A Detailed, In-depth Analysis of the New Black Panther Trailer

“They looked for it in South America
…but it was in Africa the whole time.”

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Let’s talk about Ticking Clocks

Today the new trailer arrived for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming war historical film, DUNKIRK, and it gives us an excellent opportunity to talk about the use of the ticking clock motif in trailers.  Check out the video below and then keep scrolling for the analysis.

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Justice League Trailer One – Analysis

On March 25th, 2017 the first trailer for DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE was released.  Have a look below and join me after the jump for some analysis of the trailer itself.

Overall, this trailer works well at teasing audience of the popcorn thrill-ride to come.  It lands punches, auditory and editorial. And it at least presents a decent look at the heroes we are all wanting to see.  Nothing really about the plot, but it is the first trailer so we can give it a pass.

The opening sequence follows the now standard Chris Nolan/Syncopy formula – insert shots, hard-cut-in before quickly fading to black, from one sequence over a swelling tone and ending with disembodied, cryptic voiceover line.  That leads into a 30 second sequence of re-introducing the heroes (notably assuming that we already know Wonder Woman).  At 1:05, the trailer kicks into gear and delivers the goods in three distinct sections ending at the title screen:

  • 1:05 – Initial and individual badassery
  • 1:28 – Levity, both in the “I’m rich” joke and the metaness of the music choice (see below)
  • 1:38 – “My turn” which leads to all of the heroes working together
  • 2:05 – Title screen

The pacing is quick, gives you just enough of a taste of each of the characters to be interested, and jumps right into the title sequence in a tight two minutes.  Normally I would think that runtime a bit long for a first trailer, but when balancing 5 heroes, it is an impressive feat.  And the tag at the end lands just right – reminding the audience they will have fun at this movie (a point DC needs to stress given their last two entries).

By way of conclusion, I want to examine three elements briefly that standout about this trailer:

  1. Song Choice – It is a campy choice to play up their DGR-ed version of “Come Together.”  On the nose doesn’t begin to describe it.  At least they avoided the double whammy by going with White Stripes’ under-utilized “The Hardest Button to Button” rather than “7 Nation Army.”  Clearly they are putting all their eggs in the pop music basket and hoping for the kind of momentum Suicide Squad got for it.
  2. The Football Shot – Every shot in this trailer seems to fit together EXCEPT for one at 1:43.  In the middle of a series of intense shots of heroes fighting the alien enemies, we cut to a guy running with a football.  I understand what this is a reference to and where it will likely fit in the story, but it does not BEGIN to work at this moment in the trailer.
  3. Aesthetics – Clearly DC learned from their mistakes in Suicide Squad and are removing ALL of the saturation from this film (*sarcasm*).  Doubling-down on the desaturated and dark color palette, this oddly means the brightest things on screen (the things which our eye is naturally drawn towards first) are Cyborg’s eye and Gal Gadot’s skin. Concerning.
  4. Lack of Superman – Unsurprising but still notable that they can cut around it.  Hopefully a good sign.

That’s it!  You can expect the next trailer to drop sometime around, say…June.  Probably attached to the Wonder Woman release.  Until then, let me know what you thought about this trailer – whether it will keep you interested in the DCEU or if it nailed the coffin shut on what has thus far been a trainwreck.  Thanks for joining me and keep on the lookout for more trailer analysis here at ART OF THE TRAILER.

How to Sell me a Third Helping when I’m Already Full

Below you will find an example of how a single teaser, done well, can revitalize a very dead franchise.  Check out the teaser for Cars 3 and join me after the jump for a breakdown of how this trailer works.

Right off the bat, the trailer takes a HUGE gamble.  The first 15 seconds of the teaser consist of quick shots intercut with ominous silence of cars going around the track.  Simply put, the images are not that engaging – invoking a scenario we have already seen in Cars 1.  During their first viewing, unless one is eagle-eyed, the viewer might miss the radically different visual tone of this trailer as compared to the cartoony aesthetic of the previous two films (cf- Cars, Cars 2). Before anything has a chance to happen, the teaser gives people an opportunity to eject.

Where the teaser shines is in its aural rhythm.  The pace accelerates and draws you in, commanding your attention despite potential preconceived notions about the franchise.  As the trailer hits that 0:18-second mark, an audible cue hints that things are about to kick off as the engine noise modulates into another key.  Our first real visual character is introduced: the new black racecar.  Its design is nothing like the staple Nascar vehicle the franchise has employed, so instinctually we begin asking questions and developing curiosity – exactly what the teaser wants.

Immediately following this destabilizing of our initial disinterest, the trailer connects us to the franchise, announcing “McQueen is fading! Fading fast!” while we see glances of the racecar’s frame.  By avoiding the car’s face – the most identifying image of the Cars franchise – the teaser maintains its darker tone (avoiding the cartoony expressions of the characters) and audience attention by constantly withholding the one thing we are now anxious to see.

With the swerve out of frame and the foreboding first note of the crash, we are left with 5 full seconds of blackness and 7 seconds of silence before we come to the climactic final shot of carnage.  And what Carnage!  We never even see Lightning hit the ground – just the viscera of metallic parts and sparks suspended in mid-air.  Such a departure from the goofy visuals and humor of the first two entries, this teaser demands the viewer take note of a radical stylistic departure that perhaps foretells a story worth waiting for.

Ultimately that is what makes this teaser great:  that it takes on a hostile audience and shifts their “hell no” to a “who knows, maybe”.  Simply by creating enough intrigue for the audience to at least wait and see, the trailer succeeds in its most primary function.  Regardless of whether the film turns out to be good or not, its viewership potential has certainly skyrocketed from the outset with this great start to its marketing campaign.

Tell me what you think of this teaser!  I, for one, love the first movie but was seriously turned off by the sequel.  For good or ill, I’m totally on board for Cars 3.  Thanks for reading and come back for more examination of the Art of the Trailer.

Brief postscript – note the current trend with teasers not bothering to show the actual title of the film they are teasing. Notable recent examples:  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2.

The Definition of the #DGRSong

The trailer for Gore Verbinski’s new film A Cure for Wellness has dropped and I want to define this once so I can just reference it in the future.

When you hear the following in a trailer:
  1. A pop/folk song
  2. Tempo slowed way down
  3. Set in a minor key for creepy/disturbing effect
These things put together when used as the backing track for a movie/game/whatever trailer – I am now officially labeling the “Dark Gritty Reboot Song” or #DGRSong
Other Examples:

If you aren’t yet convinced, check out this great article by ScreenCrush which includes a much larger collection of examples.



Thanks for the Early Warning

For all the bad rap M. Night Shyamalan has gotten over the past few years, at one point he was a very exciting director to watch.  His movies were tense, had great atmosphere, and played on simple fears that haunt us all.  However, recently he has gone a little bit…weird.  Most of his recent work is not worth examining, but this TV spot for his new film The Visit has one moment that I think prepares all of us for what is in store.  Watch until the end for the best moment in a trailer thus far this year. 🙂

PS – I apologize for any liquid propelled nostral-ly onto your screen.

Super-Preemptive Strike

CBS just released their first trailer for their new DC product, Supergirl.  I have some brief thoughts:

1.  This trailer is SIX minutes long.

2.  WOW that was a harsh strike for Feminism there!  “If you don’t like it, you are sexist and wrong and evil. Want to watch our show now?”  I understand what they are trying to do – get ahead of the genuine sexist nonsense guaranteed to come in wake of this release – but swinging this strongly this early compromises the trailer’s ability to market the show.  I don’t really want to watch this, for numerous reasons…and I should feel bad because of that?

3.  They kept the “it’s not an S” thing….

4.  Is this from Hallmark?  The emotional journey they try to take us on!  I’m all for a trailer being its own work of art, and for trailers telling their own stories.   But this?  This is too much – it feels pandery, trying to appeal to a presumed “Female Market” while showcasing enough action to keep male viewers interested.  It undercuts its effectiveness to all markets and further complicates the gender politics they are navigating.

5.  Despite all of my snark, I really do hope this succeeds.  I don’t care if the show lasts 20 seasons and spawns two movies, but I do want it to show Hollywood that people are willing to support content with female leads.  Happy for once to say DC is beating Marvel to the punch.