Everyone knows a new Star Wars movie has just come out. We’ve all seen the trailers – even if you didn’t want to see them. A teaser for the film emerged years ago – showing a few seconds of action that fuelled the fire of publicity around the most anticipated movie event of 2015. That first trailer showed the Millennium Falcon flying low over some stormtroopers. It looked great – far more “real” than the CGI of the prequels. The trailer only lasted about thirty seconds – but it started a debate about it on social media, which was the purpose of making the trailer.
Unfortunately, that trailer also did something else.
It revealed clues to the plot for anyone not wanting to know what happens before they watched the movie.
Since then, more and more Star Wars trailers have appeared, showing teaser clips from the film. I didn’t want to see them. I did try to avoid them because I didn’t want them to ruin the film for me – but I couldn’t avoid seeing tiny bits of the movie in ads, promo clips and merchandising. I’ve inadvertently seen enough trailer clips to make me feel as if I’d already watched the movie before it was released. Aaaaarrgh!
I remember watching the original Star Wars and loving it because I didn’t know what would happen next because I hadn’t seen a single trailer. I also enjoyed The Empire Strikes Back’s shocking twist because it had not been spoiled for me – but imagine what would happen today if those movies were new.
(Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the original movies, don’t read this.)
Six months before Star Wars: A New Hope came out in the cinemas, you’d see a trailer showing:
Luke Skywalker finding out his father was a Jedi.
Han Solo shooting that green alien dude.
Darth Vader defeating Obi Wan Kenobi.
Luke firing his missile into the Death Star.
The Death Star blowing up.
I wish the makers of movies would stop making spoiler trailers. To me, a trailer should only hint at the plot. It should just tell you the important things – like the genre, the writer, the director and (maybe) if a good actor is in it. A bad trailer is a trailer that gives away the plot in any way. The worst trailers tell you the whole story like a synopsis, usually spoken in a gravelly voice: “Ken Smith is a young and ambitious lawyer working for a corporation secretly owned by a vampire. When Ken finds out that vampire is his father, Ken soon realises he will have to form his own army and fight his father. Once he had done that, Ken falls in love with Sarah, but she is a werewolf planning to turn him into her slave. Luckily, she fails. The end.”
I can think of only a few excellent trailers. I admired the trailer for the movie Leon. It didn’t give away anything – but it set the scene and created a mood. It showed some guys with guns going into a seedy apartment building. It didn’t explain what they were doing – but it tantalised and made you wonder. It showed the movie was a crime story with action – but it didn’t show you anything else.
Another good trailer was for Jurassic Park. It showed no actual footage from the movie. It was designed to whet the appetite – but not give away anything else.
Bad trailers do some or all of the following:
They tell you the entire plot.
They show the end.
They show all of the exciting bits.
They show the best jokes out of context.
They ruin every twist.
They compare the film with something much better, guaranteeing disappointment.
They call it the best movie of the year so far – on January 1st.
They say it’s from the producers of a great movie that won twenty Oscars, but don’t tell you they did nothing apart from sign a cheque for it to be made.
Frankly, I’d like trailers only to tell you the minimum information required – just enough to let you know about its release. Then it would be up to me if I wanted to find out more.
I don’t want to pay money to watch a film that gives me deja vu.