LONGEST SCI-FI FLICKS . . . EVER!
Get out the popcorn,
Coke and comfortable cushions and get ready for a loooong sit.
170 mins [* *]
Looks like it's official: Kevin Costner's The Postman is the longest sci-fi movie
ever! Not even the Special Edition versions of other movies come close!
However, considering the long running time and the quality of the end product one can
probably read David Brin's post-apocalyptic novel of the same name (on which the movie is
supposedly based) in the same time it takes to view the movie. Probably also the
preferred option . . .
Solaris - 165 mins [* * * ½]
Never one to rush things, famed director Andrei Tarkovsky was probably the last person who
would ever have supplied us with a short snappy 90 minutes action type movie. But those
with extreme patience would ultimately be rewarded by this definitive art house film with
subtitles often described as the Russian version of 2001: A Space Odyssey . . .
just make sure you don't see it at some obscure university film society (their seats
usually resemble torture devices designed by Joseph Mengele) . . .
Abyss (Special Edition) - 164 mins
If you think that it's only European directors and Kevin Costner who makes very long
movies - then think again!
"Mainstream" Hollywood director James Cameron is well-known for his lengthy
movies, not to mention his even lengthier so-called "special edition" versions
of his movies usually released afterwards on video and laser disc. This particular version
of The Abyss clocks in at a whopping 164 minutes as compared to
the theatrical version which ran for an already longer than usual 140 minutes.
James Cameron? His latest movie was the three-hour long Titanic hit. Already
plans are in the bag for an even longer version of the movie that may or may not be
released on the big screen later this year . . . See I told you!
However, Cameron keeps The Abyss (Special Edition) filled with enough action
and incident that you won't probably realize how long it really is. That is, of you have
some comfy cushions . . .
Until the End of the World - 158 mins
Sheesh . . . these Europeans I tell you!
The chances are that German director Wim Wenders would probably be better remembered
for superior efforts such as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire (recently
remade by the yanks as City of Angels with Nicholas Cage/Meg Ryan - heresy!).
While this apocalyptic flick starts off promisingly enough it soon degenerates into a
meandering and aimless affair . . . or maybe that was just the wooden chairs I was
sitting on talking.
(Title sounds familiar? U2 wrote a song of the same name also used in the movie
and included on the excellent rock soundtrack which also includes the likes of REM,
Depeche Mode and Nick Cave. Check it out if it sounds like your cup of tea . . .)
Aliens (Special Edition) - 154 mins
To be truthful some of the scenes included in this director's cut should have stayed on
the cutting room floor where it belongs! But whether you watch this version or the original cinematic cut (which clocked in at 137 minutes) it remains
a rollercoaster ride - your bum won't be hurting but the forearms of your partner will be
The Sacrifice (Offret) - 149 mins
If you're type of intellectual snob who believes that movies aren't a valid art form then
you probably haven't seen this film yet. Again, directed by Tarkovsky this was his last
film he made before his death.
Adjectives fail one - but if you're the type who thinks that an excellent evening in
front of the VCR means renting the latest Jean Claude Van Damme video fodder then you're
advised to stay clear. If you're the type who realises that explosions doesn't necessarily
make a movie then check it out now - I sat through it more than once and would do so today
again if I can find a copy of it on video somewhere . . .
But beware - as one wag put it: Tarkovsky filmed this movie in Sweden
probably because he had
depleted the celluloid stocks in Russia!
Strange Days - 145 mins
Maybe it's contagious: this set at the end of the millennium action flick was directed by
James Cameron's ex-ex-wife Kathryn (Point Break) Bigelow!
Anyway, a version that was six minutes shorter was shown outside the States but that
didn't get rid of the film's unlikely Sleepless In Seattle type happy
ending. Still worth slugging through though . . .
(For other sci-fi flicks spoiled to a degree by improbable happy endings check out The
Abyss and Enemy Mine.)
Independence Day - 145 mins
You can fit the plot on a match box with space to spare, so cue some lovingly extended
scenes in which special effects people made enormous UFOs hover over major cities in the
world like they saw them do in the V television series . . .
- 143 mins
You didn't need such a super posterior to sit through the three sequels, but then again
who would really have wanted to with the exception of Superman II?
Brazil - 142 mins
There is a myriad of versions of this brilliant Terry (12 Monkeys)
Gilliam epic but while the happy-ending US version albeit shorter isn't the one to check
out . . .
Dune - 140 mins
Apparently there's an six-hour version of this movie doing the rounds. This would make
sense why few people actually understood what was going on in the much shorter original
big screen version . . . If you had read the novel then you'd know that this movie is a
mere Reader's Digest synopsis of the huge Frank Herbert sci-fi epic (and later a series).
A Space Odyssey - 139 mins
When it premièred it came in at 156 minutes, but the general release version was trimmed
by 17 minutes. But it doesn't really matter because the film could have done with some
more editing because at the end of the movie you'll be either amazed with director Stanley
(A Clockwork Orange) Kubrick's space epic or fast asleep . . .
- 136 mins
Unavailable on video in some countries (like the U.K. and here in South Africa) at the
insistence of either censors or director Stanley (Dr
Strangelove) Kubrick himself (who were perturbed by reports of copycat crimes
committed in the UK and the criticism that followed) this has probably to be one of the
most bootlegged or smuggled through customs movies of all times . . . If you haven't
seen this ultraviolent psychedelic 'Seventies trip yourself then breaking the law is a
small price to pay . . .
2 - 136
Sigh . . . what's the story here? Cameron strikes again. The director's cut clocks in at a
150 minutes. (The first - and superior - Terminator movie clocked
in at 108 minutes . . . doesn't that tell you something?)
Encounters of the Third Kind - 135 mins
Peculiar: Close Encounters - Special Edition is actually
shorter at 132 minutes! Take heed, mister Cameron . . .
But if you haven't seen what must be one of the best and most profound science fiction
movies ever seen, it doesn't even matter if you end up seeing the network version shown on
television which includes all existing footage!
Waterworld - 134 mins
See? Kevin Costner is no stranger to long running times, but even this hugely expensive
and dreary Mad Max on water affair isn't a patch on some of his
other epics: Dances With Wolves (180 mins), Wyatt Earp (181
mins) and JFK (189 mins)!
- 134 mins
The running time may state it's only somewhat over two hours long but this black-and-white
waiting for the end of the world in Australia pic feels much, much longer. (Think Waiting
for Godot - except a lot more happens in the Samuel Beckett play!)
Trek: The Motion Picture - 132 mins
Often dubbed the Slow Motion Picture. There's an even longer version available on video
but despite the often lethargic pace it remains one of the better Star Trek
movies in the franchise.
Of course, all the
above movies have seen the light of a cinema projector in one form or the other. But
for the longest epics one should check out what's also available on video:
Originally broadcast as a short television mini-series, it would perhaps be wise to spread
out this David Lynch-like cyberpunk thriller over several evenings instead of just one
sitting. Video releases like this assumes that the luxury you enjoy in your own home is
superior to that of a multiplex cinema . . .
V - 205 mins
Broadcast in-between coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games this television series held
audiences in the States captive - even if they were just waiting for the bloody games to
start! If you can't remember it , then you can see where Independence Day stole a
lot of its ideas from. Besides, with its cardboard characters and sets, it's a lot more
fun than said epic . . .