It is rare that I come across a trailer this bad. I doubt there is a single good thing I could say about it – the narrative is bland and overdone, the cinematics shown are horrendously amateur, and there exists no flow amongst the trailer’s segments. All this not to mention the fact that it spoils the film for the audience. Take a watch and then lets break down why this trailer is so bad:
Where on earth to begin….
First and foremost, the trailer does a terrible job selling the film as anything new, exciting, or creative. Hercules: The Legend Begins is a jumble of crudely attempted re-creations of scenes from popular films that came before. Specific moments are very clearly ripped-off from better movies:
- 2:06 = Gladiator
- 2:25 = Clash of the Titans (or Percy Jackson. Your pick.)
- 2:36 = 300 (almost word for word)
- 2:48 = Battlestar Galactica? (visually asymmetrical from the rest of the film)
- 2:51 = Sherlock Holmes (underground battle)
- 2:55 = Samson?
The whole thing reeks of imitation rather than creation and the trailer commits the sin of trying to sell me on this fact. Watching through it, the makers hoped I would see familiar scenes and assume that this film will be as fun and exciting as those ones were. In reality, I recognized moments from other films that I like and it inspired me to want to watch those films rather than this knock-off version of them.
Second, the cinematic quality of the trailer is extremely lacking. A good trailer sells me on either the stunning visuals I will be treated to, the incredible score that will stir up my heartstrings, or at the very least that the film will be something I have seen before but with some new twists and technical experiments. Think about a Romantic Comedy trailer: it usually does not boast the most technically impressive camera angles or unique perspectives, but it sells itself on the merits of knowing the genre cinematically and usually highlights itself with a quirky soundtrack to match its quirky characters.
With Hercules: The Legend Begins, the trailer not only shows that the film has nothing new to show us, it further displays very poor quality on the part of the filmmakers. Most of the shots appear grossly staged with obvious CG backgrounds and a lack of visual consistency throughout the film. Though I am a proponent of the aesthetics of digital cinema, this film clearly shows the great visual flaws that can occur when it is not used properly – the characters are cut out from their environment, the motion seems to be overly crisp (as if shot at 30 fps rather than 24), and a general disassociation of the elements in each frame. They do manage to pull off a few good looking shots but what is lacking is a consistency of that level of quality between each scene, and the trailer hurts the marketing of the film by highlighting this incongruity.
Further, I denounce whomever did the mix and score for this trailer. Honestly I would have let this work fade into the obscurity it deserves were it not for the ATROCIOUS mixing at the beginning. Watch the first battle sequence and tell me how many stock sounds you hear. The horses galloping, the arrows being fired. But the worst offender and the thing that drew my ire most clearly was that ridiculous marching loop used when the troops are advancing at 0:16. It shows a laziness in sound design that I have never seen, and it echos throughout the trailer: every sword clank, crowds clapping, horses galloping, water splash, crowd cheering, thunder storm, lightning strike, etc.
And worse, the audio for people speaking is never consistent with the previous shots. In particular, look at the jump between what should be a J-cut at 2:43 – 2:46. It demonstrates another issue I have with trailer-making called Quote-Chopping. In order to sell the viewer the story, the creators feel the need to create newer and more exciting quips than those actually found in the film by cutting and pasting two lines near each other so that they sound somewhat connected (for a positive example of this check out the one at 1:38 in the Coriolanus trailer). Hercules has some pretty egregious ones but worst of all the trailer builds its exposition on a painfully obvious splice (at 0:29). This tells me not only do the filmmakers not find the film’s script interesting enough to sell me on it, but that I too should not expect much from it.
One final note on the audio: special thanks to Garageband and MIDI for the soundtrack. Again, I found nothing new, nothing exciting in the score used for the film. It is grossly bastardized from the aforementioned films it is ripping off, and further it does so in a way that any Music Major could have replicated in their first few days of university. Simple and overly computerized music just adds another nail in the coffin of this trailer.
Third and lastly, the trailer suffers from a terrible case of segmentation. I believe anyone watching the trailer, trained in the art of narrative or not, can peg exactly where all of the different beats are without much difficulty. I say this because each chunk has its own style and lacks good transition between them. This is something I hark on with every trailer I examine: the key is to have a solid flow between everything you want to show the audience about the film. Hercules does this very poorly and thus my interest in the film suffers greatly.
Overall, I find there is nothing about this trailer (and I suspect the film behind it) that is inspired. The cinematics demonstrated are sub-par at best, the audio mix and score accompanying sound unprofessional and nigh-on stock, and the transitional flow between each story moment are horribly executed. Again, I will not even bother expositing how the trailer commits the mortal sin of spoiling the film up to the final turn, thus removing any need for me to actually see the movie. And further, though I am no Hercules expert, I do not believe anything in this film matches appropriately with the ancient Greek myth. Thus, I am forced to believe that yet again Hollywood producers are trying to push a film on an audience simply by putting a famous name at the front of a bland and uninspired story.
Simply, put it is incredible how badly this trailer is made and I can only suspect that the film it tries to sell me will be just as poorly constructed. I will not even stoop to the level of rating this trailer because it is so offensively bad. Thanks for reading and I will see you next time for more lessons in the Art of the Trailer.