A Tale of Two Trailers

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This is the kind of week we wait for in film. We were treated to not just one, but two of the most anticipated trailers in the history of the Blockbuster. Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens may have only given us a few teasing moments to whet the appetite but they were enough to fuel anticipation levels and get everyone intensely talking and speculating.

 

The Jurassic World trailer came earlier in the week and because it’s due for a release on 12th June more post production has been completed so we got to see quite a bit of footage. In terms of plot there is a base to work upon here. 22 years after John Hammond’s initial attempt to bring dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park and create a park that would showcase these marvels it would seem someone has made this idea into a fully operational and popular attraction. Meanwhile, scientists (including the returning BD Wong as Henry Wu) are treading new genetic ground by creating the first hybrid dinosaur. The exact nature of this super dinosaur are very much under wraps and all we know are that it’s highly intelligent and kills at will, which suggests a velociraptor merged with something bigger, but that still remains a secret.

Being an obsessive follower of the Jurassic Park series it’s so great to actually see this trailer, just because it’s finally come to fruition. After years in development hell with massing uncertainty over who will direct or star or what story will be used it’s finally only six months away. Not only that but it looks great, it’s impossible to judge an entire film from a trailer but Jurassic World really does look the part and director Colin Trevorrow looks to have kept the essence of the original while adding his own style. There are only snippets of the various dinosaurs but there are plenty of them. Introducing new dinosaurs, including the massive sea dwelling Mosasaurus, and adding new dimensions to the old ones including the raptors, who are said to be working with staff member Owen played by Chris Pratt, both the human and dinosaur performances look a lot more layered than the one dimensional Jurassic Park III.

An issue with a lot of the trailers these days is they give away entire plotlines or all the best jokes in an attempt to sell the movie but there is still so much of Jurassic World which is shrouded in mystery. Does the T-Rex, the poster dinosaur for the franchise, return with a bigger role than that of the previous film? Will the raptors work with the humans or will they merely betray them? And what are the intentions of the owners of Jurassic World? Both Vincent D’Onofrio and Irrfan Khan are executives of the Masrani Corporation which own the theme park. Two big actors who we did not see in the trailer suggests that something more is afoot and I really cannot wait to see it on the big screen in a mix of excitement and pure unmitigated nostalgia.

Talking about nostalgia, whilst still getting over the trailer for Jurassic World only a few days later we had out first glimpse at The Force Awakens. I say a glimpse being it was only a minute and a half long. J.J Abrams and co have only just completed principal photography a few weeks ago and there will be still a huge amount to add in post production. Being only 88 seconds long and with a year left to complete, it lacked the flow of a theatrical trailer, but as random assortments of images go it was truly the pinnacle. Never before has an ominous voice over (Is it Serkis, Driver or Cumberbatch?) and a few out of context shots amassed so much excitement from so many.

It doesn’t answer a whole host of questions as to what’s in The Force Awakens except that it has The Millennium Falcon in all its glory, a Sith with a red lightsaber that, when ignited, becomes a crucifix shape and the X-Wings are back with Oscar Isaac at the helm of one. John Boyega’s role is uncertain, is he a Stormtrooper, or like Luke in a New Hope is he just donning the uniform and all we know about Daisy Ridley is she’s on Tatooine at some point of the film. So, lots still to speculate about. It’s been a real enjoyment in itself reading all of the various interpretations of what the various images mean. We still have a long way to go until December but from these few images it look promising.

One thing both Jurassic World and The Force Awakens are that John Williams was the composer for the original films and it is that music that really gives the trailer the extra edge over those of other movies. Interestingly, the same composer was look set to take over him for both movies, however, although Michael Giacchino is doing the score for Jurassic World, Williams is returning to the Star Wars universe once again. One thing that will be certain in both movies is the music will be spectacular.

We have been truly spoiled this week, even though the extent of that spoiling was a cumulative four minutes. At least we know that the films are on there way next year and we can go on speculating about plots and characters until they do.

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The Curse of The Comedy Trailer

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I love trailers. I love them so much that I have often spent full days just watching trailers on YouTube until I fall asleep. They provide a ridiculous amount of anticipation for upcoming films or a nostalgia to films long gone. However, there is one type of trailer that acts as a double edged sword. This is the comedy trailer. The catch 22 here is that they have to sell their movie, make people want to see it, establish the tone and that it’s got a load of laughs. But, they can’t give away all the best jokes otherwise there would be little point in people seeing it. That’s the big problem many trailers have, it often renders the film unfunny if you know what’s coming next.

One of the most blatant instances of this was when I recently saw a copy of Johnny English Reborn. The first one was very watchable, pretty funny and Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller and John Malkovich were on top form. A comedy that didn’t that itself too seriously. You expect predictability but in a good way, not in a ‘I saw that in the trailer’ way.

Where that was appealing to me, last year, I didn’t much fancy Johnny English Reborn at the cinema, I didn’t think it would merit the ticket money. It may have been considered if I didn’t see the trailer about 40 times at the cinema, as well as the preceding adverts that showed the trailer again to sell the Odeon Premier card. I knew what was coming and it dulled the enjoyment of an otherwise bland film. These jokes and slapstick humour are what would of saved the film for me, but considering I knew when they were coming it just killed it for me.

Things I could expect included Johnny English hitting a woman with a tray repeatedly before getting hit again, mistaking Gillian Anderson’s mother with that of an assailant, driving a motorised wheelchair under a lorry whilst evading the authorities and of course, that old chestnut, getting hit in the testicles several times.

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This is why when I see a trailer like the Hangover 3, This is the End or 21 and Over I’m terrified that all the best jokes will be revealed and I won’t be able to enjoy the film. I sit in anticipation of the punchline in the cinema. As the build up progresses I half expect half the audience to blurt out said zinger. Too often,  I’ve been in a packed screening and what’s supposed to be the money line from the script doesn’t get the wave of laughs hoped. Instead it’s gets a silent hush as everyone already knew what was coming ten minutes before, this is a big shame.

There have been some things done in the past that have tried to amend this problem including creating jokes separate from the film. Or doing a little short skit like Monsters Inc to introduce the tone and characters but not the killer lines.

Often though, comedies don’t have this luxury and they must surrender their best lines for the sake of getting their audience. In some cases though the film will be good enough so we forget this and in context, the jokes are given extra depth. This doesn’t happen as much as we’d like though.

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Audiences these days are so attuned to comedy beats that these films have to be so original that they catch out their viewers. You have to be very smart or audiences and critics alike will find you out and make you pay. People surely no longer will stand for movies that machine gun the audience with swearing and star cameos and shocks. Trying and attract the lowest common denominator, shoving a load of predictable unfunny lines onto the screen and adding very outdated film references, not that I’m pointing fingers at Scary Movie 5 here, it’s just Inception was three years ago…