[$9 Trailers is a feature that examines movie trailers, and judges how well (or poorly) they execute their job of making me want to shell out nine bucks to see them.]
First I’d to address a few of the comments offered in last month’s installment on Chronicle. In hindsight, choosing $9 as the basis for a movie ticket’s cost was perhaps a bit conservative. I will concede that it might be more appropriate to go with a higher price, but as the column has already launched, the original price will stay. I hope you can forgive me.
As I wrote last month, many movie trailers suffer from horribly overused plot patterns we’ve come to expect in our previews. Another issue plaguing many modern trailers is dialogue saturation. Dialogue saturation occurs when a trailer attempts to infuse as many clever and enticing lines as possible into a minute and a half (or less). DS is most likely to strike in thrillers, period pieces and biopics, due to those genres’ reliance on conversation-heavy scenes.
Here’s an example of a trailer suffering from dialogue saturation, courtesy of The Ides of March:
In every moment of this trailer, someone is speaking. Scripts are an immensely important (and often undervalued) aspect of a film, but in the example above, we get almost no insight into the visual and visceral nature of the movie. Rather we are subjected to a barrage of poignant lines and sharp dialogue. A great trailer balances both, which brings us to Snow White and the Huntsman.
When I heard “Snow White” and “Kristen Stewart” being bandied about, I can’t say my interest level was high. In actuality, it barely had a pulse. CGI-laden fairy tale experiments had already crashed and burned numerous times on the big screen, and this one seemed to have no pedigree to suggest it wouldn’t follow suit. But then I saw the trailer, and my presumptions went out the window.
The concept of the trailer is brilliant: show the story from the villain’s side. The only narration we get is from the evil Queen (a deliciously wicked Charlize Theron). With a pulsing score running underneath, we are treated to a flurry of foreboding images: a crow exploding into a thousand birds, a sword disintegrating a soldier and the Queen sucking the youth out of a girl. The narration is relevant but vague enough to suggest what will come rather than expose it. I could list another dozen great visual moments in this trailer (shout out to Charlize sinking into a puddle of white) but the true power of this preview lies in the steadfast choice to relegate Snow White and the Hunstman pursuing her to bit parts.
Snow White has always been the focus of the fairy tale. To see her only through the Queen’s eyes provokes an immediate curiosity as to how the film will play out. Trailer audiences are also treated to not having to hear Kristen Stewart speak a single word! The dark auspices of the trailer’s mood, coupled with the inspired choice to focus on the most compelling actress/character of the film, have sold me on a movie I was positive I would never see. A great trailer will reconfirm an audience’s high expectations (The Dark Knight Rises), but the best trailers will turn the disinterested into patrons. See you in June, Snow White and the Huntsman.
Watch the trailer below: