Movie Preview Misleads
by Ismael Manzano
Hello again you, my rabid fans, it’s once again time for another of my observational commentary on pop culture, as seen through the eyes of a pathetically near-sighted man. I was watching television as I often do when I have better things to do, and I saw a preview for the DVD release for Red Eye, and it reminded me that I was supposed to have written a rant about movie previews months ago. So thank you, DVD makers, because you reminded me of something that’s been bugging me for quite some time.
If you remember the original trailer for the movie Red Eye, you’ll remember it shows one of the antagonist’s eye glow red. Now maybe I’m just an idiot, but I thought the antagonist was some sort of demon—the devil or at least a really successful lawyer. I was ready to go see the movie, expecting to see a supernatural thriller. Luckily, financial problems spared me the anger and angst of going to see the movie before I learned that, in reality, the movie has nothing to do with supernatural forces. It’s not that I think Red Eye is a bad movie—I’ve heard it was pretty good—it’s just I do not appreciate being tricked into paying ten bucks for a flick just because some overzealous advertising crony decided to get cute with the editing buttons he’d just found out about.
And it’s not just Red Eye. In the 1997 Mystery/Thriller, Switchback, the trailer showed a rewound scene in which Danny Glover’s character is falling from a plane, so that it appeared he was flying toward it. I actually sat through the entire movie—which wasn’t that good—expecting to see something more than, the standard, bad guy-good guy-feud that became too personal. It was a sore disappointment.
And this isn’t just a symptomatic problem of the thriller genre. It’s expanded beyond that. In Jennifer Lopez’s romance, Angel Eyes, the trailer shows very little of the actual movie and ends with the tagline: “You won’t believe your eyes.” Again, I was fooled by the trailer that suggested a supernatural element that was not present in the film—AT ALL. It literally ruined the movie for me and my wife, because we spent the entire time, jumping from one random—and absurd, in retrospect—conclusion after another that never panned out. If we would have known it was just a simply, sappy romance movie, we might have been able to enjoy it thoroughly, instead of judging it against a different genre. “You won’t believe your eyes.” What I couldn’t believe was that I actually got sucker punched into watching that bland, plotless crap that would have been embarrassing predictable if I had not expected to see a ghost or something exciting to jump out at me every five minutes.
Even comedies aren’t immune to the preview fake out. The movie, In Good Company advertised it as a romance, but in reality the movie hardly focused on the romance at all—which wasn’t particularly romantic in the first place—and instead focused on the life of an aging business man trying to find his place in a company that was rapidly trying to make itself more marketable to the younger generation. It wasn’t a bad movie, just categorized wrong.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe I’m just naïve, but I think trailers should be promises made to would-be consumers, not lies told to adolescent girls so you can get what you want from them before you leave them, used and confused, wandering what happened to the last ninety minutes of their lives.
An example of a good preview is the early preview for the 1989 Batman movie, which featured little more than the famous insignia. And really, what else do you need? If you were a fan of the comics, that was all it took to hook you and if you weren’t—seriously, are you kidding me, you don’t like Batman? What’s wrong with you?
Another example of a great preview was that trailer for the move Unbreakable (and pretty much any movie written by a man named after a letter of the alphabet, a time of day, and a 1960’s do-wop song). It gave you enough to know what the movie was not—i.e. a love story, a coming of age story or a western—without completely telling you what it was about. That’s a hook! You knew it was unusual and if you’re curious enough, you went to see it.
What’s worse are the previews that give away everything of the movie, leaving the audience with no surprises and a clear view of the plotline. The most recent example of this is the remake of the old horror classic, When a Stranger Calls. I really think they dropped the ball on this one. I knew of the movie, but honestly, I had only a vague recollection of its premise, and other people I knew, did not even know that much. I might have been interested in the movie, if the preview didn’t already give away the original movie’s shocking twist. Now anyone who might not have remembered the old movie, probably will and will stay away from it—at least, I will.
Anyway, that’s it for me. Until I have find something else that I can’t do and know too little about to criticize...
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