Why is it that the world of cinema often treats its patrons like we’re utter fools? The crime they commit far too often at the moment, my fellow film lovers, is this : they give far, far too much away in the trailers that we all crave to enjoy. There are, as I see it, two major offences with which modern day trailers ruin our day:
For some unknown reason, various recent marketing campaigns for numerous films are so concerned that we won’t be turned on by a short introduction to their film that they show us nearly the whole flipping thing during the 2 minute trailer. Why? What other sort of advertisement of a product does this to us? If I fancy reading a book, the blurb on the back is a fairly decent hint to what the book is going to be about, but I’m not led by the hand through each and every rise and fall of the narrative before they flash a few of the closing chapters before my widening eyes. Here are a few recent contenders who’ve unfortunately given us the entire story in a nut shell.
So, the Black Swan trailer lets us know that Nina is a fresh new ballet dancer, unsure of if she’ll get the part. Oh, well, turns out she does. But she’s only really good at the White Swan part, and increasingly suspicious that others want her role. She gets it on with the main guy, and strange things happen with one of the other girls. The sweet girl has gone, her reflection is looking oddly menacing, and just in case you didn’t want to know what happened to her in the end, there she is dancing the Black Swan. It’s possible that the only scenes in Black Swan not to have been used in the trailer are those which were of a slower pace or those in the final few minutes of the climax. If you hadn’t seen the film, any recollection of the trailer you might have during your viewing would ruin any moment of potential expectation as your remember “Oh wait, but that’s still yet to happen.” Cheers Aronofsky. You tit.
Now this is one of the worst recent offenders for giving away plot developments. Without realising it, a quick watch of this trailer lets you know that Micky is both a street paver and fighter, who’s about to change his reputation of being a ‘stepping stone’ with an up coming big fight. But (SPOILER) he loses. Oh, and he got the girl. But someone’s giving him a fresh chance of making it – so long as he doesn’t work with his brother. Things aren’t good with the brother, who’s now in prison, and so he might have to take his chance at a title shot without his brother. BUT HOLD ON A COTTON PICKING SECOND, THAT’S HIS BROTHER IN HIS CORNER AT THE TITLE FIGHT!? The ONLY thing we don’t know about this film, is if he’s going to win or not. Might as well walk in for the last 10 minutes then. Jeeeeze…
Some films go too far though. If you thought that it was painful enough to be spoon fed a boiled down soup of plot developments, giving you foreknowledge of every twist and turn that lay ahead, then how pissed would you be if they ruined the ending for you as well? Oh really? That pissed? No, I don’t know where to buy fertiliser and bleach…
Now, much like Black Swan and The Fighter, True Grit wants us to know everything it’s about, from its A Level results to its Mum’s middle name. The Marshal Rooster Cogburn is a bit of a rough n’ ready, rootin’ tootin’ cowboy type chap – the perfect choice for the young Mattie Ross to employ to find the man who killed her father, Tom Chaney. But there’s a Texas Ranger in town by the name of LaBoeuf, who’s also after Chaney. Cue a road-trip cowboy-style, with pursuits, shootings and the eventual showdown with Chaney. Who kidnaps Mattie. And threatens to killer her. And then throws her down a well, before we shortly see Cogburn weeping over… wait… they wouldn’t show that would they? Cogburn weeping over Mattie’s BODY?! 2 minutes 12 seconds in. WTF!? So now he’s out for some payback, cowboy style. Waste. Of. Time.
Standard stuff here. In the far off future, a band of super cool priests have won the war against the demon/vampire types that prowled beyond the city walls. But then there’s a vampire attack in a rural area, and a Priest’s brother is killed, and the young Lucy has gone missing. Eek. For some reason the Church is choosing to ignore the presence of ‘Vamps’. Our Priest decides to go against his orders, and go in search of the vampires and Lucy beyond the walls of the city, so the Church send out more Priests to bring him back. But wait, the vampires have got a new army, AND it turns out they’ve been helped by a HUMAN all along. Boom. Fight to the death. Film finishes. Thanks trailer.
The Funny Bits
There’s one other classic mistake that trailers make, and it’s confined to those of the Comedy genre alone; the trailer that tells you all the funny bits. Not only do we get to see the entire plot spread out before us to judge – and chances are, most comedies aren’t hinged on a clever plot, so it’ll look shocking – but we also get the handful of the genuinely funny moments ruined for us, like the irritating guy in the pub who takes all our punch lines.
Now I’m really worried about Paul, namely because there seem to be four or so different trailers doing the rounds at the moment, spread across the internet, TV and cinemas. I want to like Paul. I want to laugh at its jokes, and enjoy its witty banter and slap stick humour, but I can’t do that if they go and show me all the funny-funnies too soon. Each trailer has different jokes and as such, we’ve probably seen a good 50% of the really funny stuff that Paul has to offer. I really hope I’m wrong. Oh, and the trailer gives away the fact that Paul’s spaceship does eventually turn up in the end. Brilliant.
The ones that succeed
Not all trailers make these mistakes. Here’s just a few – including the non-theatrical version of True Grit, which tell us all we need to know and not ruin a thing. Hollywood, do this more. Please. Thanks.