Much has been made of the film's running time (2 hours and 40 minutes), the special effects (ranging from unnoticeably excellent to disturbingly weird) and the Oscar nominations (a staggering 13) but I think the most curious thing about Benjamin Button is that it's so detached and dragged out it's hard to care about the main character, whether he's a grumpy old baby or not.
In case you're unaware of the story, the short version is that Benjamin Button lives backward – born an old man and destined to die a child, scattering a star-crossed romance across the better part of a century. Some have compared to "like Forrest Gump, without the cheesy history parts." I guess that fits, but in place of the cheesy history, we're left with lingering glances and soulful shadows that make the movie feel exceedingly well-intentioned, but comparably dull as well.
As a wrinkly babyman, the "young" Benjamin Button looks sort of like Gollum and talks sort of like Sling Blade. To be fair, it's a testament to the effects work that you do, by and large, buy him as a living human. And the work taking Cate Blanchett thru several eras is remarkably well done. That said, as characters like Button's father age, they end up looking like a leftover from an abandoned Dick Tracy sequel.
So while not perfect, it's not the special effects that tank it. Longish running time? Not really. My favorite movie is over 12 hours long. A billion people didn't have a problem with watching a boat sink for 3 hours. But this movie's pacing is so... reserved, so... drawn... out... that it's like watching a glacier melt. Or refreeze, I guess. I dunno.
What I do know is that for a love story that's supposed to span the space-time continuum and defy destiny, I've gotten more passion out of the average Gossip Girl episode, and that's a problem. It's as if so much effort went into assembling the production that they forgot to include emotion. And for this the Academy passed on the Dark Knight? Talk about a hero Gotham doesn't deserve. Pass.