December 5th 2015
The three upcoming films that I'm most looking forward to are, in order, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Captain America: Civil War, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. My blog post today, though, is not going to be about how great it is when films have colons in the title (although, as a side-note, I do find it amusing when a non-sequel puts a colon in the title in the clear hope that it'll be able to get a franchise out of it. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World springs to mind, a fairly uninspired film that was never followed up, but was still somehow nominated for 10 Oscars). Instead, this blog post is about trailers, and in particular my decision not to watch them any more; at least, not for those three films, or for any future blockbusters that I'm particularly excited about. Some of the thoughts here are stolen from The Weekly Planet, a brilliant and hilarious podcast, predominantly about comic book movies, which I started listening to a few months ago. Go check 'em out if you're into that kind of thing. Anyways, the problem with trailers these days is that they give away far too much. Well, actually, that's not true at first: most big films will first launch a 'teaser' trailer, which is shorter than a standard trailer and exists to give a basic concept of what the film is about, hoping to increase - or kick-start - the audience's anticipation. For example, Civil War's teaser was made public a week or two ago and, while it is longer than some teasers (the original teaser for the Cinderella film was just a panning shot of a glass slipper), all it does is give you an outline of the main characters, the premise, and snippets from a few of the more exciting action scenes. Here it is:
To my mind, that's really all a trailer should do. It doesn't give away any plot twists and it doesn't show prolonged scenes from the film, but it does whet your appetite for more (if you're into this kind of thing, that is). Similarly, the first couple of trailers for The Force Awakens have made millions of people feverish with anticipation - no mean feat, given how disappointed everyone was with the Star Wars prequels - but have revealed almost nothing about the plot, except who the main characters are and that there's going to be some sweet light sabre action. The only way that these trailers could ruin anything about the films would be if you analyse them frame-by-frame to spot any clues... which, in fact, brings me back to The Weekly Planet. One of the co-hosts of that podcast also makes YouTube videos, including trailer breakdowns, and for both The Force Awakens and Civil War he's extrapolated possible plotlines and major incidents from what we see in the trailers. I know this because I've seen his other videos; I have studiously (well, actually, it didn't take a lot of study) avoided his videos for those films, as I really don't want to know what happens until I see it happen. The tipping point for me was Avengers: Age of Ultron, which came out in the summer. That was another film I was excited about, and I had eagerly watched every new trailer or extended clip. Ah yes, because that's the other thing that studios do now: they post whole scenes online before the film is released, and there were two in particular for Age of Ultron that I really liked (one scene between Black Widow and Hulk, and one where everyone is trying to lift Thor's hammer). The problem was that they were a couple of the best scenes in the movie, and, having seen them online a couple of times, they lost some of their impact for me when I saw them at the cinema. The worst offender, apparently - again, this is according to the guys on the Weekly Planet - was the Amazing Spider-Man 2; if you watched all the trailers, clips etc. that they'd posted online before the release date, you'd already have seen an astonishing 45 minutes of the finished film. That's crazy. Another film in 2015 where the trailer showed far too much was Terminator: Genisys, another colon movie, and one that was much better than the savage reviews it got in some places, (particularly Empire magazine, which usually knows better). The first trailer or two were fine, but then the final trailer was released and it centred around a big twist - I won't spoil it here - which turned out to be pretty much the only twist in the movie. I was at a loss to understand who would be stupid enough to reveal that in a trailer, but yet again the good folk at the Weekly Planet (last time I mention them today, I promise) had the answer: it was because that twist was the only place they could show their most impressive special effect, and they wanted to make sure that they had that in the trailer in order to reel people in. Well, in the words of Ross Geller, "if you wanna call that a reason...".
The Batman v Superman trailer came out last week, and was the first real test of my resolve. I'd watched the teaser trailer many months ago and been fairly impressed - despite the fact that the franchise is not in safe hands under Zack Snyder, in my view, after he gave us the disappointing Man of Steel - but I'd decided to give the full trailer a miss in case it had too many spoilers. From what I've read, it does indeed give away most of the movie's plot. So... my resolution is in place. For the next few months I will be avoiding the Batman v Superman trailer; for a few months longer I will be avoiding Civil War trailers. For the next couple of weeks I will be avoiding the final Force Awakens trailer. This could be my new thing. Detrailered.
what was I listening to?
The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen