7 Very Long Movies That Didn’t Earn Their Epic Runtimes, Ranked by Length

Ora Sawyers

While most movies have runtimes that hover between 90 and 120 minutes, some stories just need more time. If a movie has a good reason for having an extended runtime, most viewers will be receptive to it. If this wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be so many 3+ hour movies that have been award winners acclaimed by critics and general audiences alike.

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But that doesn’t mean every long movie completely earns its runtime. The following movies run considerably longer than average, with all being arguably longer than needed. Some feel only a little too long, while others feel like they make their point and deliver all they can well before the film ultimately concludes. At the end of the day, a movie being overlong doesn’t automatically make it bad, but certain viewers may find their patience tested by some of the following films.

12 ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ (2019) – 142 minutes

Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Rise of Skywalker
Image via LucasFilm

While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn’t quite the longest Star Wars movie, it’s probably the one that does the least to convince its audience it’s deserving of such a runtime. A disappointing conclusion to both the Sequel Trilogy and the 9-film-long Skywalker Saga, Rise of Skywalker cynically revives the big bad Emperor Palpatine, throwing characters old and new into a tepid finale with large stakes, but little reason to care.

A galaxy-ending threat has rarely been this boring, and the 142-minute runtime feels taxing. To the credit of the filmmakers, it is edited as fast as humanly possible, cramming an obscene amount of plot into just under 2.5 hours. However, the editing is dizzying in the worst way possible, and even if the pacing is fast, the length of this movie asks too much from its viewers, rewarding them very little in the process.

11 ‘Triangle of Sadness’ (2022) – 147 minutes

Triangle of Sadness - 2022

The Palme d’Or winning Triangle of Sadness clocks in at just under 2.5 hours, and does mostly earn its runtime. Part of the reason for its length comes from the fact that it’s split into three distinct parts, each focusing on the same characters while feeling very different when it comes to tone and setting.

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The first two parts fare better than the third, which slows things down and feels a little repetitive. It turns the tables in an interesting way and continues to explore the themes of wealth inequality and classism present in the first two parts, but it just goes on a tad too long. It feels like 10-15 minutes could have been cut, in the process making it a more impactful film.

10 ‘Funny People’ (2009) – 152 minutes

adam sandler funny people feature

Funny People would be a very good dramedy, if only it were about 50 minutes shorter. It stars Adam Sandler as a comedian whose life is upturned by a cancer diagnosis, with him reevaluating what he’s done in life, what his values are, and who he spends his time with.

Sandler is good in the lead role, and the film’s mix of comedy and drama is handled fairly well. Still, it feels somewhat counterintuitive to spin such a grounded, personal story into a film that clocks in at over 2.5 hours, meaning even those who find Funny People enjoyable will find its length testing. It’s far from the worst movie to go for over 150 minutes, but its extended length does remain undeniably baffling.

9 ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (2013) – 161 minutes

Smaug glares at Bilbo Baggins
Image via Warner Bros. 

There are problems with The Hobbit trilogy beyond just its length, but most become apparent in its second film. There are some iffy digital de-aging effects, a love triangle that adds very little, and of course the drawn-out story. While three books made for three movies when it came to adapting The Lord of the Rings, with The Hobbit, one book is agonizingly stretched into three movies that add up to about eight hours in total.

The first movie does feature a decent chunk of story, and the final movie at least concludes things (while also being drawn out). However, middle chapter The Desolation of Smaug offers very little. While it’s one of the shorter live-action movies set in Middle Earth, not much of importance happens in its 161 minutes, making it feel like cinematic dead air for much of its runtime.

8 ‘Django Unchained’ (2012) – 165 minutes

Image via Columbia Pictures

For a fairly straightforward revenge movie like Django Unchained, 165 minutes is a long time. To Quentin Tarantino’s credit, he does fill most of the runtime with compelling characters, entertaining action scenes, and great visuals. The movie also has plenty of suspense that works so well because things are allowed to take their time, building tension to nearly unbearable levels.

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But at the same time, what feels like the film’s climax comes about 30 minutes before the actual ending. Things explode gloriously, but then the movie keeps on going for an artificially inflated time. By the time the actual climax comes around, it’s still good, but feels like a little bit of a letdown compared to what came before. If Django Unchained had come in at around 140 minutes, it might feel perfect… but at over 165 minutes, it does feel a little bloated toward the end.

7 ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ (2007) – 168 minutes

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Image via Disney

The conclusion to the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (that’s since grown to become a series), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ironically feels like a movie that refuses to end. It picks up shortly after the end of the second film, with Jack Sparrow missing and Captain Barbossa mysteriously back from the dead, and quickly spirals into an unwieldy movie with too many characters and moving parts.

Even for those familiar with the earlier movies, At World’s End is hard to follow, and is an overall unsatisfying finale. There are enjoyable moments here and there, and there are certainly impressive moments from a technical perspective. Still, it’s an oddly joyless and convoluted movie, with its nearly three-hour runtime only exacerbating such problems.

6 ‘It Chapter Two’ (2019) – 170 minutes

Bill Hader in IT Chapter Two

The first It from 2017 was a surprise horror hit. It adapted approximately half of the well-known Stephen King novel of the same name, which itself had a popular miniseries back in 1990, telling the story of a demon named Pennywise who terrorizes a group of kids, often while having the appearance of a clown.

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Its sequel came out two years later, and this time focused on the adult version of the kids introduced in the first. It Chapter Two was 35 minutes longer than its well-paced predecessor and felt quite bloated in the process. It didn’t help that many of the scares on offer in Chapter Two felt recycled from the first, making Chapter Two feel less engaging because viewers had seen these things before. Also, said things become less scary when the targets are adults, and not the comparatively more vulnerable kids of the first movie.

5 ‘Hard to be a God’ (2013) – 177 minutes

Hard to be a God - 2013

Hard to be a God is one of the most emotionally draining and harrowing movies of all time. It takes place on a planet similar to Earth, except the population there is essentially stuck in what’s their Middle Ages. Earth scientists living there initially seem to want to help the planet’s society progress, but eventually give in to temptation, and misuse their enlightenment and knowledge for selfish reasons.

It’s a fascinating concept, and visually it’s awe-inspiring, with stark black-and-white visuals and phenomenal production design. But beyond the intriguing premise, there’s not much by way of narrative or characters to get attached to. Add to that the graphic violence, repetitive scenes, and nearly three-hour length, Hard to be a God ends up being a challenging watch, even if it being an endurance test for the audience feels intentional.

4 ‘Casino’ (1995) – 179 minutes

Casino (1995)

Casino does admittedly use its three-hour runtime as a way to comment on greed and excess. Thematically, this commentary might not hit as hard if the film were shorter, and since the story revolves around the mob running much of Las Vegas throughout much of the 1970s, it makes sense.

At a point, though, it does become exhausting. There might only be so many quickly edited montages and explosions of graphic violence that most viewers can take, leading to the final hour of Casino feeling like at least two. Still, at least the length works for the film’s message, even if it doesn’t help the narrative nearly as much.

3 ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ (1956) – 182 minutes

Around the World in 80 Days

Audiences in 1956 were likely thrilled by Around the World in Eighty Days. It takes viewers to many different countries, feeling as much like a travelogue as a film, with its story about a man’s quest to complete a journey around the globe in 80 days or less (an impressive achievement back in the 1870s).

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Nowadays, the novelty of a movie taking place in numerous countries isn’t nearly as exciting. It makes the three-hour adventure challenging to get through in one sitting, and it doesn’t help that the story is a relatively simple one. Still, it does offer some entertainment value and fun for modern audiences… just not 182 minutes’ worth.

2 ‘Pearl Harbor’ (2001) – 183 minutes

Soldiers running away from an explosion in Pearl Harbor

Michael Bay is a director well-known for excess. His movies often have large budgets, huge action scenes, and fairly lengthy runtimes. All these things apply to his 2001 film, Pearl Harbor, which goes one step further by exceeding three hours in telling its story of two soldiers in a love triangle with a nurse, all against the backdrop of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an event which ended up pushing the U.S. into World War Two.

Things really feel longer than they need to be. Pearl Harbor seems keen to insist it’s an epic, sweeping, tragic story through its gargantuan length, but viewers are unlikely to care about the unconvincing romance (the spectacle of its combat scenes may fare a little better for some, though). It’s a film that ends up feeling bloated and longer than it needs to be.

1 ‘Exodus’ (1960) – 208 minutes

Exodus - 1960

Running for about three-and-a-half hours, Exodus is a film that’s clearly trying to play in the same ballpark as successful epics like Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia. It’s a historical drama that focuses on the creation of the state of Israel in the aftermath of World War Two, and a dangerous voyage undertaken by hundreds of Jewish refugees who are trying to get there.

It’s not the worst film in the world, but it is somewhat dry and so incredibly long that it’s even likely to test the patience of those who like old Hollywood epics. Paul Newman fans may stick it out until the end, but others might find themselves wishing the film’s story was a little more condensed and briskly paced.

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