Monday, 23 March 2009

Film Trailers - Analysis

What constitutes as a 'good' film trailer? I don't have the luxury of having a whole film from which to select the best clips, I have to make them for the trailer. This means I have to study the 'trailer' style in reverse. For me a trailer should clearly represent the films genre. If it is a mid-18th century classic film, you wouldn't expect to see the Biker Mice from Mars speeding through in a hail of gun-fire and explosions, would you? More chance of people going to see it, that's for sure.

If its an action movie it should be exciting, with a fast pace, explosions and not even a hint at a storyline. If it is a comic book movie, I want to see the characters I love and know in glorious movie visual type things. If it is a horror film, you want to see people running and screaming with bizarre camera angles, generally in a wood and with some crap plot and obvious killer. Overall, I think the plot isn't something that necessarily has to be the focus of the trailer. In fact, famous actors, fast cars and 'smokin' bitches' are generally what people go to the cinema for, sadly.

Anyway, to aid me in creating a trailer that is as exciting as it is stupid, I have decided to look at some trailers for up and coming films and analyse them. So join me as we take to pieces a few trailers from up and coming films:

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

I for one, really enjoyed the Transformers film. It was a good romp and even though I am a fan boy and certain things weren't right, it was still a good attempt as far as Hollywood goes.

The first thing that really strikes me about this trailer is how stoppy-starty it is. Black screens everywhere. They are great to use for a split second just before the action starts, then bring in the sound and action. But it never really happens. Instead it ends up being a mysterious series of clips with no real connection other than to people who saw the first film to ask: why are they back? The special effects are top-notch, can't knock them - but they don't make a great film. The music in the trailer isn't action packed and loud, it is subtle and hails back to the first half of the original film where they kept you waiting to see any sign of a transformer.

In fairness the trailer does kick off with a big explosion, but it never really amounts to anything other making you question what it was that hit the building. Was it a missle or a piece of asteroid or what? I suppose the graet thing about this trailer is the fact that it gets you intrigued and excited. If you enjoyed the first film, you will be looking forward to the second and if it gets people hypothesising over the plotline, then it means its gunna get viewers at the cinema.

Maybe it is too easy to forget that a trailer is supposed to advertise a new film, not shows bits of it. It is a piece of marketing, not a piece of entertainment in itself, which is where the trailer for my cartoon differs. My trailer is a piece of entertainment, spoofing modern Hollywood trailers and their audiences - perhaps it would be wise to just take away the visuals and feelings of a good trailer, rather than an indepth analysis that makes me focus on the wrong thing.


I think it takes a lot of stones to try and take on something within a fanbase as stuck up and snotty as Star Trek's. I should know, I am one of those stuck up snotty critics willing to point whatever I think is wrong, historically and cinematically with anything to do with what I consider to be one of the greatest franchises the world has ever seen.

I can really see what this new film is about. Bring Star Trek to a new generation of kids who think Star Trek is for geeks and dads and I am OK with that. If they get the characters right, I don't mind a bit of action and cheese. When I heard Scotty was been played by Simon Pegg, I did laugh out loud at the idea, but I am willing to give it a chance before I tear it to pieces - which I think puts me a few steps ahead of a few other fans who have already condemned it. The fact is that Star Trek is on its arse and it needs a pick-up. Abrahms has kept me interested with Lost and Cloverfield and I think he signs Bad Robot up to a lot of good stuff, so I remain optomistic at this point.

So the new trailer. Its got everything. Action, aliens, explosions, sex, a string soundtrack that doesn't go anywhere and just makes stabs to keep you interested and raise the tension and zero hint at any kind of concievable plot. I suppose if the plot is completely stupid at least it won't be too far away from TOS (The Original Series) because some of the plot lines, especially in season 2 are just epically ridiculous. What really catches your attention about this trailer is that it doesn't look like a Star Trek trailer, it looks more like an action flick at first. Then when you hear the kid say his name is James Tiberius Kirk you think: say what?

The pace of the trailer is fast and you find yourself trying to keep up, which keeps you interested and builds up excitment. Its full of action, people and ships zooming around and a shit-ton of explosions, which is interesting. If its as exciting as the Dominion War scenes in DS9 then im pretty sure im gunna enjoy it. There is also a kind of narration in this trailer, but it isn't direct. It is pieced together from dialogue in the film - this is an interesting idea and one that is commonly used. I have applied this to my trailer in a round about fashion, but not directly.

I think there are gunna be a lot of salutes to the series in the new film, but they're gunna have keep to the universe that Roddenberry wrote. There better be no Marquis zippin' around or other things that hadn't yet been discovered. I wouldn't mind seeing a few cameo roles though :) I shouldn't have chosen this one to analyse, I have too many opinions on it.

Terminator Salvation

Yes, its time for another Terminator film. Should I be excited? Probably not. Do I like Christian Bale the guy who seems to constantly stick is foot in it by nutting his sister or swearing at extras? Yeah, he's alright. Will this film be worth the ticket price at the cinema? Im guessing not. Personal problems aside, this trailer really does stick to the generic. Are they the same strings from the Star Trek trailer? I think so... Plenty of explosions and action and subtle hint at the plot, with plenty of reference to previous iterations of the movie (They actually say Judgement Day....is it to remind people that they did actually enjoy the Terminator series at one point?).

Here the lead character is the voice over for the trailer, like the trailer isn't a trailer but a documentary of something that actually happened. I like that idea, because you get a glimpse of the character before you see the film. It does remove an element of mystery and a lot of people who go to see action films just want the stunts and action, rather than to have to think about the plotlines. Perhaps this film is targetting the audience that I am infact trying to send-up. People who don't care what they watch as long as there is some tits and explosions in it.

The direction of this trailer does convey a lot of action, which is what you would expect from a Terminator flick, so credit to it there - but maybe its just me, but I already feel like I have seen this film before and that puts me off. At least the Transformers trailer adds a sense of mystery and intrigue and makes me want to see it. In this film I feel like I have been there and done that. Finally, my last gripe is the line 'This isn't the future my mother warned me about?' Sorry, did I spend hours of my friggin' life watching these films just so the next prick that gets a hold of the directors chair can go, "Actually, the future that the characters have worked to try and avoid does actually happen so all that stuff they did meant for shit". Stupid much!

Maybe the thing to take away from this trailer is not to make things too generic, otherwise you lose your audience immediately. This trailer really is cheese factor five thousand. It just seems completely over the top with absolutley not substance. If they want me to come and see a film with no substance, they need to work harder to hide the fact that is completely stupid. This is is exactly what my trailer is about, don't go and see this retarded crap....because you will find me in the corner eating popcorn and enjoying it and that will make me a hypocrit.

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Generally when I see the number 3 in movie titles two things cross my mind. Either its a cash cow for the company or its an old series brought back from the dead because the studio can't find anything that works. In the case of Ice Age however, neither is true. It is an original and fun idea with some great character writing and animation. Yes, the second film was nowhere near as good as the first, but it wasn't a bad movie at all. It had its moments.

This trailer continues the same theme as the others. It leads with Scrat looking for a nut. I think the thing people love about Ice Age trailers so much is that they are essentiall freebies. They are short films that generally don't relate to the plot at all. I also think they remind people of when they were kids and used to watch Tom & Jerry cartoons. They generally revolved around slapstick with heavy use of sound effects and no music. A great way to attract attention is to not play to what the audience expects. By removing the generic music from the 'action trailer' you create something different that has meaning and conviction. It also forces people to pay attention because they aren't used to what they are seeing and it isn't immediately recognisable.

This is something I need to take away from this trailer. By making your trailer individual and not doing what the audience expects you will get their attention. This doesn't apply so much to my trailer because it is a spoof, so the idea is that I delibrately do what the audience expects, but to such a degree that it becomes satirical. It is the most basic form of satire, one that everybody can appreciate.

This has been valuable time spent investigating these trailers. I have learned a lot in terms of layout, music use and sound effects. I have learned a few valuable lessons too. Cinemotography is an important part of a successful trailer, but more important is the fact that you remember, it is a marketing piece. It sells the final product. This feeling cannot be lost on my trailer, because it will make the spoof all that more convincing. If people actually believe it is a genuine trailer, then I have done my job right. It is about time people sat up and started paying attention to what they watch...because a lot of it is really, really crap. I should know, I watch all of it.

A lot.

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