Tuesday, November 23, 2010

happy thanksgiving--here's a side of trailers...

happy holidays!

i'm sorry for not posting in a while. the past couple of weeks i've been busy with my own trailers, and i haven't had a chance to comment on all the new ones that have popped up. so i'm going to get the ball rolling on the best (and worst) of the latest previews, but i'd love to hear from you in the comments section about the new trailers you love/hate.

the first one i need to mention is the spot for Black Swan, which is awesome. (of course, it doesn't hurt that the editor had amazing visuals and performances to work with.)

for the first minute of the piece, we get the story--right until the teacher says to Natalie's character, "The only person standing in your way is you." after that, it's all sound design, music, little dialogue and terrifying picture. also, the feathered texture for the graphics is great.

the music is understated but sinister, and constantly building. what's great about that is it never turns into that cliche "thriller film" beat with heavy percussion and a progressively building tempo. instead, the music remains subtle, all the while growing darker. and the contrast between the final soft cue and the desperate scenes unfolding on the screen is haunting.

...and just when you think it's over, there's that horrifying little button! (a "button" is what we call a final scene/joke/moment that comes up after the title.)

another cool trailer is the one for Cowboys and Aliens. i'll admit that even before watching it, i'd already assumed it'd be predictable--crazy music, insane visual effects, the usual "action hero" lines delivered Jack Bauer-style, and out. but instead, it's refreshingly cool. the spot has minimal dialogue, the pacing is really nuanced, and the soundtrack is composed of sleek sound design rather than a song. some lines even play entirely in the clear--which is risky, but they pull it off really well. this is a great trailer, especially for an action flick. it manages to stand out in a genre riddled with seemingly identical marketing materials.

but it's important to remember that without bad trailers, we wouldn't have good trailers. and that's why i think we should check out the spot for Every Day.

the brief verdict: it's boring. the evidence: the trailer spends 2 and a half minutes giving us just one storyline: Liev's character is going through a slump in his marriage, and he meets a new woman who spices up his life. there's nothing else going on. and aside from spelling the whole thing out with dialogue, it's repeated in copy via redundant and uninspired copy in 5+ cards.

let's focus on the cards for a bit. first off, there's nothing clever, poetic or interesting about them. if you're going to use copy/VO in a trailer, there should be a reason--like you need help getting the story across or you want to share the film's credentials or you have a particularly cool turn of phrase you want to include. but none of the cards here help in any way:

"everyone wants a wonderful family"
"everyone wants a loving father"
"everyone wants a satisfying job"
"everyone wants a second chance"
"every day is another chance"
"to get it right"

the way they incorporated the film's title here feels forced. if that's what they were trying to do, then the copy should've been structured through the repetition of "every day" and not "everyone." like--every day is an adventure, every day is a complication, every day is another chance to get it right. (obviously that's off the cuff and not great, but you get the point.)

plus--a sidenote about cards--in trailers we usually follow the rule of three (like in my example above) when making one statement. you can have more cards later, but they should be making a second statement, upping the stakes. in this trailer, all the copy is essentially one long sentence, and it slows down the pacing because we never get past first gear. when every card starts with the same line, we never move into a second act.

this one-act structure is further aided by the music, which never goes anywhere. the first two cues are very similar. the final song is the only one that has movement, but it's such an emotional cue that it creates no tension between what we're seeing and what we're hearing, which makes the spot feel like it's hitting us over the head with its message. check out the Black Swan and Cowboys and Aliens trailers above (and the newer Last House On the Left spot in a previous post) to see why it's more effective when the music contrasts with the visuals.

okay, i realize i'm going on way too long with this analysis, and i'm running the risk of coming off as redundant and heavy handed as this trailer. but honestly, if the piece had been a minute long, i'd have a completely different reaction to it. because if i'd only seen snippets of what happens in the film, i'd be intrigued. i love ensemble dramas that have an indie feel. but this trailer showed me too much without ever shifting into second gear--and so the film went from quirky character-driven drama to trite story i've seen a hundred times before.

sorry for the ultra long post! i guess i owed you guys for the weeks of radio silence. anyway, i probably won't blog again this week because of the holiday, but feel free to chime in below with your favorite (and most hated) trailers from this holiday season!

No comments:

Post a Comment