Tag Archives: Pixar

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.


From the Inside IN!

It’s finally here!!!  Our first real look at the next Pixar project – the literal emotionally driven Inside Out.  Today we got the first teaser for the 2015 project and it is wonderfully crafted.  Check out the teaser below and then after the jump we’ll talk about what works so well about this.

Disney have tapped a vein in the American subconscious, both pulling from our collective experiences and pumping heartwarming narratives based on these universal life moments back in.  This trailer harkens back to my favorite trailer – the first Teaser for WallE – taking the viewer on a journey through the long history of touching pictures put out by the 3D animation giant.  However, the true brilliance here is how well this nostalgia trip is integrated into a marketing narrative, introducing us to this next project and creating cognitive connections to the joys experienced in their previous work with the promise of similar emotional payoffs here.  By doing so, Disney•Pixar show off what they do best – reminding us of the childhood wonders they have provided and promising to bring it all back even as we grow older.

Aside from the marvelous plotting of the teaser, I love the use of Color!  From the outset, they begin planting the aesthetic seeds of the film’s design.  I love the nothing-like-subtle coloring of the texts, and the payoff they have in the characters at the end.

Mainly, though, what I love about this trailer is that it spends its time building on what we know and love, and then lovingly teases what we can expect in Inside Out.  Only half of the trailer is devoted to the characters, though we do get a lovely brief introduction to their personalities which perfectly piques our interest.  The plot is not mentioned, nor is the setting beyond the zoom in on the girl’s head.  It gives us just a taste and lets our imaginations run wild.

I, for one, know exactly where I will be June 19th of 2015 – happily seated in a theater nearby preparing to enjoy this latest product from Pixar.  Their work remains strong, and this trailer does nothing but get me excited for the film.  Disney is a master of its craft and I cannot wait to see them do what they do best, even if it costs a year without a Pixar flick.

Rather Timid Actually….

Here it is!  At least four weeks late but worth every second I spent not writing it. 🙂  A lot of people are very psyched up for the coming attraction from that great Pot of Gold that is Pixar, particularly as it is the first film of theirs to feature a female director. But honestly after watching this trailer, I have to say I am worried about what direction they are taking it.  At least from this small sampling, I can see a few problems that make me anxious about the film overall, but you be the judge. Without further delay, enjoy this trailer for Pixar’s upcoming feature:  Brave.

First and foremost, let me clarify that I thought this was a decent trailer.  I just feel that the source material makes for some tough stuff to work with.  Anyway, let’s get into the analysis.

I absolutley lost it in the very first few seconds. I recognized the voice of the father figure, giving a terrifying and ominous tale of his adventures, and all I could think of was this (link). 🙂  That’s right!  Ol’ Captain Billy Bones himself, right out of Muppet Treasure Island!  And, while I’m on the subject, let me take this opportunity to shamelessly plug my recent review of The Muppets over on the Soontobeangel blog.

Basically I would say that the first 40 seconds were absolutely fantastic.  It was a gripping and engaging teaser for what looked to be a dark and serious story, which is a genre that has been almost entirely absent in the world of animation (save a few artistic French films and, to a degree, Miyazaki’s work).  That is a film I would pay serious money to go see – animated Braveheart with a warrior-chick protagonist.  All they had to do was add in a really macabre laugh right after the jump to black and then slowly bring up the title and we all would have been sold (expect for mothers of kids 10 and under).  Personal preference, I know, but let me get to that shortly.

The rest of the trailer consists of showing us most of Act One and the turn to Act two, along with nearly every good joke in between.  There are some really funny things in there but yet again we end up seeing quite a lot of the movie before we actually go see it.  What I will credit the trailer’s makers with is the choice to reveal a lot of the beginning and leave most of the tail end of the film off.  Though we see too much in the trailer, we see too much exposition and not too much of the entire story, so kudos to them for that.

At 1:21 we get an express statement of the central question: “Are you willing to pay the price (for your ‘freedom’ from your culturally-held role in society)?”  And that is exactly what is potentially very wrong about the film.  The trailer gives us a glimpse at the fact that this film is going to be trying to blend several serious issues with the typical Disney slapstick, which I really don’t think works.  That mix of silliness and seriousness seems very odd to me.  We alternately get a vision of a strong, independent young woman and a series of rather pathetically crass jokes very typical of Disney.  It bothers me that they have such potential to negotiate gender roles (and in a foreign culture no less!) and instead they choose to fall back into the comedic and stereotypical images of people they are so infamous for. Instead of a woman able to advance as an individual we get a Kilt joke and silly bears.

By the way, that was my least favorite part of the trailer.  Yes, of course the three little bear cubs are incredibly cute and you just want to take them home and treat them like a stuffed animal, but that whole sequence just stands to show exactly what I mean about the film neglecting seriousness potential in favor of cheap jokes.  And what’s worse – the woman doesn’t even react when she runs into the wall!  She just has this dumb “I am a bit character and you just saw the entirety of my purpose in this film” look about her and I cringe a little inside because it could have been so much more!  Again I will say that it works well in the trailer, but I suspect that it will fall very flat in the actual movie.

Okay.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I like this trailer – it is funny and cute and makes me want to see the film. What worries me is that I see a real struggle of genres and motifs in the trailer that make me anxious about how the film will play out.  Not to be rude, but didn’t we already have a silly viking/old world, coming-of-age-story film (How to Train Your Dragon)?  The mix of seriousness and silliness is a bit much, so I don’t really know what to expect. “If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?” – that kind of question being asked along with negotiation of women’s rights and empowerment, yet we get silly Scottish people. Honestly I feel like this is what happens when Skyrim meets Tangled — and I am really not sure that it works.

Final Rating:  3.5//5

Yup!  Thus ends my Celtic Review Extravaganza!  Not so extravagant, I know but as you can see we had a beautiful juxtaposition of good and bad storytelling, or at least of the good and questionable.  Anyway, I really hope the film comes out well as I would hate to see Pixar fall from that pinnacle of the Animated world, though with films like The Secret of Kells (link to review), I might just be willing to let that happen.  I definitely plan to go see it when it debuts in theaters but I must say I will be going in with a lot of apprehension.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Next week I will be taking a hack at the trailer for Illumination Entertainment’s latest picture:  The Lorax.  I have to admit that as a kid the story freaked me out quite a bit, so I think it will be really interesting to revisit it now that I have grown up a bit.  So, join me next Friday for another Art of the Trailer!

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HP 7pt2 and Sequel-itis (w/ emoticons)

To begin, please check out the trailer at this link – Harry Potter 7 pt.2 – then come back for commentary. And if you haven’t already, check out my full review of Part 1 at the Soontobeangel blog.

0:09 –> ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!!!!!!!!  (*-*)
0:12 –>  OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH!!!!!!!!  (^-^)
0:15 –> OHMYMOTHERBLEEPINGGOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!  <(^o^)>

I must say that I had purposefully cut myself off from Harry Potter film news recently because the my experience with the first film was partially spoiled by my full knowledge of it prior to the release.  I had been following Mugglenet and Mugglecast, which gave me every detail of Part 1 – from where the split was to news about the minor changes in the story.  Ultimately my experience was less because it was just fulfilling what I already knew – like playing a video game you have already seen a playthrough of.  But I digress…

The first time I saw this trailer was before Super 8, just three weeks away from the end of a series which has defined a generation. I have been with Jo and all the Potterites since the release of book 4 and have loved watching how it has shaped literature for my and later generations.  Anyway, when the trailer came up I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder that was diluted slightly by the knowledge that this is the end of a big part of my life. But again I digress and will now return to analysis of the trailer.

This trailer is tailor-made for fans like me – people who have followed the series from the beginning. I love that they open with Snape, as he does become a major part of this final installment. Also, the way that the creator of this trailer uses music is magical (pun intended). The times I mentioned above fit in exactly with how I felt as I was watching it the first time. It again plays right into the longtime fans and reminds us that this is going to be big! The sequence of images in the first 20 seconds just gets us in the mood and reminds us of the darker tone of the final part.

Next we get into the meat and taters of it.  I like that the first image after the WB logo matches the final image of Part 1 at Shell Cottage. It is a nice bridge. Also the use of the monologue from the final battle (Voldy’s challenge to Harry) really fits well, setting the tone again and the natural Ramp of it works magnificently for the style of a trailer. By the 37th second, it moves into the “epic portion” showcasing the Gringott’s break-in and the music picks up to goosebump raising levels.

The text on screen again plays well with the epicness of the music and the target audience of fans: “On July 15 only one can live”. Another important point is that if you look carefully, they artistically designed it so that Voldemort and crew are shown in dark blues and greens whereas HP and friends are in a lighter orangy brown.  This visually separates the two and makes the conflict more apparent.

Battle scenes and fighting sets up that final battle – which shows a nice linear flow of the trailer following the story’s plot. Probably my favorite part of the whole trailer comes at 0:57 – when Ron says “We can end this”. Amazing. I felt it. Any Potter fan felt it. WE can end this. WE.

A few final notes on the trailer:

  1. When the music hits its peak…and we see Tonks reaching for Lupin’s hand…. (;_;) Crying.
  2. To all you who have been there through the whole thing, from start to finish, “Let’s finish this the way we started it. TOGETHER!”
  3. THE EPIC CONCLUSION (w/ accompanying EPIC music)
  4. I dont think it shows too much because we know what is coming. It just pumps us up for it.
  5. Complete the Journey 😀

So with that #4, I lead into a short bit about Sequels. This film in particular is not, repeat NOT, targeted at people who haven’t at least seen the films, if not read the books as well. Because this is not just a sequel but one of the first Part 2’s in the history of film (I mean an intentionally split film). Thus, the advertisers know that people who haven’t been following the series will NOT be going to the premiere.  They aren’t going to fight the diehard’s dressed in wizarding garb to see it first. Thus they target us – the weirdo’s…I mean Wizards and Witches!

In the same way, trailers for sequels to movies and video games have to balance between pandering to the longtime fans and trying to entice those who haven’t yet joined the party. Harry Potter 7 part 2 knows exactly who they are targeting and makes a spectacular trailer.  I am pumped and ready for it, despite me anxiety over the end of my childhood series.  Good job guys. Good job.

FINAL SCORE:   ★★★★★

There you go. And now for a surprise bonus trailer!! Here is Disney•Pixar’s BRAVE. Absolutely love it. Has an excellent pace and I love that it feels like it contains its own story. The introduction of the Scottish element was handled well and I loved that they let the monologue lead to the title rather than divulge it. Only drawback here is that the animation doesn’t stand out as much as previous Pixar film did, from Dreamworks particularly. So I think they are going to have to sell this one on story rather than on looks. Just a thought. Really excited about it!`

Thanks for sticking with me and please check out my full review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 at the Soontobeangel blog.  Please let me know what you would like to see me review in the comments below. Next week I will be turning to another sequel, suggested by my brother:

Sherlock Holmes – Game of Shadows

Thanks again to him for actually suggesting a trailer. (HINT*HINT)  Please let me know what trailer you would like me to analyze and I will do it. So with that thanks again and go enjoy the final film in the greatest film franchise of all time. 🙂

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