Are Trailers Ruining Films?

More and more it seems apparent that Hollywood are showing us the best parts of a film in a trailer to get us to that all important opening weekend. But is this perpetuating a disappointment in the actual substance of recent superhero films?

Lately, I have found that the spark the cinema-going experience has been somewhat dulled by something I couldn’t quite specifically fathom. At first I thought it was age. Some of you will be familiar with the four quadrant model that dictates the four main audience demographics; men over 25, men under 25, women under 25 and women over 25. The more squares a film hits, the higher the likelihood of its popularity.

www.screencraft.org

screencraft.org

However, the “easiest” two quadrants are males and females under 25, so most blockbusters aim to please this demographic. I may not be over 25 yet, but I did do Film Studies for two years and it left me quite cynical, so my first thought was that I had grown disinterested in Hollywood film and superheroes and action and fun and I was going to die alone and boring, because that’s what happens when you become a grown-up.  And then I suddenly felt like Tom Hanks in that Carly Rae Jepsen video. As I clung to the fragments of my youth, I watched every single superhero film that came out in my lifetime (yes, that includes the 2008 Incredible Hulk).

But then I made a very crucial revelation at this point, out of the recent superhero films (Batman Vs Superman, Deadpool etc) none of them I thought were bad, I actually really enjoyed them. So what made me initially disappointed? What had already happened to make me disinterested in the actual source material? THE TRAILERS!

By this, I mean that the experience of the trailers can sometimes eclipse the film itself. Yet, a good trailer usually reflects a good film, (of course there are always anomalies). What other factors are at play here? Now, the Deadpool trailers were absolutely brilliant, but upon reflecting on the actual film, I found that I couldn’t laugh out loud, as I felt I’d already experienced it. Several times. Whereas, with the Batman Vs Superman trailers, I felt they were on par with the film. But I didn’t dislike Deadpool, not even a little bit. It was absolute gold.

At this point maybe we can deduce that genre has an impact on this. With comedy, you’re likely only to get the desired reaction the first time you see the material. Even with great comedians like Peter Kay, who you can watch over and over and still laugh at, if you see it too many times consecutively, it can get old fast. Then you have to wait what seems like an age to be able to enjoy it again. With Deadpool being largely a comedy film, hearing the jokes several times before seeing the film took away some of the value and novelty of it. But with Batman Vs Superman, the attempt at comedy was minute and it focussed on action, offering a very different relationship between trailer and film.

In addition to this, many argued that putting Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs Superman Trailer took away what could have been an epic twist. However, other said that using her as a selling point was a smart move for DC, as they’ve been getting a lot of flack lately for not being as far on with their cinematic universe as Marvel is. Using Wonder Woman as a tool to increase revenue for the opening weekend undoubtedly helped them, but there wasn’t much else that could be described as novelty present in the canon of the film itself.

When this is compared to the Suicide Squad trailers for DC’s upcoming summer blockbuster, there is significant shift. Obviously excluding Will Smith (Deadshot), Jared Leto (Joker) is credited most often on posters and such, however, he is hardly present in the trailers. On the other hand, Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) is extremely prevalent throughout, while being second to last in the list of main cast members. This makes it feel like DC are using Jared Leto’s name and star power to sell the film but are restricting the imagery of the Joker as a kind of secrecy tactic to increase buzz, because that’s really who everyone wants to see. Whereas, the image of Harley Quinn/ Margot Robbie is more notable as Robbie has been in the public eye in the recent past with American Hustle and other successful films, and Harley Quinn is often forgotten from popular media.

Overall, yes a good film is often mirroring a good trailer, but the tactical use of star power and imagery can manipulate the audience response. Also, different genres of film seem to gauge different trailer/film paradigms which can shift with time. Ultimately, the trailers generate a lot of buzz (or lack thereof) and it’s up to you to decide how involved you are in the advertising of media.

Do you think trailers add or take away from the novelty of film-going?

Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

 

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Fanatical About The Flash

As an avid DC fan, it’s surprising that The Flash is one superhero that I personally haven’t had a lot of exposure to, here is a take on their current TV series ‘The Flash’ from the point of view of a ‘Flash virgin’.

*SPOILER ALERT: This article will contain spoilers for the latest episodes of The Flash aired in the UK, this may also include theories on future episodes based on The Flash in other media.*

Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to review the first episode of The Flash as I did with Gotham, so now I thought I would amalgamate all the previous episodes to form what is my understanding of the franchise so far. I haven’t had a lot of exposure to The Flash at all, only 90s TV series, which I don’t really remember. Most people view Aquaman as the ‘lame’ superhero, but as a child, I loved Aquaman and I thought The Flash was lame. Having super-speed as your sole ability always seemed a little less cool than say, Batman, who has no powers at all but is agile and smart, therefore can defeat his foes using his own resources. Having said that, now I’m older, I find it more interesting how in the new series, Cisco and Caitlin are helping Barry do all sorts of things with his speed, so it doesn’t seem like it’s ‘just speed’. I’m writing all of this a lot more personally, simply because I’m new to this franchise, so this is just my take on what’s happening so far.

Firstly I just want to bring your attention to something I did recognise, which I probably shouldn’t have and the only reason I knew this was because of the game DC launched a few years ago, DC Universe Online. In case you’re not aware of this, DC Universe Online is an MMORPG set within the DC comic universe, centring around Gotham and Metropolis. In the game, one of the first levels is a partnership with the Flash (if you choose to be a superhero that is!) against a gorilla with superhuman intelligence called (General) Gorilla Grodd. Some of you may recognise the name, it appeared on a cage that Doctor Wells was contemplating a few episodes ago at STAR labs. From what I gathered about Grodd on DCUO, is that he was a human at one point but he feels that by devolving into an ape he’s gained more than he gained by being a human. His aim is to basically devolve the general populace to their ‘ape form’. Because of the cage, I’m inclined to believe that the genetic work that Doctor Wells mentioned he did alongside (that other guy he killed) may have experiemented on Grodd and therefore caused his superhuman intelligence.

Gorilla Grodd as depicted in DC Universe Online

Gorilla Grodd as depicted in DC Universe Online

Speaking of Doctor Harrison Wells, I had my suspicions from the start of the series that he’s not part of the Flash canon. I googled it and there’s a number of theories flashing around about who he really is, implying that Harrison Wells may be an alias. Some of these theories include him being Flash from the future or a descendant of Reverse Flash (who presumably killed Barry Allen’s mother). An interesting thing to note about Doctor Wells is that he has the ability to see into the future. He asks Oracle (again, something I know because of DCUO) to look for the Flash in future headlines. I say this is interesting because this is something I have a theory about. This isn’t crystal because of how little I know about it and the fact I’ve never actually read about it and only heard of it but I have to mention… The Crisis on Infinite Earths. For those who don’t know, this was a twelve part series of comic books by DC that initially started to celebrate the 50th anniversary, but evolved into a way of correcting the continuity errors that DC were (and still are!) reknowned for. We all know the go to method of rectifying errors in the fantasy genre… Yep, it’s time travel.

harrison wells

Doctor Harrison Wells

I now bring your attention to the latest episode, The Man in the Yellow Suit… At the very end, we see Doctor Wells looking at a yellow flash suit. So we know that he is a liar but “how so?” is now the question. Cisco mentioned that there were two Flashes, one red one yellow, but the one Wells has is yellow like the man in the yellow suit or Reverse Flash. We saw Doctor Wells get beaten up by this guy, so how is it that he has a yellow suit when the other Flash must be red? My thoughts are that either two Harrison Wells’ exist in the same time stream or one was his past/future self (yes I am focusing my theories on time travel). Or maybe there’s another Flash or even a robotic Flash that Wells controls… Either way I am completely hooked.

The Flash and Arrow

The Flash and Arrow

I also have to mention the Flash vs Arrow crossover episodes, of course. I have to admit that one of the reasons I was apprehensive about before The Flash started was DC taking advantage of crossovers and using them too much in a cheesy way to launch their new show. Arrow is absolutely brilliant and I was initially scared that DC would ruin Arrow in an attempt to make The Flash just as successful. I could not have been more wrong. The crossover was quite tasteful and I enjoyed how Felicity was brought in earlier to create more of a rapport between the characters so it wouldn’t be disjointed in the future. If DC really are planning to eventually create a TV Justice League, I’m actually quite excited to see it.

Overall, I think the series is going really well and it has definitely drawn me in. If you haven’t seen The Flash yet, I highly recommend this series. I sincerely hope it continues to soar to new heights in the new year, along with Arrow.

Five Things to Think About Before Avengers: Age of Ultron

Five things that will break all Marvel fans regarding the Age of Ultron teaser trailer.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer got released a week earlier than expected, exciting all us Marvelites. My friends and I were in London at the time and we scrambled around for wifi in the hotel when we heard, squealing to the extent that our teacher came and told us off… By the end we were quite literally hiding behind the furniture. Here I will list five things in the trailer that are sure to give you so many feels you’ll be rocking back and forth.

1) The Hulkbuster/ Bruce Banner in a straitjacket

If you aren’t aware of what the Hulkbuster is, it’s basically an Iron Man style suit that Tony Stark built in order to restrain The Hulk should it run wild. It’s seen in Iron Man when Obidiah strikes Tony and harnesses the power of the arc reactor. Long story short, when the Hulkbuster is present, shit is going down – it’s a last resort protocol. Furthermore, Bruce was in a straightjacket. As a dedicated Avengers fan and a general Bruce devotee, this broke my heart because it can only mean he’s having trouble controlling The Hulk.

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2) Captain America’s shield split in two

Another thing that broke my heart because I absolutely love Cap, is the shot of his shield broken in half. The shield is made of Vibranium, an unbreakable material so naturally, my reaction was: HOW?! This image was probably used in the trailer to provoke this response and to make the villain seem even stronger and more intimidating. The sad truth is that Marvel is going to kill off Captain America in the near future (yeah I don’t want to think about it either), most likely in the third Captain America film, so this could possibly be his weak point leading to his demise.

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3) Natasha’s past

When we see ballet cuts, it can only mean one thing: Natasha Romanoff’s backstory. Fans have been craving this since the first Avengers film and now we’re finally getting somewhere. This is sure to provoke intense emotion and really rivet audiences.

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4) The Thor/Iron Man confrontation

At one point in the trailer, we see Tony Stark get attacked by Thor. This suggests a conflict in the group dynamic. As a fan there’s nothing more crushing than when the strongest members of the team are sparring, especially with the Avengers when they work so well as a unit and you just want to scream at them and make them work together…

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5) Ultron sounds like a distorted JARVIS

For those who don’t know, the baddie of Age of Ultron is going to be a being called Ultron, created by Tony Stark that manifests inside his own supercomputer, JARVIS. When you listen to Ultron’s voice, he sounds like a very distorted version of JARVIS, like he’s still in there somewhere. I for one found this very disturbing and feels-provoking.

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron will undeniably render all fangirls speechless; I just hope we get some more answers soon!

Watch The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer here:

Gallivanting into Gotham

A look into the first episode of Gotham and how it could build even more into the Batman franchise.

*SPOILER ALERT: This post WILL contain spoilers for the first episode of Gotham.*

The episode starts like every other Batman origin story, Bruce’s parents get shot in an alleyway, there’s the whole pearl necklace/wallet thing and Bruce yells into the sky etc. Cinematically, this part was cliche and it failed to bring anything new. There was just the regular; slow motion pearls dropping to the ground and wide shot of Bruce with his parents dead at either side of him. This is definitely visible in Batman Begins and if you thought about, you could probably trace that scene back further. Nothing new. With such an iconic first scene,one could argue that is was expected to be the same scene we’d all seen before because there’s always the fear of ruining it.

The next part is where it got decidedly more interesting, instead of the jump straight back to Bruce that occurs in almost all Batman spinoffs, we got some real backstory content. What I was most pleased with, was Jim/Barbara Gordon. They are often overlooked in the screen versions of Batman because they act as mainly a periphery to the focus of Batman. We got a glimpse of their home life before they get married and have children and I hope to see more of this chemistry between them.

This gives us real characters with individual stories to tell. Character development is extremely important in shows such as this one, so one can only hope that this high level is maintained throughout the entire series. The juxtaposition of Jim Gordon and in their unruly partnership highlights the theme of conflict even within Gotham’s own police force. This theme is prevalent throughout and will undoubtedly be a focus point in all of the episodes. It was established particularly well, as it is noticeable but also the underlying elements such as Gordon’s other relationships (with Barbara, Fish etc) make for an neat package overall.

Gotham Poster

Something that would please a lot of Batman fans was the constant references to known Batman villains. Firstly, the casting is amazing. Though our protagonist Gordon is well cast and delivered the role exceedingly well, one has to nod casting of the villains. Oswald didn’t need constant references to ‘Penguin’; he was recognisable as the character already. The same goes for a few other iconic villains, one that comes to mind is Scarecrow, which may not be apparent to new fans but is particularly prevalent to the built in Batman audience.

Having a child named Ivy was a nice twist, whether or not she will become the Poison Ivy can be disputed. However, seeing as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in The Dark Knight Rises, who was supposed to be a sidekick character to Batman, was called Robin as a nudge to the comic verse. Maybe the same tactic is being used with the character of Ivy, which should make for excellent intertextuality and overlapping or parallel narratives between characters.

Another character that we see at the start, who witnesses the murder of the Waynes and keeps cropping up in unexpected places, is a young nameless woman who possibly could be our first inkling of the character of Catwoman, due to her poise and cat-like qualities.

This episode was a terrific start to the show and if this level of writing and acting is preserved, Gotham will surely become an immense hit with audiences.

Missed the first episode? No problem! Watch it on Demand 5 now!

Link to Pilot Episode of Gotham on Demand 5