The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Don’t do it!
A few months ago, toward the end of 2018, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed that they were about halfway through the editing process and that the film was coming in around three hours long. This week, in comments given to Collider, the Russo brothers said the film is still right around that length, give or take a minute or two on either side:
We’re still doing work to it. We’re not done with it. Again, this is a culmination film of 22 movies, it’s a lot of storytelling to work into it. Emotion is an intrinsic part of that to us. When you have to tell a really complicated story and you want strong emotional moments with the characters, it just requires a certain amount of real estate. This one, in particular, feels like three hours worth of real estate.”
And that’s … I don’t know, fair? It’s not entirely unfair, at least. Infinity War checked in 20 minutes short of three hours and still left a lot of ground to cover. This is their last crack at this story and they have about 75 characters with distinct-ish character arcs, many of which involve separate individual lucrative franchises. There’s a lot of business to be done here and a lot at stake. I can see the temptation to just take the extra time to do it right. But I still really, really hope this movie is not three hours long.
I have two areas of concern here.
The first is my long-held and often-stated belief that nothing should last longer than two hours. Sporting events, awards ceremonies, most weddings, all would be better if we kept them under 120 minutes. It’s especially true of action movies, though, and especially true of the in-theater experience of watching an action movie. Three hours is a long time, man. Add in the drive to the theater and 20-30 minutes of trailers and that’s most of a Saturday afternoon. If you watch it at home, at least then you have the option to pause to run to the kitchen or bathroom or split the movie into chunks. You can create your own intermission. I know I can get fidgety around 100 minutes. I could use a breather.
Now, I know I’ve already lost this fight, in general, and I am admittedly a hypocrite about it. I saw all 160 minutes of Infinity War in the theater. Mission: Impossible — Fallout was 147 minutes and I adored it. I’m just an old man shouting at the clouds at this point. I intend to keep shouting (good for the lungs, if nothing else), but I know it’s pointless. This part of the battle has already been lost.
The second reason is the bigger one, though. Once we do this, once we all agree that a three-hour action movie is a thing we’ll accept, I don’t know if we can go back. There’s been a kind of boundary there at that length, only to be crossed by auteurs making sweeping epic passion projects. Titanic, Godfather Part II, Lawrence of Arabia. Even the third Lord of the Rings, the only other recent action-y, big budget movie to dance with the line, had the decency to win an Academy Award in an attempt to justify its length. But if we do this… let me put it this way: Michael Bay made Transformers movies that clocked in north of two and a half hours. Do you understand? Transformers movies. It gets a lot harder to send him back into the editing room — I’m picturing a live tiger sitting next to him — to make cuts when he can use “Ahhh but Avengers…” as a justification.
We need to look at the big picture, people. We need to acknowledge the slippery slope we’re on here. Avengers: Endgame is going to make multiple billions of dollars no matter how long it is because its built-in audience is locked and loaded and invested. But once it does that, once a three-hour action movie becomes a money-shoveling blockbuster, it’s all over. Do you want to live in a world where every summer blockbuster is three hours long? Think about that, please. Because I do not. Not even a little. This is a matter of principle. A line must be drawn. I’m trying to save us all and no one is listening to me.
I feel like Al Gore over here.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — R.I.P. Oreo
Speaking of The Avengers movies and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in general, it is with a heavy heart that I deliver this news: Oreo, the real-life raccoon whose likeness was used as the inspiration for Rocket from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, has passed away.
I am only kind of joking — 15-20 percent, max — when I say that Oreo should be in the In Memoriam tribute at this year’s Oscars.