Friday, February 22, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Problem With Trailers

I dislike movie trailers.

I really do.

I've loved going to the cinema ever since I was a kid. The build up to the 'Feature Presentation' was always part of the spectacle and fun of going. The trailers, in particular, were exciting not just because you got to find out what new films were coming out (obviously), but because you got to see what they were going to be like up there on the big screen.

Now I've come to see trailers for what they really are: a cynical unrepresentative advert designed to manipulate and tease while almost always giving away too much and spoiling it for everyone.

I now have a policy with regard to trailers. If it's a film I want to see, I will avoid as much publicity as possible.

Teaser trailers are fine – generally they don't give too much away. They give enough of an overall picture of the film for me to gauge whether it's something I'd be interested in.

What I dislike is the full trailer which seems to be the entire film reduced to its core elements in a nice 3 minute package. Honestly, I've seen some trailers which have negated the need for me to see the film because I've seen all the important bits and all the funny and/or meaningful dialogue.

It seems Hollywood is hell-bent on doing multiple trailer versions (with different footage for different countries which everyone sees anyway thanks to the internet), TV spots and exclusive internet trailers. Good grief, they've even done trailers for trailers (Cowboys and Aliens). What next? A trailer for a trailer for a trailer???

Also, most trailers seem to be edited by the same person. They all follow pretty much the same pattern that sort of goes like this:

- Quiet intro, usually showing a bit from the beginning of the film
- Gravelly voice over begins to fill you in on what this film is ABOUT (optional)
- Titles come up to set the story (optional)
- Then, the music starts and we see the protagonist, and probably the antagonist too
- Action builds ... tension is rising
- Wait ... here comes the FUNNY PART!
- More action
- Faster and faster edits!
- STOP! .... it's another FUNNY!
- Then the music reaches it's climax with more and more fast cuts with someone probably screaming 'nooooooooo!' in slow motion.
- TITLES! (accompanied by whoosh! or ching! sound effect)
- Gravelly voice over (optional)
- End

Dear Trailer editing guy. Please try and do something original. At the very least, avoid giving away everything about the film. Thanks.

Movie Review - The Hobbit

The one thing that I noticed while I was watching Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was the blatant nods and winks to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whether it was the music, a line of dialogue or a sweeping shot of Middle Earth it felt like someone was whispering in my ear: "Look! It's like the Lord of the Rings, only a bit different! Aren't we clever? Oh look – It's Lord Elron! You know, from LORD OF THE RINGS!!".

Maybe it was that annoying bloke sitting next to me in the cinema ...

I know, of course you're going to get nods and winks. This is a prequel or sorts after all, but I wonder if this film suffers from some kind of inferiority complex when compared to LOTR (which I shall refer to it as from now on because it's quicker to write). Maybe that's why Jackson pushed for a trilogy so that it could stand up to LOTR in terms of scope, depth and, er, number of films.

The Hobbit is an enjoyable enough romp through Tolkein's fantasy world with plenty of battles and close shaves with a bit of dwarvish angst thrown in. Needless to say, our heroes make it to the end of the film (no, that's not a spoiler because part 2 is coming out next year) having developed slightly as individuals and moved a bit closer to their ultimate destination (the lair of evil dragon Smaug).

Martin Freeman does a double-take ... for a change

Overall I found it a bit, well, just more of the same. A group go on a quest, they fight some orcs, have a rest, fight some trolls, have a rest, eat then sleep, fight some goblins and then – um, that's about it really.

It's not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but personally I don't think it's the masterpiece everyone seems to be saying it is. LOTR broke the mould by doing decent fantasy that wasn't too ridiculous. Sure, it was long, but it was an epic and you kind of expected that. The Hobbit feels like it's trying to punch above its weight and only coming off as mediocre (Hobbits are short, after all).

The problem is, The Hobbit is always going to suffer because it's from a book that's just a couple of hundred pages long. A lot of people have said that Jackson deliberately extended the films so that he could make more money. I don't want to be one of those moaners who accuse Jackson of being greedy. I think that's unfair and unwarranted. I genuinely believe he loves everything Middle Earthy with a passion and has been determined to stay as faithful to Tolkein's vision, but I think maybe he loves all things Hobbity and Elfy and Dwarfy a bit too much. Perhaps he saw this as his last ever chance to ever do Tolkien on screen so wanted to milk it for all it was worth creatively.

The one character that stands out in this film is Radagast the Brown, excellently portrayed by ex-Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy. The wizard is wonderfully eccentric (moreso that Gandalf), with an interesting mode of transport that is both hilarious and awesome at the same time. It would have been good to see more of him, but given that Radagast doesn't actually appear in the original novel (he has a part in LOTR, albeit briefly), it seems unlikely – although on the Internet Movie Database he is listed as a character in the sequels so who knows.

Martin Freeman does a good job being the reluctant hobbit hero, but still behaves like his character from The Office, which is kind of annoying. While he looks remarkably similar to a younger version of Ian Holm (who plays the older Bilbo), his mannerisms are pure Martin Freeman which kind of spoils things for continuity (well, for picky sods like me, anyway). The rest of the cast are well-chosen, particularly Ken Stott, Richard Armitage and James Nesbitt giving both humour and gravitas to the ragtag band of dwarves.

Anyway, in conclusion I came away slightly disappointed. I had to watch it in 3D for various reasons and, for me 169 mins in three dimensions was hard work (I tend to find that 3D doesn't really work for me - my eyes really have to strain and the effect is a bit lost on me unfortunately), so perhaps I wasn't in a totally objective mood. This could have been a nice little film without too much pretensions but just feels over-bloated and stodgy (a bit like Hobbit stew, probably).

Verdict: 5 out of 10.