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[Article] – Modern Day Movie Trailers: 5 Pet Peeves

 

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Posted June 7, 2017 by

 
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Have you ever found yourself enjoying a trailer, only for the bubble to be burst by a scene completely out of sync?

Film trailers are an integral marketing tool for the industry. They were, at one time, as highly anticipated as the films themselves. Many of us will remember heading into theatres in the hope of catching a film trailer we had heard about, or even caught once before. It helped (or didn’t, depending on your point of view) that trailers preceded their film releases by almost an entire year, and were one of a kind – in most cases, there were only one per film. Nowadays, film trailers are but one part of a giant marketing machine that believes in quantity over quality.

As a life-long fan of trailers, I have noticed a few problems sneaking into even the best-made ones. Here, I present 5 pet peeves I have with today’s trailers – do you agree?

Poor Editing:

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed trailers nowadays have some choppy editing. Be it dialogues cut short, or poorly synced chatter, even the starriest trailers seem to have their issues. But that’s nothing compared to the fact that most trailers don’t actually tell us anything these days. It’s no wonder most promotion campaigns are tied into lengthy synopses, cast and crew interviews, and mile-long analyses. Without them, we wouldn’t be interested in watching half these films, because they simply make no sense!

It feels like some film trailers hope the actors on screen will tide them through. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. I’ve been following the television adaptation of Fargo for a while, but the latest season has a rather confusing trailer. Aside from promoting Ewan McGregor’s dual role, I’m not sure what to make of the rest of it. But it’s Fargo and I probably shouldn’t be complaining.

Inception seems to have been released a million years ago, but the one and only trailer I saw of it was enough to peak my interest – it got the crux of the story across by placing its tagline front and centre. Also, and this is clearly missing in most promotional materials these days – the beats and pacing are on point. The visuals are in sync with the music, building up the anticipation and emotion.

For some extraordinary trailer editing, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the one to watch. Regardless of David Fincher’s sometimes problematic direction, there’s no faulting the top-notch trailer produced for the film.

Missing in Action:

…and by this I mean scenes in trailers that never make it to the finished product. Honestly, this shouldn’t happen at all, because all that money spent on filming and post-production has gone completely to waste. But we see this way too often, most recently in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Turns out, despite a great script, final filming revealed the third act was beginning to lag. The re-shoots and missing scenes are now the stuff of modern film legend, but it led to several viewers being utterly perplexed. Head over to io9 for a breakdown of almost everything that was eventually cut from the final version.

Those of us careful enough to avoid the trailers didn’t feel the impact, but these changes creep into many films – most to a lesser extent, however.

One of the strangest culprits in this category is Real Steel – that Hugh Jackman movie with boxing robots… that no one watched. There’s a bit in the trailer where Evangeline Lilly describes his character Charlie’s career – his last match was a defeat by the number 2 champion of the world! Watch the trailer and let us know if that’s what it says 😉

Often, trailer scenes are edited for additional comedic effect, or for some thrilling action – but the finished version disappoints because it feels overlong. In the Deadpool trailer, when Wade reveals his new look, the condensed scene is hilarious, but film version appears to be trying too hard, despite being the original material.

Despite their best efforts, film producers still end up throwing plenty of captured footage away – which may be par for the course, but if it impedes customer satisfaction, perhaps studios need to re-think their tactics.

There’s Too Many of Them:

Remember how I talked about trailers being tantalising forerunners to films. Nowadays, the sheer volume hitting our screens (all sizes) has made me dread them. If I am looking forward to a film (usually franchises), then I do not need a million trailers leeking every iota of plot, character development and action. That’s why I go to watch the film!

This is a particular annoyance for me, as it takes an extraordinary effort to avoid these promos, TV spots, extended trailers, cast interviews, etc. in the run-up to watching the film. One has to wonder, if it’s Star Wars or Marvel, why bother with so many promos – people will turn up despite it all. Consider how most of us were lining up for The Dark Knight Rises tickets on the basis of it’s seconds’ long teaser trailer – these franchises could bask in the same glory, and not risk the extra energy and cost.

Unsurprisingly, indie flicks and even Oscar-baiters are content with only one or two trailers. Granted, they’re working off budgets the quarter the size of blockbusters, and hence have a lot less at ‘stake’, but logic dictates they should need more promotion material – But they don’t. Each new extended blockbuster trailer includes extra action scenes and witty character development, leaving virtually nothing exciting or new for the viewer. It’s no wonder there are several fans who emerge from screenings underwhelmed – all that was left for them to discover was boring scenes of inconsequential conversation.

The “Stripper” Scene:

I cannot be the only one who’s faced this on a number of occasions. I’m watching a random trailer; it’s hilarious and I’m about to add it to my watchlist when bang – there’s a scene from a female strip club thrown in. So much for updating my watchlist.

This kind of scene encompasses other throwaway NSFW scenes often found in trailers, including random women appearing in a highly sexualised fashion, the heretofore no-nonsense female protagonist suddenly appearing in a highly sexualised fashion, male gaze-y shots of women’s bodies, but not of the women themselves. You get the picture.

I probably wouldn’t have such a problem with any of these, if a) the film had realistic representations of people in the exotic entertainment industry (read: not everyone is white and a size zero), b) included women protagonists as diverse as those living in the real world, and not for the purpose of objectifying them, c) levelled the playing field by including just as many scenes in as many films featuring equally attractive men, d) diversified the genders and sexualities of the casts, in general and also of these characters, e) displayed a high level of respect for these people, instead of just including them in the film for the 18-35 straight, male demographic that Hollywood still considers to be its biggest audience, and believe can be bought by these gimmicks.

The Fast and Furious franchise is this category’s greatest sinners; but it’s the one-off films – mostly comedies – that tend to ruin a good trailer (and eventually film) with derogatory nonsense like this.

Spoilers:

There are spoilers everywhere – films premiere for critics and reviewers well before they hit public screens, and since the internet is full of critics, you’ll do well to avoid any sensational headlines by the time you get your tickets. Who am I kidding? I have already read five conflicting headlines on the new Wonder Woman film, and that’s just the start.

Spoilers in trailers and general film promotion come in many forms – the first live-action appearance of fan favourite characters, the revelation of the villain, celebrity cameos (counterproductive in itself), cool/legendary dialogue, plotlines. Remember the trailer from Room, starring a pre-Captain Marvel Brie Larson? Maybe not – but I do, and I can’t believe the creators allowed it to get away with a giant spoiler from the book.

It’s sometimes hard to put your finger on what is a spoiler – when it’s shown out of context in a trailer it may not have much relevance – but when the trailer actually alludes to it, then most of the attention goes into wondering if you’ve guessed the various characters, and motivation/recreation of iconic moments, lines and scenes etc correctly.

I have gone into so many films with little to no knowledge of the trailers, and the experience has mostly been better for it. Not Avengers: Age of Ultron though, I wish I’d seen the trailers with the stupid romance in it, I could have avoided wasting my money on it.

I still love watching trailers, but they’ve ceased to be the art form they were. I think Hollywood studios would do well to reign things in, and return to teasing audiences with trailers that tell a story, and only hint at the spectrum of excitement that’s awaiting the viewer. Most importantly, however, the studios need to know what they’re doing right at the start, and not rush to create slap-dash promos in an effort to prolong fan-excitement.

Have Your Say:

Vote for which you think is the biggest irritation – or perhaps you have one of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
@EnsignLestat58
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