The difference between a 120-minute movie and a 115-minute movie can be surprisingly huge. Pacing and editing are the most underrated parts of the filmmaking process, so it’s baffling when a movie spends a bunch of time on a scene that, in the end, doesn’t even matter.
Turns out there’s not really a good technical term for it, except “a bunch of bullshit they put in to pad the runtime or something.” But these are parts of movies that wasted a bunch of your time and you’ll never get it back. Enjoy!
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey – The Stargate
Look, I love 2001. It’s easily in the top 5 sci-fi films ever. But the star gate sequence or whatever the hell it is is just… ugh. It’s ten minutes of re-used footage from Doctor Strangelove with an acid trip filter placed over top. Yeah yeah, “Kubrick was a genius.” I know, I get it. Or, rather, I guess I don’t get it. There’s several sequences in the film that are just drawn out to demonstrate how vast and boring space is, as I assume a film student is yelling at his monitor right now.
But the star gate, come on. That’s just excessive, even for Big Daddy K. (That’s my nickname for him.) Maybe it was just so awesome back when the film came out that it was worth watching for ten minutes.
4. The Matrix Reloaded – Zion Rave
Here’s a scene that was never awesome, even when the film came out. The Matrix Reloaded, which was barely more than an hour and a half of padding with about 45 minutes of plot, features a headache-inducing five minute rave sequence filled with characters we never see again interspersed with footage of Trinity and Neo gettin’ it on.
It’s like a shitty music video stuffed into the middle of a movie that was already having difficulty keeping the audience’s attention. I highly doubt that, at any point, anyone working on this movie watched this sequence and said, “Man, this is such a great scene. Why don’t we just make the whole movie this?”
3. Spider-Man 3 – The Emo Dance
No one liked emo Spider-Man in Spider-Man 3. I’d wager that not even Spider-Man liked emo Spider-Man. It was dumb and corny (even by Sam Raimi standards) and that haircut looked terrible on Tobey Maguire. But this movie actually proved something that I’ve suspected for a long time: piling one enormous mound of dung (the emo Spidey dance scene) on top of another enormous mound of dung (the rest of the film) does not just create one tremendous pile of poop, but actually results in a multi-layered and disgusting lump of awfulness. You can pick it apart, not that you’d want to, and see just where each piece of poop adds up in the mountainous turd.
But it’s still a mountainous turd. Don’t miss that part.
2. All Kinds of Movies – The Random Musical Number
A lot of time-wasting scenes fall under one big umbrella: the unnecessary musical sequence, often in movies that aren’t even musicals. It happens often enough in children’s fare, but when it invades adult movies (not those kind of adult movies, although that would be quite strange) the pointless musical sequence is often uncomfortable and bewildering to audiences.
Billy Madison has one (the part where Billy’s in the fountain and decides to go back to school) and Return of the Jedi’s special edition has a really bizarre one in Jabba’s palace (see above, and don’t worry, it was in the original, too). But for a truly weird and out of place musical number, let us not forget Armageddon. You probably forced it out of your mind after you watched it the first time, but there is totally a random song in there.
As the minestronauts are finally getting ready to go into space, reveling in the intensity of the mission and damn it I hate the plot of this movie, Ben Affleck starts (terribly) singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to Liv Tyler. He is then quickly joined by Michael Clarke Duncan and Steve Buscemi. Yeah, the government squares use it as a moment to decry the idiots they’re sending on this mission (which they’ve been doing the entire film at this point), but it’s still just ridiculous and weird.
1. Star Wars: Episode I – Podracing
Like Episode I didn’t have enough things to pick on, I know. And the podracing scene did actually fit into the plot. Anakin needed to win so they could fix the ship or whatever. Fine. It’s fine. But look, do we really need ten minutes of podracing? I suggest that we do not. Yeah, Uncle George had podracing video games to sell, but that scene could have been half as long and still gotten its point across. It could have been a quarter as long and been just fine.
But realistically, it could have been circumvented entirely by just not having the entire plot hinge on something so freaking dumb.