not present any evidence to disprove what the film discusses. 9/11 is a very difficult topic because no one really knows what happend inside the planes; therefore, forcing film makers to improvise on the events that occurred. United 93 does a great job of keeping the story understated and believable. The main negative comments that I see are, “too soon” and, “no one wants to watch heros die right after performing a life saving act”. Have we as humans become too caught up in the fiction that runs our world? Can we not face the bitter reality of the world that we live in?

Best Director nominee Paul Greengrass

Best Director nominee Paul Greengrass

Congratulations to Paul Greengrass for taking a VERY sensitive topic, and doing it in a way that was muted and, in a sense, relatable. The viewer finds it easy to put himself in the shoes of the passengers, which is very difficult seeming most of us have never been on a hijacked plane before. The academy did a great job of giving Greengrass his nomination, but not nominating the film itself (wasn’t deserving that year).

Greengrass’ use of unknown actors is done so that the film is not full of all the Hollywood crap that we see far too frequently. Just imagine if we had Brad Pitt rebelling against terrorists on United Airlines Flight 93, it simply would not seem right. The performances given by generally unknown actors are a highlight of the film. Every actor has a limited amount of screen time and the characters do a great job of making all 111 minutes count.

While the understatement of the film was necessary due to the time that this film was made (less than 5 years after 9/11), it is the flaw of the movie. You miss out on seeing the true tragedy of 9/11. 9/11 is simply too alive in peoples’ minds for a real film to be made about the subject.

Overall, United 93 was a very difficult film to make, and Paul Greengrass does a very good job of doing so.

IMDb: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 91/100

Metacritic: 90/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 77/100

In Theaters this Week (March 15th-21st)

March 15th

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What happend to Halle Berry? After she won her Oscar everyone expected her to explode with great roles. Since her Oscar she has done some awful movies such as Catwoman, New Year’s Eve, and Movie 43. Is ‘The Call’ another movie I can include to that list? Unfortunately, I think so. While the movie looks decently made, the script seems to be the flaw. It seems to be incredibly unbelievable. While I commend writer Brad Anderson for trying to be original, the idea behind The Call simply does not look good enough. I hope to see a compelling thriller, but I just don’t think it will happen. My Expectation: 50/100

Burt-WonderstoneBefore you right it off, maybe it will be the same kind of funny that we have all grown to love. Maybe it will fall in the same category as some movies that we have all seen, such as: Austin Powers, Anchorman, and Zoolander. At least we can all hope so. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has an all star cast featuring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin, and the smoking-hot Olivia Wilde. I’m not saying that ‘Burt Wonderstone’ will be good, but I am telling you not to write it off quite yet. My Expectation: 55/100

Upside_Down_Poster

If I had just heard about the release of Upside Down, I would maybe be slightly excited for it; however, I first heard about a Summer 2012 release, then a Christmas 2012 release, and now a March 15, 2013 release. This shows the lack of confidence that the studio has in the movie. There is not much original here, the idea of two Earth’s has been explored before (never very successfully I should note). Also, I think the idea of a Romance is the wrong direction to go with the film, and it pushes away the sci-fi crowd that would have otherwise been attracted to the idea. My Expectation: 45/100

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I just took the time to watch the trailer for ‘Spring Breakers’, and can someone please explain to me what the hell I just watched? It seemed as if the whole storyline is watching hot girls run around in bikinis with their new boyfriend that they found on spring break. How did they manage to make a 94 minute film out of that? Selena Gomez is finally trying to break her Disney image. Vanessa Hudgens needed a pay day (and apparently she didn’t mind getting naked for it :o). The other two girls are simply trying to save their careers. James Franco looks like he will continue to prove that he is the biggest ass hole on the face of the earth. I’m shocked by the high reviews that I have seen so far, and it has really thrown me a curve ball as far as my opinion on seeing this film. At the end of the day, no amount of positive reviews can convince me to go see ‘Spring Breakers’. My Expectation: 35/100

In Theaters this Week (March 8th-14th)

March 8th

ozgreatandpowerful-thirdposter-fullWhen I saw the trailer for ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’, my heart screamed Alice in Wonderland (produced by the same man), and I think that the movie itself will be equally as disappointing. It will be visually stunning, but as for character development and depth it seems like it will be lacking. This movie is based upon a classic tale, but don’t expect anything classic out of the film. It is Disney, so it will have some strengths… It will look great visually , have a great score done by Danny Elfman (4 time oscar nominee), and of course it will look “expensive”. $200 Million dollars is a lot of money to spend on a movie, and honestly ‘Oz’ does not look like it was worth it. My Expectation: 50/100

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It seems that this movie has really gone under my radar. It wasn’t until I was going through the list of coming soon movies that I even noticed it. After watching the trailer, it does look like it might give real New Yorker’s a very homey feel. It looks like it does not take you into the touristy parts of New York, but instead takes you right into reality. Other than that, I did not see much to get excited about from Dead Man Down. In fact, the only thing that kept me from writing it off altogether was the director, Neils Ardin Oplev; however, the movie is produced by WWE studios, so really how much can you expect? My Expectation: 40/100

emperor-posterEmperor did not realize quite how lucky they got with the casting of Tommy Lee Jones. This is Jones’ first movie since coming off of Lincoln where he was nominated for an academy award. He was the favorite, but he ended up losing to one of the stars of Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz. Emperor had a trailer that got me excited, but all the reviews that I have seen have stated that the movie is a let down. It seems  like it will improve your historical education, but apparently nothing more than that. After doing a search, I could only find two theaters that are showing Emperor (I live in Los Angeles), so if your living in a smaller town, you might be out of luck. My Expectation: 55/100

Nothing to get too excited about this week.