Do Movie Trailers Spoil The Film?

Joshua Vaughan

When I go to see a movie, I find it fun to watch the trailers for the upcoming releases. These days, I’m probably one of the few that doesn’t mind those 20 minutes of film trailers before my movie plays. It is almost a sneak-peek to see what different scenes may be like on the big screen, and I use this experience to see whether I’ll go see the film or not. As a film fanatic, I’ve probably already seen these trailers online beforehand, but it is simply not the same as seeing it on a big screen. One of the more memorable theatre experiences I had was when I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron at a midnight release.

The screening was packed, and people talked all the way through most of the trailers. That was until the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came on screen. People hushed, put their phones away, and took in the majesty on-screen. This was one of the first times the trailer had been shown on British screens, so rightfully, people knew the significance. People began tearing up, and as Han Solo and Chewy came on screen, the screening erupted.

I didn’t go to Comic Con, but I can only say that it would’ve been hard to beat that reaction. It’s times like these that make you think trailers should be an art form. In the 70’s we got lots of cheesy trailers that often were very character based, and showed almost no action. The 80’s brought us trailers that went through all the major plot points, and were extremely long and tedious. Oh, and that deep voice over, such as those that begin with “In a world…” became popularized.

The 90’s brought the major action set-pieces in the film being shown in the trailer, but with an even deeper-toned voice-over. The 2000’s brought a fadeto-black obsession, with witty one-liners ending each major clip. So, what does the 2010’s bring?

The 2010’s have become oversaturated with trailers that used the “Brwaam!” noise, shaped primarily from the Inception (2010) trailer; an overbearing “foghorn” type of noise with the intention of making the audience think that something important is happening. Where dialogue and plotdevices used to sell us on a movie, we now get a montage of things blowing up and other stuff crashing, and even times where there are so many shots, you can’t even tell what is taking place. All you can see are explosions overdubbed by a loud foghorn. As a test of 2010’s filmmaking, watch a Transformers trailer and click your fingers every time the shot changes. Your hand will hurt after 3 minutes.

I really don’t mind it if a trailer has a lot of shots and jump-cuts. I guess you could say I’m used to it. Trailers are often in no way indicative of what will happen in the final film. A classic example of this is the film Drive (2011) starring Ryan Gosling, which promised a full-blown action movie but turned out to be a nuanced reflection on relationships. The film was actually taken to court by a woman who claimed her experience was spoiled because she believed to be going into an action/driving movie, rather than the alternative. The grounds for false advertising are unclear, but are definitely relevant.

The film will market a movie to the biggest common denominator. If Transformers would make more people watch the film thinking it was a comedy, they would show a love-story in-trailer. It is risky business when judging a film from the trailer, and it is harder to temper your expectations. As I saw the trailer for Man of Steel (2013), which promised a story founded in the frailty of “steel” when placed under fiery scrutiny, the Superman tale looked as though it would be told for what the superhero is really about; with so many powers, how can you have weaknesses?

Despite these parts coming through in the scenes with Kevin Costner, every other scene without his presence was the all-out action movie absent from the trailer. The trailer was a work of art, and although the film was enjoyable, it did suffer from the Zack Snyder curse of having too much in the final cut. Despite my extreme fear that Snyder will ruin the upcoming Batman v Superman (March, 2016), I have my doubts that the trailers will be in any way indicative of what the final edit will look like. Thanks to 2010’s filmmaking, tempering expectations has never been so hard.

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