Best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s weeklong celebration of the entertainment that made this past year so memorable.
Sometimes even when you’re looking forward to a movie, you’ll look at the runtime and groan. I wanted to see Robert Pattinson’s take on the Caped Crusader but The Batman being nearly three hours long seemed like a bloated experience before I took it in. Thankfully, that was the first of many times I was wrong this year as several three-hour movies wound up being among my favorite cinematic experiences of the year.
Trust me, I’m glad that most movies aren’t this long, but it’s nice to see plenty of examples of three-hour movies done right this year. Let’s take a look at four movies that showed throughout 2022 that long runtimes aren’t necessarily a bore.
As mentioned, The Batman comes in just under the three-hour mark but are we gonna squabble over four minutes? That’s close enough, and you know the saying — close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and movie runtimes.
Director Matt Reeves uses the length wonderfully as he takes his time to establish interesting characters and villains, while also giving Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne a chance to actually be a detective. Having moments to breathe really helped the film and allowed for the action scenes to feel all the more impactful when they occurred. Plus, with Warner Bros. already having plans for building out spin-off shows, such as The Penguin, and telling more stories within the universe, taking the time to flesh out its version of Gotham clearly paid off as fan interest is at a high for more.
RRR truly feels like a ride with its many twists, turns, and thrills that it offers up. From toe-tapping musical numbers with tremendous dancing to the incredibly charismatic performances of both N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, there’s no element that fails to impress. However, even if they’re often brought up as the highlight, there’s so much more than the bombastic action moments that make RRR one of the most special movies of the year.
Over the course of 182 minutes, director S. S. Rajamouli uses the extended runtime to carefully make us connect with its characters. We get to see Bheem and Raju become the best of friends via an extensive montage and a lengthy look at Raju’s past during a sequence that adds new depth to the character’s motivations; every segment is confident rather than rushed through. All these elements combine to create a film that has you rooting for its heroes and it all ends in one of the most satisfying sequences of the year. Stakes are simply raised when you’ve been through so much with such a likable duo.
It’s also worth noting, like all Indian movies, RRR featured a 10-minute intermission (or “inteRRRval” in this case). Granted, this has a more natural point for a pause built-in than something like Avatar, but it might be something worth considering for larger movies moving forward. It’s certainly nice to stretch your legs, chat about what has happened thus far, and get more refreshments without missing anything.
Avatar: The Way of Water
James Cameron knows the plus side of not rushing a story. Some of the greatest moments in The Way of Water are simply getting to take in the world of Pandora. Getting to spend an hour of the movie watching the Sully clan learning to adapt to their new way of life and seeing the bond between Lo’ak and Payakan develop is nothing short of special. It’s key character development and rushing it would’ve been a true disservice to the narrative.
Despite having a runtime of 192 minutes, there isn’t a single second here that is worth cutting. Every moment is necessary and advances the story. Cameron takes theatergoers on a journey and there’s enough time to fit in some of the best action sequences of the year as well. The final 30 minutes of action on the water are some of the most intense and gorgeously shot moments I’ve experienced this year.
The final movie of the year to crack the three-hour mark is Babylon, which is one of the most striking and riskiest movies of the year. Its 189-minute runtime isn’t quite as well constructed as RRR or Avatar as some plots are underserved during its various time skips, but it still remains quite the cinematic ride, especially when paired with its stellar soundtrack.
Where Babylon succeeds, though, is in how it shows the peaks and valleys of its characters, juxtapositioning the change over time. The once indulgence-filled and over-the-top parties of the silent movie era get replaced with sophisticated cocktail parties, while actors and executives alike struggle to change with the time. Over three hours, viewers truly get to see the changes in their lives, and this all builds to make Brad Pitt’s final scene as Jack Conrad all the more meaningful and poignant.
Ultimately, Babylon is a celebration of cinema and the impact it can have on a person. The desire of wanting to be a part of something bigger. As its incredible ending demonstrates, art is a beautiful thing and there’s nothing wrong with the occasional three-hour escape to the movie theater. No matter what happens, you won’t be bored when it’s done right.
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