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Old 2015-05-04, 05:34 PM   #1
Warcry
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Smile The movies are about an hour too long for their own good, aren't they?

Last night my wife and I watched Age of Extinction for the first time since we went to go see in in the theatre, and it really was a slog. The run-time is pushing close to three hours, and by the time it got up to around half-way through, it was really, really hard to care about anything that was going on. It hit me around the point where there's three big action sequences chained together one after the other (the attack on KSI, the battle with Galvatron/Lockdown and then the raid on Lockdown's ship), where it felt like a single 45-minute long exhausting action scene.

The way the rest of the movie before it was structured and paced, that would have been the sensible place to end it. But instead it went on for almost a whole hour after that, and I really found myself struggling to care about anything that was going on afterwards. So instead of being wowed by the fast-paced action in Hong Kong, we spent the last third of the run-time making fun of how Tessa somehow managed to stay completely clean and fresh-looking while every other human character got progressively more grimy and sweaty, or berating Optimus Prime for smashing half a city with robot dinosaurs (which surely can't be the way to convince humanity to stop hunting you?) before freeing them to maraud around the Chinese countryside.

I distinctly recall feeling similarly weary with DOTM, too, and thinking that the final battle scene dragged on for way too long (to the point where I'm not even sure I've ever watched the DVD someone gave me of it). And ROTF drags quite a lot as well, though in that case I think the problems can be blamed more on an incoherent plot than on pacing per se. The original film is the shortest of the four and also the only one that I enjoyed all the way through.

By the end of the movie, even though there were a lot of things about AoE I liked I was just tired of it all. Is it just me, or do some of you find the movies to be a draining experience as well?
 
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Old 2015-05-04, 05:54 PM   #2
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Two hours is about as long as either my back or attention span will last in a cinema, and I pay even less attention to drawn out action sequences outside of those environments.

Was travelling when the first one came out, saw the second on a big screen (and it's the only one I'd generally stick on because it's fun with being big and obnoxious), can't remember where I saw the third and didn't pay much attention to AOE. The last couple have had the feel of design by committee.
 
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Old 2015-05-04, 06:40 PM   #3
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Probably. I vaguely remember being annoyed by the last one in the theatre but I can't remember why. Didn't Carly have the same weird shit going on with her clothing in DOTM as Tessa did, or am I not remembering that correctly...?

I'm pretty sure most of them wouldn't stand up too terribly well to a rewatch, but I generally don't expect much out of them to begin with. So who knows.
 

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Old 2015-05-04, 07:34 PM   #4
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I don't have a problem with long films- as I think I said at the time Days of Future Past more than justified its length by having a lot going on in it- and can see why movies are pushing the two and a half hour limit considering that not constrained by a time limit and 3D are pretty much the only things that make the ever increasing price of a cinema ticket look good in comparison to TV.

But AoE was definitely too long. Not even in a subjective way, it's the one criticism everyone seems to agree on (along with the Getaway creepy "I'm not a child molester, I have a bit of paper saying so!" scene).

Considering the films already have a lengthy action scene in Chicago, that's what I'd have cut. Have Lockdown take Optimus straight to Hong Kong and have his rescue going on in parallel with Galvatron coming alive and the running about with the Seed.
 
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Old 2015-05-05, 08:24 AM   #5
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Yes they are. I find DOTM harder to get through than AOE, mind. That's probably because I've had enough of Shia's mewling 40 minutes into the third one.

AOE could have been so good if they'd just trimmed it down - get rid of the aforementioned creepy 'I'm not Ian Watkins' bit, have the bad guys HQ'd in Hong Kong from the get go rather than "Right. Lets go here now" and cut a;; the stuff with Chicago...I'm basically repeating what Dalek said, aren't I? But its hard not to agree that these scenes are just unnecessary.

I doubt we'll see it in the next film, but it would be nice to say Bay focus a little more on the story and try be a bit more economical.

I do miss the days of the 90 minute film. 2 hours plus is all very well, but not if you haven't got the story or the justification for such a long run time. And 3D can just f**k off.
 
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Old 2015-05-05, 08:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
get rid of the aforementioned creepy 'I'm not Ian Watkins' bit,
Yeah, I get there are different age of consent laws in America and with her being a schoolgirl and him a creepy adult meant it had to be addressed. But why not just make Irish O'Irishman the same age as her? It's not as if this film series has a problem with casting people blatently too old to be 16 as characters aged 16. Nor does Markey Mark actually need all that much incentive to dislike him.

That was big thematic issue with the film as well- it feels as if the lesson of the day should be Mark learning to accept his daughter has grown up and can now make her own choices. Instead it becomes him passing on the responsibility of being in charge of her to another man. I'm not sure how that works with the Prime analogy either as Optimus is quite happy to bugger off and leave his "Children" to their own devices at the end without even announcing who will be standing in for him.

The fact that- after accepting the inside of a vast alien spaceship with an indifference that borders on the inability to act- the Girl One is the one who screams and panics about heights is a problem as well (or rather- as it's a perfectly natural position to be scared in- that the two men are manly and brave throughout that scene).

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I'm basically repeating what Dalek said, aren't I? But its hard not to agree that these scenes are just unnecessary.
Trust me, talking like me will get you all the chicks.

Damn, after all that decrying of the sexism of the film I went and ruined it with that last sentence.
 
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Old 2015-05-05, 03:49 PM   #7
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The last couple have had the feel of design by committee.
Considering the way action movies in general are made these days, that's probably a solid assumption. AoE in particular felt like they had a list of eye-catching action sequences and product placements passed down from on high that the scriptwriter had to build a film around, rather than the action sequences arising naturally from the story they were telling. Whereas they started filming ROTF before they even had a finished script (due to the writers' strike) and the join lines between the different segments aren't hidden very well.

And I just realized I remember almost nothing about DOTM, but I'm probably safe to assume it was the same way.

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Probably. I vaguely remember being annoyed by the last one in the theatre but I can't remember why. Didn't Carly have the same weird shit going on with her clothing in DOTM as Tessa did, or am I not remembering that correctly...?
She probably did, though I can't recall her doing much of anything in the final act other than calling Megatron a bitch. I don't think it would have been nearly as egregious in that case, though. Didn't she spend 90% of the battle as a prisoner in Dylan's penthouse? Whereas Tessa somehow went through two or three solid days of battle without even chipping her nail polish.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
I don't have a problem with long films- as I think I said at the time Days of Future Past more than justified its length by having a lot going on in it- and can see why movies are pushing the two and a half hour limit considering that not constrained by a time limit and 3D are pretty much the only things that make the ever increasing price of a cinema ticket look good in comparison to TV.
Yeah, that's the thing...if there's enough story to tell, the length can be justified. The Dark Knight went on forever but there was so much meat to it that I don't even notice while watching it. But AoE (which runs, what, 15 minutes longer) stretches out a much more slender plot until it's paper-thin, making all the flaws and logic gaps so much more noticeable.

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AOE could have been so good if they'd just trimmed it down - get rid of the aforementioned creepy 'I'm not Ian Watkins' bit, have the bad guys HQ'd in Hong Kong from the get go rather than "Right. Lets go here now" and cut a;; the stuff with Chicago...I'm basically repeating what Dalek said, aren't I? But its hard not to agree that these scenes are just unnecessary.
The fact that you could cut all that without losing any plot points says a lot, doesn't it? In fact, the plot would make more sense then because they would have freed the Dinobots right away instead of happily leaving them in their cells until they needed them to eat things.

Also, is it just me or did the Chicago scenes (and the movie's discussion of the battle there in general) really seem to minimize what happened in DOTM? At one point Frasier says something about a thousand people dying and I had to go back because I was sure I misheard him. How in the world did the Decepticons kill so few people when they spent an entire day bombing a city with starships, rampaging through it on foot and having a mile-long metal worm thing tear up buildings? In DOTM it looked like the whole city had been razed, probably with millions of deaths, but now it's all fixed up like nothing even happened.

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I doubt we'll see it in the next film, but it would be nice to say Bay focus a little more on the story and try be a bit more economical.
I wouldn't have much hope for Bay doing that, but with all the talk about a "cinematic universe" I assume that means they'll bring in different directors for some of the movies and we might get to see a different take on the franchise that way.

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Yeah, I get there are different age of consent laws in America and with her being a schoolgirl and him a creepy adult meant it had to be addressed.
Did it really? I mean, it's not like she was dating a forty year old. He's twenty and she's graduating high school in, like, a week. That's perfectly normal. I mean, Cade will freak because he's an overprotective psycho, sure, but I don't see why anyone else would care, or why that Irish goof would carry around a copy of state law to prove it's okay.

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That was big thematic issue with the film as well- it feels as if the lesson of the day should be Mark learning to accept his daughter has grown up and can now make her own choices. Instead it becomes him passing on the responsibility of being in charge of her to another man. I'm not sure how that works with the Prime analogy either as Optimus is quite happy to bugger off and leave his "Children" to their own devices at the end without even announcing who will be standing in for him.
But the last half of the film makes it pretty crystal clear that Tessa is dumb as hell and has absolutely zero common sense, so I'm pretty sure if she was left to her own devices she'd wind up being eaten by coyotes within a week. Which is a complete reversal of the first half of the film where Cade is an airheaded, irresponsible moron and she's the one taking care of him, so maybe he's just self-aware enough to realize that stupidity runs in the family?

The entire human cast of AoE is pretty severely unlikeable though, even by the low standards set by the previous TF films. The only one I didn't hate was the British archaeologist lady.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
The fact that- after accepting the inside of a vast alien spaceship with an indifference that borders on the inability to act- the Girl One is the one who screams and panics about heights is a problem as well (or rather- as it's a perfectly natural position to be scared in- that the two men are manly and brave throughout that scene).
What's really jarring about that scene is that five minutes beforehand Irish Guy was pissing his pants and trying to surrender while Tessa was in a different part of the ship hacking the tongue off of that alien with a dull chunk of metal. But the script seemed to go out of its way to make her progressively more and more worthless as the movie went on even though it established her as the only one in the group with half a brain in the first act.
 
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Old 2015-05-05, 09:08 PM   #8
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I'm not sure if that gap is normal or not... IMO world of difference in experience between high school/2-3 years out of, but you do see it all the time IRL. Icky.

I do remember now that I found it kind of gross how they played up the sexiness factor on a character that was supposed to be "underage" though.

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She probably did, though I can't recall her doing much of anything in the final act other than calling Megatron a bitch. I don't think it would have been nearly as egregious in that case, though. Didn't she spend 90% of the battle as a prisoner in Dylan's penthouse? Whereas Tessa somehow went through two or three solid days of battle without even chipping her nail polish.
After watching a couple of vids on the ol' Tube of You I'm pretty sure I'm combining the two characters in my head. Can't imagine why.

Think I'm gonna have to do a rewatch of the films, there's so much I've forgotten.
 

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Old 2015-05-05, 11:49 PM   #9
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Yeah, they all could be about one subplot lighter. The first one could lose the hackers, the third one could lose the "Autobots all die 2/3s the way through OH NO WAIT THEY'RE ALIVE" thread, the fourth one could have condensed Chicago and Hong Kong and just have the KSI headquarters in China to begin with... The second one needs more work than the rest of them, but that's understood.

The problem is that, the way that the movies are shot, you can't go hacking all that stuff out in the editing room and have it still flow. It needs to be done at the scripting level. And while I get that, at some level, they're the big tentpole releases that only come by once every two or three years for the brand and the producers want to give a show that runs long enough to satisfy the Transformer itch for that amount of interval, we have plenty of other tentpole movies that are also too long in the meantime.

I would like to see in the expanded film universe a shorter, more comedic film. Just get John Tuturro and Alan Tudyk again and, ****, Gears or somebody. It'd be like the The Stoogers if one stooge were a giant robot.
 
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Old 2015-05-06, 12:12 AM   #10
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To be fair, its not just the Transformer films. So many "summer blockbuster" films seem to think that more is more and way more is just terrific. The recent Hobbit trilogy was particularly trying for me. And remember the Pirates of the Holy shit, they-really-are-making-a-meal-out-of-this-cinema-snack trilogy.As said above, some films can justify it like Dark Knight but most feel like they are stretching things just for the sake of one more action scene. Which is odd, as you would think that removing a scene would be more what the producers would push for. And its a complaint that comes up in reviews all the time. Go figure.

In relation to AoE, I actually thought it was ok but I do remember watching it with my friend and at one point he remarked "I just cant see an end to this". I thought that summed up my feelings too - the relentless "heres another scene" approach to the end took away from what was Bays best action work in my view.
 
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Old 2015-05-06, 06:48 AM   #11
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Considering the way action movies in general are made these days, that's probably a solid assumption. AoE in particular felt like they had a list of eye-catching action sequences and product placements passed down from on high that the scriptwriter had to build a film around, rather than the action sequences arising naturally from the story they were telling. Whereas they started filming ROTF before they even had a finished script (due to the writers' strike) and the join lines between the different segments aren't hidden very well.
All big action films are made that way though and have been for decades. You'll be amazed how many stunt scenes in Bond films were written for earlier entries in the series and dusted off when they were finally able to pull them off (my personal favourite being the chainsaw wielding helicopters from The World is not Enough, their being cut from Goldeneye due to budgetry reasons is why Bond's product placement BMW gets a lengthy scene explaining all its gadgets only for it to them just be driven).

From a practical level, big fight scenes are so dependant on things other than the writter- getting the location, being able to set things up, affording the CGI that coming up with what you can do first and then working towards it is probably the only way these films can be done. There's no real excuse for experienced writers not to be able to manage it well, especially as there don't seem to have been any outside constraints this time beyond Hasbro going "Please put some of our toys in the film". The final result is just a bit sloppy.

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Did it really? I mean, it's not like she was dating a forty year old. He's twenty and she's graduating high school in, like, a week. That's perfectly normal. I mean, Cade will freak because he's an overprotective psycho, sure, but I don't see why anyone else would care, or why that Irish goof would carry around a copy of state law to prove it's okay.
I assume it must be an issue for Americans- or more likely their censorship board.

It could be a fiendish deconstruction of the treatment of women in the earlier films, after all, we were encouraged to enjoy the view of Megan Fox even though her character was supposed to be the same age. Having someone go "That's a bit pervey" and "Put some clothes on!" is possibly a satire.

Could be. And possibly.


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The entire human cast of AoE is pretty severely unlikeable though, even by the low standards set by the previous TF films. The only one I didn't hate was the British archaeologist lady.
Ah, Sophia Myles. Once seemingly destined for great things, here I spent most of the film thinking she was Rosamund Pike. Her character could easily have been merged with quasi-Blackrock's Chinese girlfriend as well. Especially as the whole opening of the film could be cut as well, just have the Transforminum being made from the dead Transformers and- as it's a limited supply- that's the reason for their deal with Lockdown. It would have avoided the silliness of ancient Cybertronain tech being all over the planet by complete coincidence in every single film.


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What's really jarring about that scene is that five minutes beforehand Irish Guy was pissing his pants and trying to surrender while Tessa was in a different part of the ship hacking the tongue off of that alien with a dull chunk of metal. But the script seemed to go out of its way to make her progressively more and more worthless as the movie went on even though it established her as the only one in the group with half a brain in the first act.
Yeah, it's likely just inconsistent writing (was one of those sequences originally intended for the other character and they got switched?) rather than intentional sexism. But the end result is still sexist.
 
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Old 2015-05-06, 06:53 AM   #12
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There's nothing wrong with being sexy...
 
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Old 2015-05-07, 04:10 PM   #13
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I'm not sure if that gap is normal or not... IMO world of difference in experience between high school/2-3 years out of, but you do see it all the time IRL. Icky.
Yeah, that's what I mean. Whether or not you think it's icky, it happens all the time, nobody's going to jail for it, and if they were 18 and 21 instead of 17 and 20, it wouldn't even be remarked on by most normal people.

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I do remember now that I found it kind of gross how they played up the sexiness factor on a character that was supposed to be "underage" though.
Between this and the way the script repeatedly stresses that the relationship is perfectly legal, I just assumed that someone on the production team is an old perv who likes to bang teenagers.

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The problem is that, the way that the movies are shot, you can't go hacking all that stuff out in the editing room and have it still flow. It needs to be done at the scripting level.
Not just that, but once the CGI process is started you can't toss an action scene out without shitcanning hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars worth of work. So you're absolutely right...they'd have to streamline things at the script level in order to make any cuts.

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To be fair, its not just the Transformer films. So many "summer blockbuster" films seem to think that more is more and way more is just terrific.
That's quite true. It's an issue with movies in general nowadays, not just Transformers ones, though I'd say that the TF franchise is one of the worse offenders.

Honestly, I'm surprised their hasn't been any backlash from cinema chains, distributors or even production studios about this. Tickets to a 2:45 movie cost exactly the same as tickets to a 1:30 movie, after all, and by making the movies longer they're reducing the number of showings they can do per day.

I suspect that's why they're pushing 3D so hard these days in spite of practically nobody actually liking it. It lets them make a few bucks extra per ticket.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
All big action films are made that way though and have been for decades. You'll be amazed how many stunt scenes in Bond films were written for earlier entries in the series and dusted off when they were finally able to pull them off (my personal favourite being the chainsaw wielding helicopters from The World is not Enough, their being cut from Goldeneye due to budgetry reasons is why Bond's product placement BMW gets a lengthy scene explaining all its gadgets only for it to them just be driven).
That's different, though! If the Bond people actually have the common sense to cut scenes that are unnecessary and hold them back for use in future films, then they're doing it right! The TF films don't do that. They throw everything in they can think of and wind up having so much action that they leave you numb afterwards.

Ironically the TF films are a victim of their own success. They make so much money that the studio is happy to toss them a $200 million budget, but they'd probably make better movies if they had a lower budget that forced them to pick and choose which big action set-pieces were the most important to include.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
It could be a fiendish deconstruction of the treatment of women in the earlier films, after all, we were encouraged to enjoy the view of Megan Fox even though her character was supposed to be the same age. Having someone go "That's a bit pervey" and "Put some clothes on!" is possibly a satire.
I wouldn't give them that much credit.

Besides, Fox's character was actually a treated like a real person by the script, rather than a one-dimensional sex prop that existed only to be fought over by men.
 
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Old 2015-05-07, 07:59 PM   #14
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Honestly, I'm surprised their hasn't been any backlash from cinema chains, distributors or even production studios about this. Tickets to a 2:45 movie cost exactly the same as tickets to a 1:30 movie, after all, and by making the movies longer they're reducing the number of showings they can do per day.
Cinemas make almost 0 money off of ticket sales and almost all their money at the concession stand. 2 packed theaters are just as profitable as 3 half full ones. As long as enough people buy over priced candy, bladder buster soft drinks, and heart stoppingly butter filled buckets of popcorn there isn't anything to complain about.
 
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Old 2015-05-08, 03:48 PM   #15
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Not just that, but once the CGI process is started you can't toss an action scene out without shitcanning hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars worth of work. So you're absolutely right...they'd have to streamline things at the script level in order to make any cuts.
Yeah, I'm not aware of many (any?) major effects sequences being cut from a film after the effects work has gone beyond pre-vis stage (the Krypton opening of Superman Returns maybe? That seems to have been chopped very late in the day), certainly very few where the effects were all done. That's why these things need to be tightly planned and sometimes it seems that the cart is before the horse.

Having too much money to spare is likely a factor as well.


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Honestly, I'm surprised their hasn't been any backlash from cinema chains, distributors or even production studios about this. Tickets to a 2:45 movie cost exactly the same as tickets to a 1:30 movie, after all, and by making the movies longer they're reducing the number of showings they can do per day.
Yeah, it used to be a serious consideration and many a film has fallen foul of the "This needs to be under two hours for maximum screenings!" rule, which now makes me think of Aliens which may indeed be a movie that had finished effects sequences cut from it (if there are any in the special edition? I've never actually seen the theatrical). I guess they figure people are more willing to pay out for a longer film now than a short one? For the price it might as well become a full day out.
 
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Old 2015-07-16, 02:43 PM   #16
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I'd agree with pretty much all of the above (despite loving the films) but that the TF films are just symptomatic of modern action franchises. Every film has to be longer, bigger, more expensive and top the one before is the problem, which means more dodgy CGI (and I found AoE to be a big disappointment in these terms, as for the first three there was basically about as little CGI as possible considering the robots and everything) and ever-sillier; the problem is that's what most of the audience wants.

They won't pull back and go in a different direction unless there's a dip in takings - and sadly both X-Men and Spider-Man have shown that is only a temporary measure as if your soft reboot does well some dickpipe will just come along and make exactly the same mistakes.

There just seems to be a rule that blockbusters have to be 2 1/2 hours long now, which is a stupid length for that sort of film. Long films I can handle fine - Ran, Lawrence of Arabia, Once Upon a Time in America etc, etc - but they've got to be good, not "hey that was kinda dumb but there was a good fight at the end".

But then cinema's an absolute ****ing trainwreck at the moment. This shows the sheer dearth of imagination the studios have of late -
"let's make a sequel of something/let's remake something/let's make a film out of this comic" seems to be the only gamble the studios are willing to make.
 
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Old 2015-07-17, 01:25 PM   #17
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I'd agree with pretty much all of the above (despite loving the films) but that the TF films are just symptomatic of modern action franchises. Every film has to be longer, bigger, more expensive and top the one before is the problem, which means more dodgy CGI (and I found AoE to be a big disappointment in these terms, as for the first three there was basically about as little CGI as possible considering the robots and everything) and ever-sillier; the problem is that's what most of the audience wants.
Yeah, and to be fair it's easy to see why cinema goers want the length and spectacle. I mean, even beyond the cost, once you've sat through the hundreds of adverts and trailers you've been in the cinema half an hour already, you really need a lot to follow that to not feel completely ripped off.

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They won't pull back and go in a different direction unless there's a dip in takings - and sadly both X-Men and Spider-Man have shown that is only a temporary measure as if your soft reboot does well some dickpipe will just come along and make exactly the same mistakes.
Can't speak for the failed attempt to relaunch Spider-Man but, speaking as someone who was really gunning for Singer to fail (due to being someone who likes X-Men 3 and wanting to see the pedestal fans put him on knocked a bit) that Days of Future Past more than delivers on the fresh and fun promise of First Class and handles its run time better than many summer films do by giving its large cast a lot to do.

It's really annoying to be proven wrong like that.

Mind, I really can't see the point in the extended Rogue Cut. The theatrical release works perfectly fine as a film and at no point felt like there was something missing, even Rogue's mute cameo in the final version works as it's part of an "X-Men walk on" sequence. Whatever was in there, the decision to delete it seems perfectly sensible and to the betterment of the film.

Mind, who knows, maybe I'm wrong there as well?

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But then cinema's an absolute ****ing trainwreck at the moment. This shows the sheer dearth of imagination the studios have of late -
"let's make a sequel of something/let's remake something/let's make a film out of this comic" seems to be the only gamble the studios are willing to make.
Mind, that list is a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, many of the films on there wound up so expensive because of difficult productions (often having the cost of failed earlier attempts to makes films thrown at their budget), it's unsurprising many of them wind up a bit of a train wreck.

How Quantum of Solace cost that much though I'll never know.
 
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Old 2015-08-20, 03:07 PM   #18
inflatable dalek
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I was thinking on this the other night when watching Back to the Future 2. There's a film that is less than two hours long (indeed, I was surprised to see it's actually shorter than the third one despite having a hell of a lot more going on in it however fun Part 3 is) but packs a ridiculous amount of event into it. You've basically got three distinctive locations all with their own basically separate plots and which needs to impart a huge amount of information in each of them even beyond the requisite humour and action scenes.

And it still manages to not feel rushed, there are slow moments and quiet beats that aren't completely needed (it takes the time for Marty to take in the world of 2015 for example). It's actually easy to see how they originally thought they could fit the Western stuff in there as well, today it probably would be a bloated three hour film with that rammed in as well and everything just a bit too condensed with no time to breath.

Compared to that, Age of Extinction does feel like three hours of basically nothing happening.

Mind, the treatment of Jennifer is pretty much worse than what any of the females in the Bay films get. "Oh Christ, we didn't know we'd do a sequel and we've got the girl one in the car! Best just knock her out and ignore her as much as we can for two films". It's especially bad when Doc lists who doesn't regard 1985A as reality and includes the dog but not her! That ages the film far more than the idea that people in 2015 will have a fax machine in every room.
 
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Old 2015-08-20, 05:36 PM   #19
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I always thought the first Men in Black did brilliantly with its short time. 77 minutes I think, making it very fun as it zipped along. I would love films to go back to this sort of length.

A good compromise I thought was the theatrical and extended versions of LotR. The cool thing was both editions had their plus points; the theatrical was not simply a hatchet job of the extended.
 
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Old 2015-08-20, 11:45 PM   #20
Red Dave Prime
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Dont know about the LOTR films being a compromise. They still feel very overlong and padded to me. A mate of mine reckons that big films tend to go overboard with the long panning establishing shots (essential the costa splash page technique but with the opposite effect of lengthing instead of shortening) and I kind of agree. I think Honest trailers did a lord of the rings one and there are so many scenes of them walking - and not just to establish a location. Multiple fly bys, 360 swings etc. It must bloat the films by a good 20-25 minutes. Same with films like fast and furious and transformers - lots of slow-mo shots to show off a cool, admittedly nice shot but adding feck all to the film and its story bar run time.

I get the feeling that the reason BTTF2 and many of those films are more tight is because they were on tighter budgets. Not tiny budgets but not the sprawl that so many modern films get to. There are a lot of big budget films each year now - or at least it seems that way to me.
 
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