NOTE: THIS REVIEW APPLIES TO THE CRITERION COLLECTION DVD OF THINGS TO COME, ISSUED IN JUNE OF 2013.
Let me start by saying that I made a small contribution to part of this release, in the form of an account of the music from the film -- but I had no role in any other aspect of the release, and have no participation in the sales or other activities surrounding the Criterion Collection DVD (or ANY other DVD edition) of this movie, nor did I have anything to do with the elements of the release about which I'm about to comment.
That said, I can safely say that the picture and sound quality of the movie itself as presented on this DVD (the FIRST authorized video release of the movie, at least on this side of the Atlantic, incidentally, and taken from the BFI's restored edition) are both stunning -- I'm old enough, and was lucky enough to have seen THINGS TO COME long before the wave of degraded, faded, worn out, and chopped up editions of the movie began filling the airwaves in the 1980s, at a time when there were still authorized 35mm prints of the movie around; and this release is a match for those 35mm sources and THEN some, for sheer quality in the detail, contrast, and richness, of the picture and the sound. It's the best the picture has looked and sounded in my experience since I first saw it in 1969, and it's better than that presentation (which was on a proper, network owned-and-operated TV station, incidentally -- on Christmas Day, no less, maybe because of the film's opening sequence?), as well.
As to the running time, it's 97 minutes -- that IS the running time of the movie, period. THINGS TO COME was previewed at 117 minutes (and perhaps even a longer version at one point), and subsequently cut down several times before its actual general release at 97 minutes, and was later cut to 92 and then 89 minutes; but 97 minutes is what there is of the movie. Unlike, say, Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS (1927), which was actually released in Germany (albeit briefly) at its full, 153 minute running time before being cut -- and which had full-length prints sent to distributors in various markets on different continents -- THINGS TO COME only ever went out at 97 minutes into general release, so there aren't any "loose" or unaccounted for long prints of it to be found around the world (as, fortunately, there were with METROPOLIS). There do exist stills representing scenes and characters that were cut from the film before release, and an "alternate cut" of the movie, incorporating those stills and other visual elements to fill out the "lost" sections in tandem with surviving script portions representing the deleted scenes, has been done for release in the UK; but there is no actual 117 minute, or 107-minute, or 100-whatever minute version of the movie, or whatever the frequently-cited figure is for an "extended" cut of the movie, to be seen intact as a finished, complete film. (That's anymore than there will ever -- EVER -- be an official "extended" cut of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, incorporating the scenes [was it 16 minutes' worth?] that Stanley Kubrick edited out after the previews but before the actual opening of the movie, in the basement of the MGM building on Sixth Avenue in New York. Reviews of the film from the opening even cited the still-visible splices at that point; and that removed footage is gone forever). And anyone who wants to rectify that situation on THINGS TO COME would have to take a page out of one of Mr. Wells's other playbooks, and perfect a time machine, journey back to London in 1936, and persuade Alexander Korda to save the deleted portions of the movie (good luck with that . . . . though if one could do such a thing for this sort of purpose, I'd sooner do it for the lost reels of Erich Von Stroheim's GREED and Orson Welles's THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, ahead of THINGS TO COME . . . . )
I'll also add, equally important to anything else about this release is David Kalat's audio commentary for the movie on the Criterion DVD -- it is a wonder: Charming, witty, informative, and entertaining, and this comment comes from someone who has done about 30 audio commentaries in his time.
As to the movie itself, it's even more fascinating than it looks and sounds, if that's possible to say (how can a movie be more fascinating than it looks or sounds? read on . . . .) -- a ground-breaking social/science-fiction film of its time, purporting to deal with the next 100 years of human history starting with the Second World War (the start of which it only gets wrong by about 15 months) and its aftermath. THINGS TO COME is, in many ways, akin to Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, a later monumental look into the future, and the relationships of humankind to technology, and technology to power (questions also raised by Lang's METROPOLIS, which Wells thought a very silly movie). And THINGS TO COME shares many characteristics with Kubrick's movie, including a coldness that repelled a lot of audience members in 1936, and characters who are mostly more symbolic figures than dramatic creations). And the whole thing was initally conceived by H. G. Wells as a near-operatic creation, with the music giving the work its structure, shape, and texture (and the music still mostly does, even though it wasn't shot that way except for the building-of-the-new-world sequences in the last third of the movie).
In other words, yes, it's all well worth buying.