Of late, I’ve been trying to stay away from movie trailers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love movie trailers. The idea that you have to take an entire movie and edit it down to a minute, maybe two, to sell the concept or idea of the movie, to attract people to watch the movie itself… it’s a marvel of editing actually. If a movie editor has to take all the footage shot during making and assemble a cohesively attractive narration out of the numerous bits and pieces available, then a trailer editor would have to condense it even more.
Problem is, in this day and age of fast food, flashy stuff and limited attention span, not to mention the massively diverse media of everything screaming for attention (primarily music, videogames, television, etc. – sadly, not so much books) movie trailers tend to be a lot of flash and bang rather than the teasers they’re supposed to be. They’re supposed to tickle your fancy, tease you a little and make you want more… but what happens when what they give you in those little snippets are the major moments, the big reveals, the spoilers, or even (gasp) the ending of the whole damn movie. Is it, “Here’s everything you need to know, please come watch our movie anyway.”?
Two trailers in particular got my gruff of late, which made me decide to be oh-so-wary of the new trailers coming out. The first was the new trailer for GI Joe: Retaliation. Now, part of the plot is, of course, the bad guys (COBRA) are trying to take over the world. Part of that plan was in place by the end of the first movie, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The trailer goes on to show you their ultimate weapon – which is fine, because when you see it, you have to wonder how the heroes are going to take that out – but then, as one would expect with this kind of movie where the heroes should win and the bad guys taken down, the trailer shows us mostly how that happens!
Okay, so it’s a movie based on toys and comic books, with a plot so simple that everyone and their kids know what going to to happen, but should that be how a trailer promotes the movie?
The other trailer was the full extended trailer for Fast and Furious 6. Now this is a movie where the fun (if you want to call it that) is in the action set-pieces. Given the franchise, we know all sorts of vehicular madness will be abound, or as one character puts it in the trailer, “vehicular warfare.” Anyway, they present the plot – tough law enforcer seeks out a bunch of renegades for help to take down the major bad guy – which means that there will be fights, chases, and ‘vehicular warfare’ gong on. The original teaser showcased a tank! The full teaser gave us something so much bigger that it could very well be the final major set-piece in the entire film.
Now, I could be wrong. The original trailer for Fast Five (the previous film – they have very weird titles and numbering) sold the action in a way that it may have shown clips from the final set-piece, but the ended the trailer with a major stunt that was actually from the first set-piece. For all I know, the big stunt they showed in the new trailer could be for the opening, but pieced with several other clips within the 3-minute trailer, it’s not very likely.
And what it the proper length for a teaser or a trailer these days, anyway? How much control do the directors have on how much should be let out? JJ Abrams has been very careful in what gets out for the new Star Trek: Into Darkness teasers and trailers (Star Trek (2009) itself has one of the best teasers ever – that of the Enterprise being built). I haven’t seen the new trailers, don’t really want to. It’s almost equally hard to stay away from news of the movie itself what with people so over eager to share what they’ve seen or what they think they know. Especially since a special screening of the first half hour of Into Darkness was done, somewhere in the world (South America, I think).
Of course, trailers that give away the ending of their films have been around for a long time. Some may have been unintentional, one would suspect, although it’s most likely not.
But then there was that ‘research’ that said that people really don’t mind spoilers, particularly for books, although it’s really all apples and oranges.