MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland


Like Superman Returns, Pirates 2 is too long by about 30 minutes. And the script tends to bog down every time the story gets a bit complex for its own good.
Oh yes

53 Responses to “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”

  1. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    That was my feeling about the first one. It was 30m too long and there was no need for it. It’s a rousing fun swashbuckler not an epic. Why do studios equate running time with quality? Save those cuts you can’t stand to lose for the DVD (and save a fortune on prints, plus more sessions per day) and keep theatrical lean and mean. This is a constant gripe from audiences around the world – when will they start to listen?
    Or have I missed the boat and somewhere in middle america – families feel like they got their monies worth if the kids are kept busy for another 30m.
    good review dave.

  2. Wrecktum says:

    Unlike the first film, Dead Man’s Chest doesn’t meander. Scenes are pretty tight and serve plot and character very well. I can’t imagine any cuts that could be made. If anything, I wish a few scenes were added: how did the Black Pearl get to cannibal island? How did Pintel and Raghetti show up at the same place? But the film’s already 150 minutes so I guess its not important.
    This movie is enormous.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    I would rather see a long good movie and get my money’s worth. The stuff that was too long about King Kong was first-act ‘character development’ stuff that did not develop character or mood or anything. The stuff in Curse of the Black Pearl that was considered too long was, to me, juicy fun second act stuff that I was glad to see more of.

  4. Crow T Robot says:

    I can’t believe you guys are giving this great transgression of recent filmmakers a pass.
    If The Empire Strikes Back were made today it would be three hours long and nowhere near as great. Popcorn filmmakers du jour, even the ones I admire like Peter Jackson, are too self-indulgent and too long-winded to understand that economy of craft — that which you have the discipline to leave out — is as important as what you dream up to leave in. And there is nothing to indicate that audiences (with their increasingly short attention span after a decade of internet A.D.D.) want more than 2 hours in a light, fun adventure. Take a look at the first Men In Black running ALMOST 100 minutes… gloriously lean and mean.
    To me, a story running out of gas (like Pirates 1 did in its last act, and Kong did in the first), is akin to someone snapping their fingers in the middle of hypnosis… it might take five minutes to re-find the film’s rhythm and jump back in. It’s a road bump that, for me anyway, taints the whole experience. Easy to forgive but almost impossible to forget.
    So any theories on why movies of this type are getting longer and longer-winded?

  5. Roxane says:

    I thought POTC1 was about 30 minutes too long and with the exception of Johnny Depp nothing special. Which is why I’ll probably catch POTC2 on dvd.

  6. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Unfortunately Crow this is not a recent scourge on the scene. Long winded and bloated films were popular from the 50s onwards. However many of those in the pass were given a free pass because their running times were stretched to accommodate an all star cast. Nowadays you have CGI waves replacing William Holden extended cameos. Everyone complains about studios cutting films but whats a lot worse in my opinion is a director running loose with a free pass from studio for making a zillion dollars. Don’t get me wrong Gore V is a fantastic director, close to one of the best US directors on the contemporary scene – but when a film feels sluggish in the 2nd half as did POTC 1 – you just fucking cut the thing.

  7. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    And for those who say “hey moron POTC1 made a billion dollars” I’ll just say it would have made even more.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    I guess we can be thankful that Jerry Bruckheimer isn’t _always_ about raking in the bucks, then.

  9. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    And that jeffmcm doesn’t leave home without his amex and his sarcasm.

  10. jeffmcm says:

    I’m at home.

  11. TheManWho says:

    Few critics are as out of touch as Poland seems to be out as of late. Apparently, Dave, longs for a film, that features themes that strike his adult fancy. How absolutely boring.

  12. anghus says:

    i liked the first Pirates a lot. I’ve watched it a few times on DVD, and wish studios would make more fun movies like this. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequels.
    On an unrelated note, did you guys read the stuff about Superman Returns over at Chud, where not only do they lay waste to the movie (basically saying its a huge missed opportunity and nowhere near as compelling as Superman 1&2), they also claim any positive press from the movie has come from plants and payoffs. In a day and age where most sites seem to take few risks, it’s pretty ballsy.

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    ManWho: David is out of touch because he is an adult? Huh?

  14. Geoff says:

    I really dug the first Pirates, but it was certainly 30 minutes too long. I mean, that climax with Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush going at it with swords went on and on….and there was just no suspense to it, since neither was capable of being killed.
    It was as if Gore Verbinski just couldn’t bring himself to cut it, since it was those two very good actors strutting their stuff, showing off their swordplay.
    Sounds to me that he couldn’t resist similar indulgences, this time around. Since so much was spent on effects and they seem to be really exceptional, from what Dave is saying, he couldn’t bring himself to cut any out.

  15. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Kevin Smith once said one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard (i paraphrase here) “comedies should be no longer than 100 minutes” and I tend to think that these sort of blockbusters shouldn’t be more than 2 hours give a little of nudging room.
    But, still I’d rather a 2hour 30 minute Pirates than a 2hour 30minute Break-Up or something. Why are comedies so long these days anyway.
    Sorry… i went off on a tangent there.

  16. TheManWho says:

    Joe, in no way, is that what I implied. My perception, but Dave seems to long for cooler climes. Where there will be films that play more to his sensibilities. Since, it’s rather obvious at this point, that Poland has finally slipped off the map. After years of teethering on the edge.

  17. Wrecktum says:

    Pirates Part 1 was too long because the post schedule was so crushingly short that they didn’t have time in the editing bay to streamline the picture. Bruckheimer has readily admitted that, with more time, they could have knocked 15-20 minutes off the sucker.

  18. JckNapier2 says:

    Of all the short = good movie examples to use, Men In Black would be my last choice. It’s a fun movie, but my major complaint was that it was way too short. It’s barely 90 minutes at that. Point being, by the time the film settles in and we really get to know and like these characters, it’s off to the uninvolving 20 minute action climax, without ever dealing with any of the emotional issues that Jay faces from leaving his whole world behind (which should have been the main story arc, but that was saved for the underrated because of it sequel). If ever there was a film that could have been able to relax and breathe a little, it was the first Men In Black.
    As for the other argument, I find it absurd that anyone would advocate that we make filmmakers chop their films up to a more ‘reasonable’ length, using DVD as an excuse. I’m sick of studios like Universal (American Wedding, Chronicles Of Riddick) and Fox (Daredevil, Kingdom Of Heaven) butchering their films for theatrical release, promising to give us the originally intended movie on DVD. What exactly are we paying for when we buy our ticket if not the film as intended?
    Scott Mendelson

  19. palmtree says:

    I think ticket prices and all the peripheral costs are at a point when going to a movie means we want more. It feels more like we’ve gotten our money’s worth. It may make for a worse movie, but walking out of a movie feeling like it was unsatisfying and undeveloped is not good either. Especially with the way TV shows serialize things, we want to sit for longer and feel like we’ve been/done something/somewhere epic. Otherwise why even go to the theater. Don’t the long Harry Potter and LOTR movies prove that, let alone something like Titanic?

  20. Jimmy the Gent says:

    The first Pirates movie clocks in at 143 minutes. I freely admit that they could’ve cut about 13 minutes and the movie would not have felt a little…oppressive. Yet, I seriously doubt a tighter runtime would’ve made the movie any better. The problems with the movie were in its story, not its length.
    That’s why I’m looking forward to the sequel. I think the creative team realized what worked and what didn’t. Something tells me the sequel will know when to get out of a scene.
    If I read Poland’s review correctly, he believes we could see a fourth Pirates movie around the year 2017. Depp would be pushing 55. Do we want to see Depp-as-Jack at age 55? That’d be like seeing Harrison Ford playing Indi…

  21. palmtree says:

    Thanks for the review, Mr. Poland. I’m impressed…such a long review of Pirates 2 with no mention at all of Keira or Orlando. Very refreshing.

  22. Crow T Robot says:

    Damn… it just popped into my head what the possible surprise ending of Pirates 2 will be. I’m pretty sure it’ll feature a shining actor we all know and love. God I hope I’m wrong about this one.
    “Would that be the hot pants, sir?”
    “Ay, yes, the hot pants!”

  23. MattM says:

    I’ll say this–I leafed through the kids’ storybook for the movie at a bookstore a couple weeks back. The ending for this one is a potential HUGE shocker. Let’s just say that an “Empire Strikes Back” comparison would not be inappropriate.

  24. David Poland says:

    It’s interesting, Palmy… this happens on a lot of big movies with me. And I never really think about it until someone comments.
    They are both good. They look good. They bring much the same charms as they did in the first film. (Though Orlando does seem more like an adult than the boy reaching for manhood.) Their most interesting moments involve some of the film’s biggest spoilers. And these movies are not really about them, is it?

  25. repeatfather says:

    I really can’t wait to see this. Just some of the images from the trailer, like the column of eyes painted down Jack Sparrow’s face and the sword fight atop that rolling sphere, had me completely enthralled. There was no image from Superman Returns that had me foaming at the mouth.
    As for the running time, I’m actually pleased studios aren’t automatically cutting down these popcorn films so they can fit in as many showings a day as possible. I’d rather have studios erring on the side of too much than not enough. . .I would much rather go home feeling my stomach was going to explode from a cinematic buffet than go home still hungry.

  26. Ju-osh says:

    Repeatfather, I think you speak for all Americans in saying the above.

  27. Blackcloud says:

    Now all we need is for Superman to get out of the way.

  28. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Repeatfather “I would much rather go home feeling my stomach was going to explode from a cinematic buffet than go home still hungry.”
    And that’s exactly why Americans have incredibly high obese per capita figures. Supersize me yeeeehah! I always want to be hungry at the end of a movie, I want to leave WANTING more, and to not be fully satiated and bloated on an over abundance of extraneous scenes while jamming more coke and popcorn into my swelling girth.
    I get it. Movies are fat and bloated because they mirror their audience. End of story.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    So now the metaphor is a big Thanksgiving meal vs. a series of small snacks? If they’re both going to cost $9, I know which one I’d rather take.

  30. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Depends on how long you want to live chubby.

  31. Crow T Robot says:

    Boam brings up a real point about consumption and the “super size me” aspect of confectionary entertainment these days. Is this trend indicative of a change in taste or appetite? Does American gluttony transfer into it’s viewing habits? Would producers actually fear a one hour and forty minute Superman film?
    One thing there’s no debating; Jerry “More Cowbell” Bruckheimer is the Ronald MacDonald of the industry.

  32. palmtree says:

    I think the connection to gluttony, maybe, is that instead of the cliche of everyone having ADD, it’s more that everyone is more into passive involvement. TV breeds a kind of passive watching that can go on for hours and hours…it’s addictive and at its best time flies by. Whether people are doing this while snacking on lard is debatable. So yes, I think people are willing to sit through the “boring” parts because they are ostensibly out doing something where they can’t change the channel but it’s big enough to keep their attention.

  33. JckNapier2 says:

    Two thoughts…
    A) I don’t think there is any correlation between obesity and movie length (not sure if they were being serious on that one). I for one have always liked long movies as they allow you to have room for plot and character in between the set pieces. If anything, perhaps the longer running time is related to an attempt to get more people to the theatre (ie – longer movie = more for your money). Either way, I’d rather see a slightly overlong movie in the theatre then watch a butcherd 90 minute confection and have to wait till DVD to see the whole thing.
    B) I have never, ever understood the correlation between short movies and concessions. Maybe I’m in the minority but for me the length of a movie is DIRECTLY proportional to my likelihood to buy popcorn or soda. If I’m going to a 75 minute cartoon, I would never buy anything at the concessions. However, if it’s a long movie, I’m far more likely to justify spending the money on something to munch on.

  34. David Poland says:

    The difference between a 2 hour movie and a 2:30 movie is one primetime show per screen per day… which on a movie like Superman Returns is over 20,000 screenings on opening weekend.

  35. Crow T Robot says:

    This “buffet” argument is stuck in my head. If you can’t serve good food, serve a ton of food. If you can’t deliver an emotional experience, deliver as noisy a one as possible. If you can’t satisfy the audience, wear them out.
    According to IMDB, “Beverly Hills Cop” was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Where “Bad Boys 2″ was 2 hours and 27 minutes. Hmmm…

  36. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, and Scary Movie 4 is 83 minutes and North by Northwest is 136 and I know which one is in my DVD collection.

  37. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    if you had said Scary Movie 2, I would have said ‘touche sir’ but alas. Also by saying for your ‘ DVD collection’ you have unwittingly proven my point all along – so game set and match to moi.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    Because Scary Movie 4 is going to sweep the Oscars?
    I’m afraid I don’t follow your point re: DVD collections, either. There are no extended scenes in North by Northwest’s DVD.

  39. Sam says:

    I’ve never understood arguments about movie lengths. If it’s over two hours, it’s too long. If it’s under 90 minutes, it’s too short. Does this narrowminded reasoning exist in any other storytelling medium? Theater, maybe, but how about books? How many H.G. Wells novels make up a Tom Clancy? Quite a few, I would surmise, but nobody bats an eye at it. Sure, Dostoyevsky and James Michener have reputations for long books, but just because they’re at the end of the spectrum. Point is, it’s a wide range of acceptability.
    Surely this is because writers, readers, and editors of books understand something moviegoers do not. Some stories take a long time to tell. Other stories do not.
    I would agree that summer entertainments are getting progressively longer. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting bloated — it might just mean filmmakers are telling more involved stories and/or depicting more detailed characters.
    Definitely a lot of movies are too long, and when you look at the superficiality of many summer movie plots and characters that inhabit 2.5-hour movies, I see the point. But there are short movies that are too long, and long movies that aren’t long enough. As for Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a pretty epic world with a lot of stuff going on, and it’s fun as heck. What’s the point of telling a small story in a big world?
    All of you folks complaining about the length of the first movie — do you honestly think that if the theatrical cut had been 120 minutes, and a 143 minute director’s cut had hit the DVD, you wouldn’t have been lamenting that the “real” version hadn’t been in theaters?

  40. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    It seems that most are in agreement though that the original Pirates could’ve trimmed a bit of the fat (sorry, keeping the whole food theme going) and it would have been just as good. Who wants to sit through extra stuff that a) isn’t necessary and b) dragging it out.
    Most people are impatient.
    Jeff, the fact that you’re comparing Scary Movie 4 and North by Northwest is of note. As I mentioned closer to the top, Kevin Smith once said comedies shouldn’t be any more than 90/100 minutes and I think that’s true. Wedding Crashers would’ve been much better if it were shorter. The 40-Year-Old Virgin‘s original shorter release was apparently better than the extended DVD edition. Comedy, by pure virtue of it’s nature, is successful based on the jokes and rarely can a comedy sustain a steady stream of jokes for 2 hours before people start checking their watches. It’s just the nature of the beast.
    But a film like North by Northwest needs a running time of 136 minutes. If it were 86minutes like Scary Movie people would scratch their head at how rushed it was and so on.
    Interesting to consider though, if Fox had actually released the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven originally – would they have made more money or even less? Critics would surely have been more on it’s side, the it was also a very serious film released at the start of the summer and being 3 hours + or whatever it was surely would’ve hindered it. hmm…

  41. repeatfather says:

    Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor –
    Maybe my buffett analogy was a little too insouciant. I don’t mean to imply that movies should be bloated on principle. I just never liked the idea studios seemed to have that a movie over 100 minutes was inevitably going to strain the audience’s attention span. If it’s a well-made movie and well-edited, it should just be as long as it needs to be to properly tell it’s story. And I would much rather have the three-hour King Kong at my disposal than a sliced up 90 minute version. But I totally agree the movie could have been at least 30 minutes shorter.
    Whereas with X-Men 3, I think another 20 minutes of characters actually exploring the dilemmas they faced would have made the movie far better.

  42. repeatfather says:

    To extend what was intended as a rather silly metaphor, I’d like to point out that I would only gorge at a buffett where the food’s good. . .I’m not a fatty at the Chinese restaurant loading up on crappy crab rangoon and soggy egg rolls just for the sake of eating.

  43. David Poland says:

    Personally, I don’t think there is any rule. It really is a movie-by-movie issue.
    Bad Boys II is incredibly overlong.
    On the flip side, the documentary I’ve been raving about at the LAFF, Deliver Us from Evil, is 100 minutes… and so incredibly dense that it feels like more than 2 hours… not in a bad way… but in emotional time.
    On Pirates, basically where I saw the fat was in expositional sequences where I kept seeing what was stated to the audience in one shot spread out into two or three shots… often beautiful shots. And the complexity of the twisting story was probably one twist too many since we are suspending disbelief already and don’t need that much logic to get to the different set pieces that are so tasty.
    The editing room is were fine artists become great atists.
    “Too long” is possible at 90 minutes, even for a movie you are enjoying. There is a reason why none of the Bill Plympton feature legnth films have been big hits and that much of DW Animation has been under 90 minutes.

  44. Wrecktum says:

    “On Pirates, basically where I saw the fat was in expositional sequences where I kept seeing what was stated to the audience in one shot spread out into two or three shots… often beautiful shots. And the complexity of the twisting story was probably one twist too many since we are suspending disbelief already and don’t need that much logic to get to the different set pieces that are so tasty. ”
    Yes, you’re right, Poland. The exposition in Dead Man’s Chest does seem a little “spread out” (especially the Cutler Bartlett scenes). I’m sure they could be tightened upa bit. But how much time would that save? Five minutes? Hardly enough to assuage the concern that the movie is overlong by 30 minutes.
    Otehr stuff could have been rewritten (the Elizabeth ghost scenes…the “liars dice scene”…the Tia Dalma scene) to shorten the film, but all those scenes were so rich in character and mood that I can’t imagine the film without them.
    It’s always easy to say “the movie’s too long.” What’s tougher is saying how the movie could be shorter and whether cutting the film would affect the viewers overall enjoyment in a ngative way.

  45. jeffmcm says:

    I prefer the longer cut of 40 Year Old Virgin to the theatrical cut, because I enjoy the characters so much. If that movie had been 90 minutes long, it probably would have become shallow and uninvolving.
    But this is a pretty vague discussion. Every movie should be as long as it needs to be, and when it comes to footage, I would rather have it and not need it than the other way around.

  46. Blackcloud says:

    Is POTC3 definitely coming next summer?

  47. Wrecktum says:


  48. David Poland says:

    Was a pretty decent cutter in my childhood, Wreck. I could take 8 – 12 minutes out of this one with just internal cutting that no one would notice and only would feel an uptick in pace.
    Then would work on 3 or 4 scenes that could get to it much faster or be dumped.
    That said, there is some excellent cutting in this film and I am quite sure that pace issues were set by GV, not the editor (and certainly not the studio).

  49. palmtree says:

    Can I now officially dub May 2007 the battle of the trilogies?
    Spiderman 3
    Shrek 3
    POTC 3
    What did we do to deserve this month?

  50. Blackcloud says:

    I’m guessing Shrek 3 will be the weakest of the lot. I’m not a big Spider-Man fan, but those movies did provide some entertaining moments. The Shrek movies are just about the most overrated flicks ever.

  51. Aladdin Sane says:

    Why not leave Pirates 3 in a July spot? Not that it’ll make a lick of difference if this one kicks ass as some have claimed.
    Shrek 3 = are they done yet? I enjoyed the first one…the second one is good, but not as great…they should do just the adventures of Donkey & Puss in Boots. That would be worth watching. Hehe.
    Kamikaze, if Kingdom of Heaven had been released as the director’s cut, I wouldn’t have told my friends to wait for DVD (or the oft rumored extended cut). I really couldn’t justify telling someone to watch an okay, but not the best bang for your buck film.
    The extended cut on the other hand, is one of the best films I’ve watched all year. I’d tell everyone and their dog to watch it.

  52. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I hate Shrek 2. I found a new appreciation for the original Shrek upon seeing the sequel, and realising “Wow, it can get worse”
    Who wants to start making bets on how many pop culture referances Shrek 3 will have. I say 25,340,305,301. Just a hunch.

  53. Cadavra says:

    But isn’t it also true that most animated films (at least the ones targeting families) are under 90 minutes because very small children start to fidget past that point?

The Hot Blog

movieman on: BYOBlog

leahnz on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

leahnz on: BYOBlog

Stella's Boy on: BYOB - RIP The Goldfinch

Stella's Boy on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

leahnz on: BYOBlog

palmtree on: BYOBlog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima