Monday, April 14, 2008

Movie Trailers Suck Balls

Movie trailers are pretty much awful.

Here’s what a movie trailer should do:

1) Give the viewer a rough idea of what the movie’s about.

2) Show the viewer which actors are in the movie.

3) Show a few seconds of an effects-filled/high action scene if applicable.

This means the viewer should see the trailer and say to his friends “We should go see Generic Action Movie! It’s about this dude trying to save the world from a psychic dog, it’s got Jessica Alba in it and there’s a scene where she backflips over a speeding 18-wheeler wearing nothing but a thong! Awesome!”

Instead, most movie trailers do the following:

a) Focus on one aspect of the movie, which is usually only about 15 minutes of screen time.

b) Give away a major plot twist, making it pointless to see the movie.

c) Totally misrepresent what the actual movie is about.

Let’s start off with the movie ‘Jarhead’, which sums up ‘a’ perfectly. Now, to be fair, I loved this movie, but it was the exact opposite of what the trailer made me believe I was going to watch.

Jarhead was pretty ‘deep’. It was pretty much a study of the ‘boredom’ and being ‘cut off’ that comes with joining the military. It’s a story about how people react after being trained to kill, flown off to war, and then left sitting in the middle of a desert with nothing to do for a few years…while constantly worrying about what their girlfriends and wives are up to. We see the main character go from being a misfit who wants out of the marines, to falling in love with the idea of being a marine, becoming desperate to kill someone just to relieve the boredom, venturing close to madness… then eventually struggling to readapt to civilian life.

As the movie’s final quote says: “A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle.”

Now watch the trailer:

After watching that, did anyone go to this movie expecting anything other than a high-action war movie with a large dose of humor thrown in?

Basically, they skated completely around any of the ‘deep’ parts of the movie and every action scene was shown, almost in full, in this trailer. A touch of misrepresentation maybe?

This wasn’t an action movie, but the trailer made us believe it was.

Then we come to probably the worst trailer in the history of movies. This is the prime example of giving away the twist.

“Double Jeopardy”

The whole point of seeing this movie was for a rather clever twist. A guy gets killed and his wife goes to jail for his murder even though she didn’t do it. It’s set up as a standard thriller/mystery movie. We expect the wife to get out of jail, find the real killer and avenge her husband.

Instead, it turns out that her husband faked his own death and actually framed his wife for his murder. His wife wants to break out of jail and make him suffer, but one of her jail friends tells her (paraphrased) “Relax and do your time. You can’t be tried for the same offense twice. You’ve already been tried, convicted and served your sentence for your husband’s murder. When you get out you could gun him down in front of a hundred police officers, and there’s not a single thing they can do about it. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

Good twist, right? The writer’s obviously thought so…and that’s why they cast an unknown as the husband so people would believe he was gone for good when he was killed. It’s why the scenes after the husband’s return were filmed in absolute secrecy. It was “Luke, I am your father” all over again.

That, of course, didn’t stop the studio giving away the entire twist in the trailer.

Bear in mind this is the equivalent of a movie poster that says “The Sixth Sense : Bruce Willis was dead all along!” or “The Empire Strikes Back : Vader is Luke’s Father!”

Finally we come to total misrepresentation of what a movie is about.

Here’s the trailer to “Bridge to Terabithia”

Ok, what did you think? A movie similar to ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ maybe? Kids find secret portal and find themselves battling the bad-guys in a fantasy setting?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that. I certainly thought that, and that’s why I watched it when Sunny ordered it of On Demand.

Know what this movie is actually about?

Kid makes new friend. Friend takes kid to the woods where they pretend to go to the magical land of Terabithia. Kid and friend have pre-teen angst at school. They play more pretend games. Friend eventually dies in an unrelated accident. Kid cries. Movie ends.

Basically we have ‘My Girl’ with two or three ‘imagination’ sequences that are minutes long. Is that what you’d expect to see after watching its trailer?

So what we have here are three movies that are totally unrelated to their trailers.

Jarhead was pretty underhanded. They knew more people would go to see a ‘funny action movie’ than a ‘deep’ movie about loneliness and being cut off.

Double Jeopardy was a classic case of studio stupidity. “This movie is great because of the twist…but if people don’t know about the twist, they won’t want to see it as much! Put the twist in the trailer!” Of course, knowing the twist totally negates it…but they don’t think that far ahead.

Bridge to Terabithia was just freaking evil. It’s a total misrepresentation of what the movie actually is. In simplest terms the trailer literally tricks us into watching a movie. They might as well have shown the trailer to another movie and just replaced the title.


MC Etcher said...

There are usually several different trailers for each movie, and each one is designed to appeal to a different demographic.

1) For the ACTION fans: Iron Man kicking ass and blowing shit up, followed by crude joke.

2) For the ROMANCE fans: A series of quick will-they-won't-they moments between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.

3) For the SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS fans: Commentary on the world today and the capacity for each one of us to better understand our individual role, and the impact that each of us can make.

The one and only purpose of the trailer is to make every last one of us buy a ticket.

Paulius said...

Well obviously...trailers are nothing more than advertisments for the movie.

Still doesn't explain why they feel the need to completely spoil the movie in the trailer...or make their total misrepresentation of what the movie is about any less annoying