There have been a lot of horrors this week, so perhaps you missed news that was really more like a crippling migraine: On Wednesday, word spread around social media that “Transformers: The Last Knight” — Michael Bay’s fifth robots-go-smash-a-thon, due June 21 — was over three hours long. Well, it turns out this was a rare case of actual fake news: Bay himself took to Twitter, shooting this rumor down, adding that it’s “shorter than the last 3 movies by a lot.” (Note: There have been four other “Transformers” movies. When a franchise is even a blur to its maker, you know it’s good.)
Still, it’s understandable people — particularly terrified film critics, who generally dread seeing these films the way most people fear a looming root canal — would buy this as real news. The “Transformers” entries rank amongst movies’ longest, even factoring in a franchise based on a Disneyland ride. (At least that one got its last two episodes down to a “reasonable” two-hours-and-change.)
We always use “Goodfellas” as the bar with which to judge movie length; it’s a jam-packed, dense, consistently enthralling epic with too many great scenes to count. And it clocks in at 145 minutes. Meanwhile, the first “Transformers” — a big, dumb, loud, incoherent shambles about space bots that turn into cars — clocks in two minutes shorter than that. Its sequel, “Revenge of the Fallen,” is a mere one minute longer. After that, the series lights off into the stratosphere: The third, “Dark of the Moon,” ballooned to 154 minutes. The most recent installment, “Age of Extinction,” is a whopping 165. If you factor in pre-film commercials and previews, that was at least three hours trapped in a theater, trying to withstand Bay’s amphetamine-freak editing without having a panic attack.
So how long will “The Last Knight” be? We’d guess still too long. Bay’s shortest film is his first, the original “Bad Boys,” which runs 119 minutes and was made when he was just yet another music video director who’d graduated to Hollywood. When he made a sequel, it ran nearly a half hour longer. Even his “low-budget” lark, 2013’s black comedy “Pain & Gain,” lasted 129 butt-numbing minutes. Whatever the case, wouldn’t you rather just watch “Goodfellas” again? Life is short.