Find out which cinematic epics are more worthy of your time…
I don’t want to talk about the Snyder Cut anymore. I don’t want to hear about it anymore. Twenty minutes in and I certainly didn’t want to watch it anymore but watch it I did. The only thing that I’ll say on it here is that unless you really, really need to like this monstrosity, then anything – and I mean literally anything – would be a better use of your time. If you really want to watch a film for instance, there’s a whole host of three-hour plus films that are so much more worthy. In the time it’d take you to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you could watch any of these movies and still have time to a) cook up a decent meal, b) make love at a fairly leisurely pace, or c) sit and contemplate whether you’re in the darkest timeline where two bad Justice League films were necessary. So here are five long-as-heck movies you could, and should, watch instead of the Snyder Cut.
Avengers: Endgame (3hr 01min)
Imagine you’re handed the reins of a franchise 11 years and 21 films in the making, with a cast of dozens of top-billing stars and the expectations of millions to live up to, and you’re asked to wrap it up neatly with a bow. If you can make that even watchable, you’ve already done something pretty impressive. The Russo Brothers did that and more – Endgame is funny, fitting, awe-inspiring throughout the entire second half, and a surprisingly touching send-off to a number of core characters. I don’t even particularly like Endgame, but it seems appropriate to include it in this list, and like the film or not, you have to respect the Russos for pulling the whole endeavour off. Not many movie series’ get to end naturally, instead facing cancellation or reboots in light of dwindling critical reception or ticket sales, so to see something come to a conclusion so perfectly is a real sight to see – even if it does have to resort to time-travel gobbledygook to do it.
Schindler’s List (3hr 15min)
Let’s jump straight from the funny end of the scale right into one of the most depressing films ever made. There’s no denying that Schindler’s List is not a fun family flick you can snack on popcorn to, but it’s nonetheless been elevated to near-legendary status as one of the most powerful pieces of fiction ever made. It’s so emotionally devastating that its runtime may prove too much for some, but Anchored by committed, believable performances by Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley, shot beautifully Janusz Kamiński, and directed with real vision by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List will undoubtedly leave you in tears by the end. The three hours you’ll spend watching are nothing compared to the lifetime you’ll remember it for.
Ben-Hur (3hr 32min)
I’ve previously brought up my love of this film at length in an article so I’ll try to keep my stanning to a minimum here, but really – not many films encapsulate the meaning of the word epic quite as much as Ben-Hur. It may be big-budget Hollywood at its finest; the sheer scale and amount of work that went into creating everything pays off for the viewer, and then some. It’s big, it’s cheesy, it’s often thrilling, but most of all it’s grand. Small, intimate stories certainly have their place on the big screen, and are often more worthy of praise than their massive cousins, but seeing something larger-than-life is a special thing. Ben-Hur fills that space better than most and is so jam-packed with action and drama that three and a half hours feels like a stroll in the park.
Gone With The Wind (3hr 41min)
I struggled long and hard whether or not to put this film on the list, essentially recommending people watch it. ‘Problematic’ is the most appropriate word I could use to describe it. The perspective is from the wrong side of the American Civil War, the portrayals are distinctly of their time; it’s a film from 1939 and its shows. Cut yourself off from the context and what you have is a thoroughly enjoyable epic that revels in its melodrama and scope. It also has the distinction of featuring Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar. All in all, Gone With The Wind is a historic film in more ways than one, more akin to a great painting or monument than a film, and like any landmark, you owe it to yourself to see it at least once.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Edition (4hr 01min)
There are plenty of director cuts and extended editions out there, to varying degrees of appeal. After all, things are cut out of films for a reason – if they don’t advance the plot, develop characters, or build the world, then they’ve got to go. Sometimes perfectly good content has to go just because the runtime is becoming too bloated. That’s the case with The Lord of the Rings, a behemoth of a story that stands up as one of the best adaptations and the best trilogies ever made. The additional content that tips it over three hours (and Return of the King to four), is far from extraneous; it all fits seamlessly into the greater whole. The immense talent and hard work that went into making Middle-Earth as wonderful a world to immerse yourself into as it is makes an extended cut a blessing rather than a curse. I haven’t watched the theatrical cut since it first came out, and I haven’t looked back once.