Tag Archives: Dark Knight Rises

Real Batman vs Superman Trailer Review

Now that my snarky first thoughts are out there and done, let’s take a look at this first trailer for the upcoming DC Justice League tentpole flick.  The trailer is already drawing some ire, but is that for the trailer itself or because of its association with the attached comic book properties?  Check out the trailer below and let’s really delve in after the jump.

It’s SO ANGSTY!!  This movie makes Romeo + Juliet look like a pair of rational adults discussing fourth quarter earnings around the watercooler.  It’s so dark and gritty – almost like that ought to be the two-word moniker for the tone of the DC movies in general, particularly the ones they are doing again.  #DGR

Serious breakdown time.  We start with the normal BWAM BWAM we’ve come to know and love from the Dark Knight and Man of Steel’s composer.  Starting at 0:10, we get seven seconds of monologue over a perfectly black screen.  It has become a pretty standard way of starting at trailer and it helps set the serious tone the film.

Let’s cut to the chase.  What makes this trailer interesting is the sound editing.  Snippets from several different conversations are cut together in a way that makes it flow like one consecutive monologue.  Particularly interesting is the overlaying of words at key moments to demonstrate the varied opinions on the otherworldly superhero.  A very neat effect, it definitely lends itself to a Youtube screening rather than one in a theater seat.  It seems to necessitate multiple consecutive viewings in order to understand what is being said, rather than a one-time experience in a theater shown before the content you really came to see.  Only by watching it several times can you get a good grasp on the interplay of the language, which seeing it in a cineplex just doesn’t allow for.  I feel like this might quietly prove to be the amongst the final straws for the death of the Cinema viewing of the trailer, and the rise to prominence of our culturally watching trailers online.  We will have to wait and see.

Back to the sound editing, it gives a very nice Spoken word feel – adding cadence to an otherwise boring set of shots.  The team did a great job building in the negation of the expected outcome of each sentence – “We are talking about a being/alien…” – that works to great effect.   It’s an interesting concept I haven’t seen executed before and I think it works rather well here.

Two more brief thoughts before we talk about the split.  The left/right mixing of the monologue is very cool.  Particularly towards the end (around 0:40), they split up lines from Luther (Eisenberg) which creates an audiotory shift, again giving movement to an otherwise simple shot.  Second, more of a potshot, the “False God” CG statue looks like its from Bioshock 1, and not a good way.

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Now let’s look at the second trailer.  This happens a lot in the modern trailer: the first minute is its own separate thing with goals and rhythms, and then there is a clear break into the second trailer for the latter minute and a half.  The deliniating moment for the BvS trailer is our man Zimmer’s plinking piano score (a concept pulled from the third Dark Knight Rises trailer).  The first half was a genuine teaser; the second is more of a trailer proper.

The main difference between the two halves is that the first focuses on an interesting audio mix, whereas the second relies more on the editing of footage (which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t).  Suddenly we are seeing many more shots and particularly some interesting juxtapositions of them creating new “third” scenes just for the trailer.  I’ll get to that in a second.

We start on a very long shot (nine seconds) of our first look at the new Bruce Wayne.  Admittedly, I’m not much of an Affleck fan, so to me this shot is held on way too long.  His eyes just look dead and he barely seems conscious, let alone engaged.  Yet, I can see what the trailer-makers are doing – they clearly focus on revealing the new Batman they have been teasing for months.  In that sense, fan-boys and girls I’m sure loved pouring over the new caped crusader in what might be his new Batcave.

And to this end, they then follow up with a great shot of the new suit – holding just about as long on it as they did on Clooney-fied Batfleck (six seconds).  Say what you will about the design, this was a smart choice by the marketing team to put up this new iteration of the iconic outfit for your visual perusal.

From there we get into some shots that telegraph the film’s visual tone (Batman in the Destroyed museum), some new Bat-tech (which is remarkably explodey in this new universe), and a couple of nice pandering shots of our dearly beloved Dark Knight.  Then we get into the final act of the trailer which again shows some very smart decisions from the Trailer team.

We start with the reveal of Iron Monger Batman, in a “scene” which I believe is chopped up from other scenes, or at the very least is not the climatic moment before the big battle.  It looks like they took a sequence where the two talk things out, add over the lines about “Do you bleed?”, and made it seem like the ultimate showdown moment.  I love recontextualized moments like this, ones that after you see the movie and come back to the trailer, realize they gave you some important information but still kept some elements from you so the scene would still be surprising and new in the theaters.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I cannot wait to see where those shots actually feature in the final product.

Next we get the new Batvoice and, before you or I make any comment about how silly it is, let’s look at the function served by putting it in this trailer.  Of course the composers of this trailer knew it would stir up controversy, of course Zack Snyder knew he was taking a risk making the new voice similar to but different from the Nolan/Bale creation, but that is exactly why it debuts here.  Remember Bane from the Dark Knight Rises teaser?  They put it out early to get feedback on it and thus make changes before the final product is put out.  The masses spoke and declared Bane’s voice hard to make out, so Nolan and Co. went back to the mixing room and tweaked it to make it a bit more palatable.  JJ Abrams is doing the same thing with the cross-guard lightsaber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (trailer review pending, I promise).  Smart marketers and filmmakers use trailers for these big properties to test out new ideas and bounce them against the audience to make changes before release day.  It’s a smart move and one you should be on the look out for; I expect it will happen more and more in the future.

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And thus we end on the logo, with the Superman symbol getting overshadowed by the Bat-signal (metaphor for cultural popularity and public opinion, mayhaps?) and the title screen.  Overall, this is a very effective first trailer.  Yes, we all have a lot of thoughts about the dark, gritty tone, the silly new voice, and Ben Affleck’s acting abilities.

But ultimately that is exactly what this trailer is about – it is meant to drum up as much buzz about the film as it can, while trying to garner some genuine feedback for the production team to make last minute adjustments before release.  Imagine if the first trailer for the Phantom Menace had highlighted how big a role Jar Jar would have, and if there had been the system and culture of social media feedback.  Think about how different the prequels might have been.  I am loving the wonderful development occurring where feedback on a trailer can affect how a movie ultimately ends up.  It means people are finally beginning to recognize and appreciate what a trailer can be and how to recognize good ones from bad ones.

Whether the film will be any good remains to be seen.  But for me, it will be seen because this trailer is making all the right moves to get people talking about the film and drum up some buzz for the DC Cineverse.  If nothing else, I’m glad it doesn’t use music from freaking Pinocchio.  Seriously Marvel.  So dumb.


How to make me HATE your Movie in less than 5 Seconds

….I seriously wish this wasn’t a real thing.  #WhyReboot
Watch the thing, then read the thing.

Why? Why!?  Why can we not go two years without some production company thinking “you know, people kinda liked that superhero movie we made.  Let’s make it again!!!  But this time, let’s make it dark and gritty!”

Despite my bias against the thought of this film, all it took was the first note to sing this trailer.  The melancholy minor sustained note arrives before the 20th Century Fox logo, instantly painting a picture of what we were in for.  Go back and watch the first trailer for the Dark Knight Rises or the one for Man of Steel.  This trailer, before it had ever shown me any footage, had let me know that it was ripping off that former piece, but with the noted difference that people were not falling all over themselves to see it.  The moody narration over a minor composition works well when the demand is very high (it plays off of the rabid fervor leading up to the trailer, and the hush that falls as it starts).  It does not work for something for which mass audiences are not clammoring.

Looking beyond the disappointing first 5 seconds, the following twenty showcase filler.  Not pretty filler like the Tree of Life trailer; just boring, mismatched shots of the world they want me to believe in.  The problem here is juxtaposition – they show us metropolis followed by wilderness, the heavens of space followed by the earthiness of a cornfield.  It’s the visual equivalent of stuttering around your logline: “Well it’s kinda ethereal, but it’s very down-to-earth! It’s about life in the city, and about the joys of rural life!”  This leaves the audience with nothing; you’ve covered all of the bases so I have no clue what to expect.  The Tree of Life trailer at least opens with fascinating shots of space/colors that tell me that I’m in for something heady and artsy.

Without clear established direction, the trailer rambles on through the tropes of a modern, moody hero piece.  The first pertinent shot comes at 0:25 of the boy running an experiment (clearly laying out a theme throughout the movie).  We are introduced to our protagonists through slowed walking shots or approach shots.  Hard audio and editing cuts on visual cues (the hatches closing).  The visual color scheme changes as the narration turns to talk about “risk”.  We get a shot stolen from Dark Knight Rises.  The music beats swell and the cutting gets faster as we draw to the end.  Cut off of action to the title card.  The end.  Fox thinks I care already and builds their trailer on that assumption.  I don’t.

Two major gripes with this package.  First, WHO CARES!?!?!!??!?!  Last I checked, the Fantastic Four were not at the top of culture’s list of heroes we love and want to see more of.  Moreover, this marks the fourth reboot of a major comicbook cinematic property in recent years (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four).  It’s like Marvel is specifically trying to oversaturate its own market FASTER!  This is an uncalled-for trailer for an uncalled-for movie.

Second, this isn’t Interstellar, despite how hard it tries to sell itself like that film.  The dark, moody tone is now a joke to society – it’s as if the producers just now saw the Dark Knight, read up on the hype it created, and then decided to try and capitalize in today’s market.  The trailer sells us on a more serious undertaking of the plot (which I can get in CW’s The Flash currently) and on hokey casting.  Unless Richard Reed whips out some drumsticks and launches into a solo in the middle of fight, or Sue Storm writes a scathing political article for a magazine, I doubt I will care about these de-aged heroes.

And I focus on those two because the trailer does.  Clearly the makers of the trailer wanted a stunning reveal that one of the four has been recast as black (according to IMDB, he’s the Human Torch), but that falls flat when the trailer itself doesn’t focus on him for the remainder of its runtime.  The two star-power white heroes hog all the screentime in which they aren’t wearing their helmets.  Just an observation.

Ultimately, “What is coming?”.  Well, we are in for another superhero flick that is just like the rest.  Marvel thinks it can expect us to throw our money at because NOSTALGIA!!!  Please don’t watch this.  Go watch the original films.  Yeah they were cartoon-y and a bit ridiculous, but so are the Fantastic Four.  In the world of dark, gritty characters in the superhero genre, the Four do not make the grade.  They preserve the campy joy of the silver age, and that’s where I’d prefer to leave them.


Golden Trailer Award Predictions

Yes, they do in fact have awards for that!  The Golden Trailer Awards are the Oscars for film marketing and the top prize is highly sought after.  Previous winners include: Inception, Social Network, Starcraft II.  I know most people won’t even notice it’s passing, but the 13th Annual Golden Trailer Awards will be announced on May 31st.

Much like I did for the Oscars on my other blog, I will be listing all of the Nominations below for each of the big 16 awards (there are nearly a hundred technical awards which I won’t be going through).  Each nominee will be linked to youtube so you can see each one and my predicted winner will be the video posted underneath.  When the awards are given out, I will be highlighting each winner in red text so you can compare how I did.

So without further delay – My Predictions for the 2012 Golden Trailer Awards!

Best Action Nominees:  Miss

Best Animation/Family Nominees:  Correct

Best Comedy Nominees:  Correct

Best Documentary Nominees:  Miss

Best Drama Nominees:  Correct

Best Horror Nominees:  Miss

Best Independent Nominees:  Miss

Best Music Nominees:  Miss

Best Romance Nominees:  Correct

Best Thriller Nominees:  Miss

Best Video Game Trailer Nominees:  Correct

The Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice Over Nominees:  Miss

Golden Fleece Nominees:  Miss
(best trailer for a terrible movie)

Most Original Trailer Nominees:  Miss

Summer 2012 Blockbuster Trailer Nominees:  Correct

Trashiest Trailer Nominees:  Miss
(be warned these have questionable content)

Well there you have it folks!  Be sure to check back on June 1st to see who won!  Let me know who you think will win each award and what you think of my picks!  Until next time, thanks for tuning in to the Art of the Trailer!

**UPDATE**

Well if I have learned one thing, it is that the Golden Trailer people and I don’t see eye to eye on everything.  I went  6 for 16 in the end which is not at all how I expected to do.

The main challenge I had in making my picks was trying to find the balance of the quality of the trailer itself versus the film behind it.  For example, I thought that the trailer for Apollo 18 was not all that bad.  I have mentioned my issues with the marketing of John Carter on this blog before and so when I saw that trailer was on the list it was a no-brainer.  However, there clearly was some amount of brain involved because somebody thought it was better than Apollo’s so I guess I must concede that.

I am really sad to see that “Pig with the Froggy Tattoo” didn’t win anything, and not just because it made me wrong on several picks.  I genuinely thought it was one of the funniest and best made trailers of this past year and I know that it certainly built the hype of the Muppet film for me.  However, when I picked it for most original trailer, I knew that it was likely to fail simply because it was a parody of another trailer (which I did correctly predict) so again, I can see where I went wrong there.

Final thoughts:  OF COURSE DARK KNIGHT RISES WON!!!!!
I can’t believe that Snow White and the Huntsman took Best Action Trailer.  It isn’t as intense as some of the others and it doesn’t sell itself as an action film.  More action-y than Mirror Mirror perhaps but not as much as GIJoe: Retribution.

Well it was fun, I learned a lot and I can’t wait until next year to see if I can’t pass the 50% mark on my 2013 Golden Trailer Award Predictions!

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Elation in 2 minutes 19 seconds

This is how a trailer should be done!  Check out this brand new trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:

What this trailer gets right is pacing and poignancy.  For class, I just wrote a paper about why the marketing for Disney’s epic flop John Carter failed — people don’t know who John Carter is (I plan to publish this here soon).  That problem is completely absent here.  Note that not once are the words “Batman”, “Catwoman”, or “Bane” used in the trailer.  It is because we know exactly what this is.  All the marketers have to do is show a silhouetted Bat-symbol for 10,000 screaming fans (and myself) to come running.  The trailer plays off that fan-base knowledge and excitement beautifully, showing us everything we need to see, touching briefly on each and every character, and then ending with a twist and a bang.

The subtle tension of silence surrounded by chaos was a magnificent choice. Just like the first trailer, the stakes are instantly set high and my attention is devoted to catching any glimpse of exactly how awesome this movie is going to be.  Also, the pacing was spectacular!   It feels like a horror film, painstakingly long while the tension is impossibly high.  Check out the shot about halfway through where the bridge falls.  That shot seems to take forever and you sit there wondering what is going to happen and then BAM!  Bridge is down and you are on the edge of your seat riveted for the next minute of the trailer.  Marvelous job by the marketing team and I think it safe to say that this is where the bar is set for the next generation of Movie Marketing.

One final note:  it seems that they have “fixed’ Bane’s voice.  While I miss some of the gravelly evil his old voice had, I do like that understanding him the first time was a cinch.  Ultimately, I think they made the right call in altering his voice to give audiences a break from Christian Bale’s growl and Gary Oldman’s death rattle.

I said it before and I say it again now – this is what movie marketing is all about.  Out less than 24 hours, the internet has exploded in buzz about this ridiculously amazing new trailer.  And the film doesn’t come out until JULY!!!  Well, until the 19th when I will be huddled outside an IMAX theatre waiting the last few hours for the cinematic world to end, at least I can play this trailer over and over again and think about how much Ritalin to avoid a heart attack at the premiere. 🙂

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Dark Knight Rises, Fool!

Before we begin, please check out the trailer for – The Dark Knight Rises – and come back for thoughts and commentary. And if you haven’t already, please check out all of my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2.

I was so excited to see the first teaser for this film before the final Harry Potter film. It caught me entirely off guard which made the revelation of what it was all the better.  I absolutely LOVE this trailer – it’s fresh, it’s furiously intense, it is beautiful!  I am so excited for the film, so let’s get to the trailer review!

First, it is important to note what we, the audience, know going into seeing this.  For the casual fan of the series, this comes off as the follow-up to the masterpiece that was The Dark Knight – with Gordon in trouble, Batman in hiding and some new creepy guy (who looks a bit like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat) terrorizing the town.

For the slightly-more-than-casual fan, a whole microcosm of insanity starts whirling in their head the moment they see the second text on screen: “Every Journey has an End”.  Those who have followed the Batman series (or those who have been in contact with a devoted fan) know that the creepy guy is Bane, a technologically enhanced human killing machine. And they know that it is he who brings about the demise of Bruce Wayne (ie – Batman).  In the 1990’s comic series “Knightfall”, Batman takes on Bane in an epic battle which comes to an end when Bane cracks Batman’s back. *Alliteration!*  According to the comics this paralyzed Bruce Wayne who had to turn over his Dark Knight role to Dick Greyson, the first Robin.

All of this via Wikipedia btw 🙂

SO – when I heard about the direction of this movie, knowing what I did about the Bane-Batman fight, I got really excited!!!  Perhaps for once a director would be willing to take us to that place with a superhero (no surprise that it would be Nolan doing it).  We have gotten just about every angle of the Superhero story by now and it is time for something new….like a protagonist’s “death”.  In other words I already thought this film had amazing potential and then this trailer came out…

I want to start with the end first actually.  My favorite part of this whole trailer is the title slide – it is bold and new, yet simple and elegant.  Nolan simply switched up the colors and did something amazing.  Again please remember that I was watching this on IMAX so the screen was massive as was everything on it.  My anticipation is building to fever pitch when the screen goes into brilliant white and the words “The Dark Knight Rises” fade onto the screen.  The simplicity of switching the colors made this title card, which for all other purposes was extremely dull, a beautiful and exciting revelation.  It was bold, as the film are, and unexpected, like it’s predecessor, Simply amazing.

Now that I have mentioned that, let’s turn to following the thing from the beginning.  And of the beginning let me say this:  I have rarely been so excited to see a logo as I was to see the WB with the blue flames.  I love that choice because instantly I sat upright in my chair saying to myself, “No…it can’t be….is this?….”  The semi-familiar blue flames from the Dark Knight was a great way to kick this trailer off because it is a teaser in of itself – you both recognize them and yet still have a moment of wonder as to whether they really are what you think they are.  Again, really loved them and I got so excited when I saw them.  Kudos, WB 🙂

Okay. While I love this trailer, I do have a beef with whoever animated those damn buildings.  Seriously?!  I am hoping that I will hear any day now that the trailer was rushed into production so that it could be matched with the HP7.2 release and that the animation won’t look that bad in the movie.  When I saw it the first time I thought, “Wow that doesn’t look so hot” and it is only after having thought it out know that I recognize that the buildings are more reminiscent of the new Arkham City video game than of a Hollywood blockbuster.  It serves it’s purpose but it doesn’t look good doing so.  That however is my only beef with the teaser, and I move on to more positive thoughts.

I love how the artist of this trailer starts with old footage and a monologue that, unless I am mistaken, comes from Ra’s al Ghul in movie 1.  The first couple of shots being throw-backs to Begins (Bruce walking in the mountains, Standing in the cave) works very well with that. And I love how it progresses to the final shot of the Dark Knight just before the halfway point of the trailer.  Again it is a nice call-back and creates a great flow for the trailer so that 30 seconds in we are caught up with what has happened and are eagerly anticipating what is too come.

Now, my favorite part of the trailer I have already mentioned (the title card) and much of the reason I love it is because of the marvelous crafting of the text slides that come before it.

“Every Hero has a Journey”
“Every Journey has an End”
“The Epic Conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend”

Again, Nolan plays this element so perfectly in that fans will be falling all over themselves with excitement about the film potentially following canon with the comics, while non-nerds get a similar excitement simply from the fact that something is ending.  It was a great choice to pair this with HP7.2 because both are banking (thank God!) on the fact that this is the END – there is no more after this.  In Hollywood world, which is currently rebooting a 2002 series, this is an incredibly NOVEL IDEA!!!!  🙂

The words and the phrasing are just fantastic.  You get an A-B  B-C pattern in the first two which creates a nice symmetry and flow, and the final card just throws more gas on the question-mark fire over whether this will be the end of Bruce Wayne or not.  They are beautiful, elegant, devilishly simple, and incredibly effective at stirring one’s heart to curiousity.

The second half of the trailer (0:42 – 1:39) handles the material in a very interesting manner.  First of all, it isn’t until after the Title card that we see the Dark Knight for whom the movie is titled.  We see Commissioner Gordon on his apparent deathbed, rasping for breath and explaining to some mysterious figure that the Batman must return to save Gotham.  Their is currently a debate going on about whether or not he is talking to Batman there or if perhaps he is speaking directly to Bruce Wayne, as the voice speaking back is not clearly one or the other.  Personally I don’t think he is talking to either there but we shall see.

We get some nice flashes of Bruce training and a very quick shot at Bane while the Cityscape is coming together to form the Bat logo.  Again it is a nice touch, the city forming the logo, but the animation still is just woefully subpar for what I assume it should be.  The monologue by Gordon is excellent – both in performance and in its building ramp of excitement and urgency.  In fact the whole trailer has a nice beat to it that ramps the anticipation very well.  The ending was a bit odd, with the scene and text card after the Title, but it again it puts that thought in our minds that this is the CONCLUSION.  All in all I thought it was wonderfully paced and it did its job very well.

One final thought on it:  I really liked the music.  While it is pretty standard-Nolan for the majority (or maybe I should say standard-Zimmer) it really shines when the Title Card comes up.  I love the chanting!!!  It makes it so guteral and intense – almost implying that the world is against Batman.  It reminds me of a bullfight or a cage match crowd crying out some war chant to psych themselves up. Really interesting and I am looking forward to another great Zimmer soundtrack.

So there you go!!!  A day late but never a dollar short! 😉  Hope you enjoyed this review and please let me know what you think in the comments below!  And please let me know what you would like to see me review!  Next week I will be getting back to the Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows trailer, as suggested by my brother.

My Sunday post might also by late (as we are traveling back then) but I promise that you don’t want to miss it.
Thanks for sticking with me and have a marv-u-lo-tastic-al weekend!!!

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Sorry Guys :(

I am right now on the road to west Tennessee and a family reunion. Thus I am not going to be able to post my review of the Dark Knight Rises trailer. If I can I will get it up tonight but if not I will definitely try to get it on the Art of the Trailer tomorrow. Thanks for sticking with me and be looking forward to the review! Bye!