I like film trailers, I really do, there’s nothing like sitting in a theatre and being caught off guard by a well cut piece of promotional material. I honestly feel there’s been something lost in the dilution of trailers. By the way this is how my Blog is going to operate 90% of the time, I’m not particularly interesting or insightful so this is largely going to be moaning about cinematic minuate on a weekly basis. So this, as the Decemberists would say, is how I become your humble narrator.


Where once they were seen only in the cinema, tastes of exotic and unknown films to come, now they are a commodity unleashed onto the internet months before the grace the silver screen. As a geek there is always a conflict between delayed and instant gratification. Do you jump through the hoops set up by canny meta-marketers to find that all important HD QuickTime trailer? Or do you forego your natural geeky impulses and take a chance on seeing the trailer in its natural environment? Increasingly film trailers seem to be a way for film geeks to clue their non-geek friends into a potentially interesting property. My preferred method is an elbow into the increasingly disgruntled ribs of my friend when a trailer for a film I think they’ll like comes on.


Of course there are some unforeseen consequences to the old ‘I’m elbowing you in the ribs because this trailer corresponds with my interests’ gambit. The first is miscommunication, a poke in the ribs can be interpreted in several different ways from ‘pay attention’ to ‘holy crap, this looks like hatred on screen let us laugh disparagingly at it’. So elbowing your friend during the Sex and the City 2 Trailer (I have nothing against Sex and the City or rom-coms in general, but Jesus is that a terribly put together trailer) with the intention of mocking can result in furtive worried glances from your colleagues.


The second unforeseen consequence is when a trailer drastically undersells a film YOU KNOW is going to be great. I’ve read the reviews of Kick-Ass, I know the writing and directing pedigree involved, and everything tells me as a film geek that it’s going to be a riotous, righteous, time a the cinema. However the trailer currently showing in the UK is like being stabbed in the face with an anaemic protractor of mediocrity. A film that should be vital and fun and…well…kick-ass is being marketed in the most limp wristed manner possible and it is up to the geeks to try and rehabilitate the film for their friends.


Maybe it is because of the immediacy of promotional material the past few years, the embroiling of marketing department and audience leading to gigantic esoteric scavenger hunts to eek out teaser trailers and posters, but it feels like trailers just don’t have the impact anymore. The best trailer I’ve seen recently, in terms of being visually interesting, well edited, and creating a general mood, was for Tron Legacy which is a film I had no real interest in. It feels like trailers are becoming kind of lazy, more content to work off audiences members of properties than to actually sell a movie on its own terms. I’m massively excited for Iron Man 2, but the trailer for the film feels clumsy and muddled. Whilst Tron is evocative, interesting and stylish, Iron Man feels like it was edited to a template.


My theory is that marketers often decide give the audience what they want rather than what they need and as such we end up with trailers which follow the same basic pattern. It’s not just a problem with geek properties even trailers for non-geek properties seem to have given up the pretence of being anything but the movie they’re advertising in truncated form. The Blind Side, despite being a film which I’ve heard is just kind of banal and mediocre rather than aggressively bad, is a film I’m slowly developing a genuine loathing for. The Blind Side, in the UK at least, is getting one of the most aggressive marketing pushes I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve been to the cinema fourteen times over the past six weeks and I’ve seen The Blind Side trailer each and every time. This is a level of consistency absolutely unknown to most UK cinema goers and it brings my issue with the trailer into sharp focus.


The trailer takes the Robert Zemeckis route of trailer making and essentially condenses the movie into three minutes. Sandra Bullock is a sassy southern mother who is used to getting her own way, Sandra Bullock meets a poor ethnic kid and adopts him into her family, the ethnic kid slowly opens up about the general shittiness of his life and together ethnic kid and Sandra Bullock learn some much needed life lessons despite the societal roadblocks in their way (the least threatening gang in the world for Ethnic Kid, a bunch of terrifying WASPs for the Bullock) and everyone ends up enriched (apart from the poor schlub getting tackled by a guy who is approximately the size and weight of a wardrobe). Everything from the use of music, to the emotive use of slow motion (Sandra Bullock’s ‘LOL WUT’ face upon learning ethnic kid has never had a bed is kind of priceless), seems designed to explain exactly what you’re going to get and how everything is going to transpire and what is sad is that it’s probably been a very successful campaign.


For all of my moaning I’m not unaware of the fact that this type of marketing sells and isn’t anything new, it’s just a shame to see film trailers (which used to excite me almost as much as the main feature) stripped of so much purpose. In reality the only interesting thing about most trailers now is the insight they give us into marketing minds. It’s interesting trying to understand the thought process behind the choice of trailers which precede a movie and often the trailers can work as a barometer of the experience you’re about to have. I had a particularly frightful encounter earlier this week when watching I Love You Philip Morris. The film was preceded by trailers for Sex and the City 2, Whip It, Dear John and of course The Blind Side. These trailers with their common themes of sisters doing it for themselves and love conquering all had me seriously worrying about the relative merits of I Love You Philip Morris. Thankfully I Love You Philip Morris, despite being a romantic comedy in its own way, had an edge and verve to it which made the other trailers seem almost hilariously inappropriate.