Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Appeal of Movie Trailers

The movie trailer is something that has developed quite extensively over the past few years.  Up until a few years ago, trailers were typically accompanied by a dramatic, deep voice (frequently the same voice actor) announcing something along the lines of “One man…one city” with plenty of pauses for effect in between.  These have given way to much more appealing and diverse trailers, ranging from the happy to the terrifying to the wretchedly sad, and eliciting a great deal of emotion and excitement in just a few minutes.

Some of these trailers give away far too much of the movie’s plot, or feature the only comedic scenes in the movie, leading viewers to question how accurately they capture the film.   One might even feel deceived by a trailer that is particularly fantastic, only to find that the movie itself falls short of high expectations.  Snow White and the Huntsman is a perfect example of this:

This trailer promises an exciting, beautiful, epic retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, one in which Snow White dons battle-worn armor, the huntsman is more present and far more attractive, and the Evil Queen is an irresistible badass with needle nails and the power to suck years and beauty from young girls.  The magic mirror is a shimmering gold creature, and everything is dark and impressive and awesome.  One might almost ignore that Kristen Stewart is involved at all.  The trailer is a masterpiece in itself—it features scene after scene of astounding CGI and action-packed special effects, and even manages to feature the ever-popular BWAM-BWAM noise that has become essential to trailers since the release of Inception.

The fact that the actual movie is not so epic and awesome makes it all the more impressive that the trailer is so well loved.  With a rotten tomatoes rating of 49%, and overall negative reviews, it’s a wonder that none of the negative qualities of the film found their way into the trailer.

And therein lies the appeal of movie trailers.  Those brief glimpses of footage are spliced together in such a way that one can’t help but admire the production company that edits a two-hour flop into a two-minute hit.

Who could forget Heath Ledger’s Joker announcing “And here we…go” in The Dark Knight trailer, or three men waking up from a black-out night of drinking to discover a evidence of the debauchery and madness that occurred hours before in the promo for The Hangover?  The trailer for Iron Man introduces us not to the suit of armor dubbed “Iron Man,” but to the character of Tony Stark, and suggests the character development that precedes his emergence as a superhero.

In fact, as you can see, the trailer displays only mere seconds of the actual Iron Man suit, demonstrating the tone of a movie that focuses less on the invention and more on the inventor.  Personal favorites for me also include the trailers for Megamind, Limitless, and Sherlock Holmes.

In the end, I believe that the movie trailer is (generally) superior to the movie itself.  It engages audiences with the tone of the film while leaving most information to be revealed at the theater.  After all, given the choice between the reality of a bad outcome, or the promise of an excellent one, who wouldn’t choose the latter, in trailers and in life?

By Jacqueline Porte