Peter Jackson's “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” was beloved by fans, critically praised, won 11 Oscars and featured some truly stunning battlefield sequences, but I'll always remember it for being a butt-numbing 3 hours and 21 minutes long. There's no excuse for that! I was crying by the end of that movie. Crying because I never thought it would end.
Let's face it: blockbuster movies are getting too long, and the worst offenders in this regard include such A-list directors as Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight Rises” at 165 minutes), Michael Bay (“Transformers: Age of Extinction” at 165 minutes) and James Cameron (“Avatar” at 161 minutes and can you imagine how long those sequels are going to be?). Thankfully, we have a high-profile savior in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who promises that the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel won't represent a cinematic endurance test in a new interview with Vanity Fair:
“…this new movie, first of all, it”s turning out really great. J.J. [Abrams] directed it so beautifully, and it”s so exhilarating and everything. It”s a big movie. It”s full of wonderful stuff, incident and character stuff and jokes and effects. One of the things that we always refocus on from the get-go was that it not be one of these very long, bloated blockbusters. A lot of very entertaining movies lately are too long. In the last 20 minutes, you think, why isn”t this over? We didn”t want to make a movie like that. I mean, we were really aiming to have it be-when it”s over you”ll say, 'I wish there”s more.' Or, 'Wait, is it over?' Because how rarely you get that feeling nowadays, and I think we”re headed there. But it means that there will be constant critical looking at it from now to the end, saying, 'Do we need this? Do we need that? Is it better if this comes out, even though we love it?' Killing your darlings.”
I trust Lawrence to make good on this, particularly given his past history with the “Star Wars” franchise: the two previous entries he co-wrote (“The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”) clocked in at a much more reasonable 124 minutes and 131 minutes, respectively. Of course, director J.J. Abrams will have the final say, but his longest-running film — 2013's “Star Trek Into Darkness” — was “only” 133 minutes.