McGinnis: A tale of two trailersWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It is interesting that we live in a world where far more analysis and excitement seems to come in the wake of trailers’ release rather than for the actual movies that the trailers are promoting.
In an age of streaming entertainment and instant gratification, terabytes of text and video are being dedicated to analyzing every detail of these coming attractions teasers, taking up months of film buffs’ time, while the feature films themselves are lucky to dominate the conversation more than a week or two. Our box-office attention spans have been so whittled down by Hollywood that the hype for a movie is rather analogous to a male orgasm: Bursts of excitement for a while, a big climax when the flick hits theaters, and then pop culture rolls over and goes to sleep.
The Internet lost its collective mind April 16 as director JJ Abrams released a few scant details about his much-hyped “Star Wars” sequel, “The Force Awakens,” at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Droids were discussed, a planet was named and other pieces of minutia were revealed that would be of little interest to anyone if the words “Star Wars” weren’t attached. Then the newest trailer for “The Force Awakens” was played, and the sheer force of the geek orgasm experienced was enough to make the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” faint.
At around the same time, a short teaser trailer was released announcing that the first teaser for the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” film to be released the following Monday. The very idea that a teaser trailer FOR a teaser trailer even exists was enough to make some give a justifiable sneer. Then, thanks to a hacker posting the “Batman” teaser (the actual teaser, not the teaser for the teaser, if you follow me) ahead of schedule, Warner Bros. were forced to release the trailer on April 17, where comparisons to the new “Force Awakens” piece became inevitable.
The reaction was swift and brutal. Fans that lost their minds over the scant details the “Star Wars” trailers provided promptly ripped the “Batman” movie to shreds over the scant details IT provided. The new DC film movie was too dark, too grim, the “Star Wars” movie is so much more exciting, we’ve had too much of Batman anyway, “Man of Steel” was massively disappointing, I’m so not into this and on and on. Verdicts on both films are already in: The new “Star Wars” will be amazing, and “Batman v Superman” isn’t worth the sand on R2-D2′s treads.
This is grossly unfair — to both movies.
First, to pre-judge any film based solely on its trailer is pretty silly. The trailer is a marketing tool, a commercial. No more, no less. And a commercial that is usually made by someone totally separate from the actual filmmakers. It’s designed to get people excited to see a movie, and there have been innumerable examples where trailers have skillfully made the finished product look way better than it actually is.
Secondly, to gleam any real meaning from either trailer on the content or subject matter of the actual films in question is still stretching it. Like the even briefer teaser that preceded it, the new “Force Awakens” ad offers snippets of images that suggest the “Star Wars” universe without giving any solid indication of what the story will be about, who any of the new characters are or how they relate to each other. The only dialogue heard is either lifted virtually verbatim from earlier films (Luke’s monologue in “Return of the Jedi”) or Han Solo’s “Chewie, we’re home,” which generates a huge reaction because … people didn’t know Harrison Ford was in this movie, I guess.
Meanwhile, I would argue the new “Batman” trailer actually gives a better sense of the world and conflict between the two heroes it depicts. Through its ominous snippets of conversation from citizens distrusting Superman and genuinely evocative images of the two heroes, we get the impression of dark times for the Man of Steel and the forces that seem to be pushing Batman and Superman into conflict, while still leaving plenty of mystery and reveals to come.
But my point isn’t to denigrate one while praising the other. It’s that to put these two pieces into direct competition just because of the coincidence of the release date of their advertising is a little odd. Both movies could be amazing. They both could suck. We don’t know nearly enough yet to judge. And to pass a verdict based solely on a pair of trailers — ads designed to get viewers excited, regardless of the quality of the film in question — seems a tad nearsighted.
Jeff McGinnis is pop culture editor at Toledo Free Press. He can be reached at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.