Posts Tagged 'stories'

When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 7 Titanic

I wrestled over choosing this one.  I first saw Titanic when I was 17, naïve about so much, and deeply effected by the film’s tragic and romantic underpinnings. 

Age and maturity have changed my perception.

Cut together as a narrative tease, the trailer succeeds in providing a strong look at its scope as well the film’s pervasive look at class differences, one of its central and strongest manipulated themes…

The trailer itself bears significance if only for its length, running just over four minutes, a detail that incurred a fine in 1997 for overshooting the two-and-a-half-minute rule.  Cameron pieced it together himself (a chore directors usually outsource). 

The film works on many levels, and fails on just as many (Steven Greydanus has an excellent write up on this).  Visually, even after 12 years, it’s still a stunner.  Taken on its technical merits alone, it is unmatched — the effort undertaken to bring the RMS Titanic to life required significant innovations developed due to the inability to create certain effects digitally, a hurdle today’s CGI could clear with ease.


When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 6 The Dark Knight

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”  There is no better statement that captures the mad remorseless villainy of terrorism. 

Ah, you thought I was going to say The Joker, didn’t you. 

The Dark Knight dared enter a realm most filmmakers lately will circle with wary sensitivity.  Many things elevate this film above its comic book peers, but dir. Christopher Nolan’s best choice was to create a contemporary parable that speaks to a very real threat looming over the world. 

The reality of The Joker is not a costumed psychopath, it’s the belief that a world without rules only leads to one inevitable end, and it takes a certain kind of hero to stop that speeding locomotive. 

“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him, because he can take it.  Because he’s not our hero.  He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector.  A dark knight.”

When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 5 The Incredibles

Pixar had its game on from the beginning, but to stay fresh, John Lasseter brought in someone to shake up the status quo: Brad Bird. 

Like most Pixar teasers, the trailer only hints at what the film will deliver:

The first Pixar film not created by one of its founding members achieved a successful combination of humor and action, plus a weighty look at heroism, and a scathing indictment against the culture of entitlement.   

Every inch of the film works, from thematic development, voice characterization, pacing and editing (not to mention turning decades of comic book mythos on its ear) and remains on the top tier of Pixar’s strongest efforts.  Throw in Michael Giaccino’s bombastic score, and this film is pure magic.

The Last Airbender Teaser

(via AICN)

Since we’re on the subject of trailers, here plays what we hope will be the return of M. Night Shyamalan:

For what little the teaser reveals, it hints at the kind of scope Night has tended to avoid in his films.  Both Signs and The Happening dealt with wide-spread cataclysm, and kept their narrative focus tight on a mere handful of characters. 

For the first time since The Sixth Sense, Night has taken on the adaptation of someone else’s creation (he previously penned the script to 1999’s Stuart Little).  Based on the series Avatar: The Last Airbender, producers dropped the title to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s Avatar, coming this December (which still hasn’t received a trailer). 

The Last Airbender premieres Summer 2010.

When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 4 Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The Terminator had already achieved a solid place at the cultural water-cooler, and this trailer merely plays on it. Amid all the sparks, techno cues, and Schwarzenegger’s red eyes, there lies not a hint of plot. But James Cameron delivered a sequel that not only left its predecessor in the parabolic ash heap, it achieved something rare for an action movie: thematic meaning.

When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 2 Juno

“This is one doodle that can’t be undid, homeskillet.”

There’s a level of charm in this movie, however unintentional or however much the filmmakers may like to say otherwise, that captures the sanctity of life with better aplomb than a Sunday sermon.

That, and it’s funny.

Juno might be overstuffed with wise-acre snark, but underneath it, I caught the folds of some deftly woven material too risky for many comedies to touch—like the rewards of faithfulness (Juno’s mom and dad), and the challenge of masculinity (the juxtaposition between Mark and Bleeker; i.e. Jason Bateman and Michael Cera).

When Trailers Strike Gold – Part 0

Independence Day

Independence Day

Were someone to poll me on my least favorite things, arriving at the movie theater and finding a seat in the dark as a film’s opening minutes blaze on screen would easily make the top five. 

I don’t just love the movies; I love the whole experience.  I enjoy the smell of popcorn, finding a plush reclining seat, and I enjoy getting to watch the trailers before the lights dim all the way down and the movie starts. 

Cutting a trailer is an art.  Just the right amount of tweaking, and a good trailer can make an awful film look like a leprechaun’s pot of gold.  But while they have a reputation for playing better than the material they tease, trailers will sometimes lead to a magical experience at the end of the rainbow. 

Over the next ten days, I want to highlight some excellent trailers that led to great times watching the movies.  This is not a definitive list by any means; merely a chance to enjoy everyone’s favorite part of going to the movies. 

First up: Independence Day (coming later today)