It seems like every week another classic film is being pushed into theaters and jumping at us in the third dimension. How are studios trying to shove the nostalgia in our faces? Cinemanauts Bill and John discuss how a couple of flicks they know a thing or two about are being pitched to today’s audiences decades later.
Bill: Hey John.
John: Hello Bill.
Bill: Before this has a chance to get too vaudevillian, how’s about we watch the original theatrical trailer for Jurassic Park?
John: Yes, let’s.
Bill: Wow, right off the bat, 8-year-old me is sold. Though that voiceover seems a little too positive for a movie with bloody arm stumps and electrocuted children. You’ve previously talked about how this trailer transitions from wonder to terror, but I feel like the voiceover guy is a few scenes too late. He’s still talking about a majestic adventure when the lizards are looking for dinner.
John: I disagree. His line ”The most phenomenal discovery of our time becomes the greatest adventure of all time” is spoken over images of hatching eggs, galloping Gallimimus, and an awed Sam Neill. Only upon the completion of that goofy spiel do things get ominous, with Sam Jackson warning us to “hold onto our butts,” a lumbering T-Rex, and a mention of Steven Spielberg (probably to remind us that this is the man who makes scary shark movies).
Bill: But he’s also the man who made E.T. I think Spielberg has one foot in the “scary” bucket and the other in the “wonder” bucket. This trailer was trying to sell us both buckets. It actually reminds me of Super 8, which had no idea whether to hype that alien as scary or friendly, so they tried to do both because it was a Spielberg throwback. It ultimately failed in Super 8, but that contrast clicks into place for the themes of Jurassic Park. The whole island was made to sell wonderment, but eeevil science had other plans. It’s super effective.
John: It is. And based on this trailer I’d buy both buckets. Actually, it seems like those two emotions are about all the trailer sells us. It says, “Come see the beautiful dinosaurs, but beware those deadly dinosaurs.” Any interesting characters in this movie? “Phhhhh. There are some people who get chased around, and maybe eaten… by dinosaurs!”
Bill: Yay! Eat the people! Here come the scary raptors, as Mr. Voiceover grandly claims: “An adventure 65 million years in the making.” That was a huge tagline. I think Can’t Hardly Wait ripped that off. “A party 18 years in the making,” or something like that. I wonder if that tagline makes it into the 3D trailer for Jurassic Park, as much as I’d rather watch the trailer for Can’t Hardly Wait right now.
John: Yes, let’s sneak a peek at the JP3D trailer (which I hope refrains from using the abbreviation JP3D).
Bill: Wait, who the fuck– is anyone actually saying that? JP3D? I can’t (hardly) wait for ID43D. Okay, trailer time.
John: This entire trailer is obscenely over-dramatic. I never knew that excavating fossils, or Richard Attenborough walking into a building, could be so intense. Then, just when it looks like it’s over, the corny CG logo jumps out to remind us that this is in 3D. I wonder, will the T-Rex pop right out of the jeep’s mirror and into the audience?
Bill: John, I’d really like to address whatever you just said, but was that “Carol of the Bells” at the end?
John: Well, shit.
John: I guess Jurassic Park just doesn’t have an iconic enough score. Sorry, John Williams.
Bill: Yeah, come back when you’ve got another masterpiece like Heartbeeps, assbag. But seriously, they just turned Christmas into St. Dino’s Day. (Yes, I know “Carol of the Bells” was not traditionally a Christmas song. It also wasn’t traditionally a scary lizard-murder song.) Though, with those Transformers-esque rapid edits and unnecessary slow-mos, I’m glad they didn’t go with furiously pounding Hans Zimmer percussion or jug-jug-jug-ja-jug Navy recruitment ad buttrock guitar riffs.
John: You’ve got to love how they slam us with “REMEMBER. RETURN. RELIVE. IN 3D” just in case we forgot that we remember this movie, but now it will also wretchedly climb out of the screen at us, frankensteined into a post-converted mess. Also, the raptor clicks his talons to the rhythm of “Carol of the Bells.” Shit.
Bill: “Carol of the Goddamned Bells,” John! It’s right there! Damn it! Is that from Home Alone? Permission to check?
[Three YouTube videos later]
John: I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Bill: They’re so close! And John Williams did Home Alone! John, we have to move past this.
John: Alright. So, they were able to squeeze the old tagline in: “CELEBRATE THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ADVENTURE 65 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING.”
Bill: But without voiceover. Voiceovers aren’t cool any more, you know. Reading is cool now– wait, that can’t be right.
John: If they just slip it in with text, they can get their message across without sounding corny in the process. Too many “trailer voiceover guy” jokes have been made at this point for the real thing to fly anymore.
Bill: You’ll believe a voiceover can fly. I want to believe. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to no voiceover… I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought. Hey, they sure used a lot of “re-” words in this trailer. I think that’s a trend we’re going to see a lot in the marketing of 3D re-releases. Re-stand in line! Re-shell out your money! Re-watch the thing you’ve probably already shown your kids at home! It all re-minds me of those fake trailers in Tropic Thunder. “Here we go again… again.”
John: This all just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Let’s pretend that JP3D isn’t a thing. Until I inevitably go see it in April, that is.
Bill: Haha, have fun with that, loserhead. Well, I think we’ve pretty much exhausted this topic. This has been a Cinema 52 Special Report. I’m Bill–
John: But Bill, we still haven’t talked about that awful movie with the airplanes that you watched 52 times last year.
Bill: I CURSE YOUR ABILITY TO PICK UP ON JOKES I’VE SET UP! Top Gun. Original theatrical trailer. Let’s rock.
John: Here we go. No voiceover, just clips from the movie. This trailer honestly portrays Top Gun as whatever Top Gun is: to many, a movie about patriotism, danger, and jets; to me, two hours of boredom, macho bullshit, and jets.
Bill: John, I’m quite positive you just said something brilliant, but that synthesizer music… was that a cover of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”?
Bill: You’re no fun, John. Okay, so, yes, as someone who watched Top Gun 52 times last year… for science… despite not particularly liking the movie… this trailer is accurate. It’s rapidly edited; it dazzles you with the excitement of the U.S. Navy, then reminds you of the danger; it uses music that’s not in the original film… wait a minute, John… this is structured more like the 3D Jurassic Park trailer than the original.
John: Perhaps that is because the Jurassic Park theatrical trailer is selling Spielberg, so it has to hit on the elements of the movie that are classically Spielbergian. “Wow, the beauty of Close Encounters mixed with the suspense of Duel!” The 3D Jurassic Park trailer is selling the phenomenon of Jurassic Park. Since the Top Gun trailer is more likely trying to sell a (soon-to-be) phenomenon than a particular aspect of the film, it makes sense that it might be structurally more similar to the JP3D trailer than the theatrical.
Bill: It just hit me… there isn’t a single frame of volleyball in there. That wouldn’t be a selling point back before that scene became inexplicably iconic. Nowadays, it’s pure, uncut nostalgia. When we get to the 3D trailer, there will be volleyball.
John: No doubt. Shall we?
Bill: John, what the hell is going on?? This modern day trailer has voiceover, like the old advertisement for Jurassic Park! Truly, Top Gun plays by its own set of rules!
John: Or the producers have assessed that Top Gun‘s fanbase doesn’t care about clichéd conventions. What they do care about is apparently having everything remotely iconic crammed into one minute of footage. Buzzing the tower, “Danger Zone”, volleyball, “the need for speed,” it’s all there. Even the makers of Jurassic Park‘s 3D trailer didn’t feel the need to include every famous quote the movie ever spat out.
Bill: You are right on the nose, my friend. They hit it all. It’s particularly fascinating how many scenes in the TG3D trailer are not in the original, because nobody knew them yet. Less goofy fun, more action! If you showed the inverted dive in the 1986 trailer, people would be all: “Why isn’t he blowing that guy up?” You know how people be… all. But now, they want you and your giggly galpals and your high-fivin’ chapfaps to head to the movieplex and chortle their way to their seats because OMG, eighties, you guys!
John: Yeah, I didn’t think about it when we watched it, but it just seems wrong that “I feel the need, the need for speed” isn’t in the theatrical trailer.
Bill: Ugh, such a terrible line with an even worse delivery, but you never can tell what audiences are going to remember. Oh, yikes, and we can’t forget “the movie that defined a generation.” If that’s the case, I vote for the complete abolition of the 1980s from the space-time continuum.
John: Hey! Both Jurassic Park and Top Gun have characters famous for their lines about butts! Sorry. It just occurred to me. But Bill, without the 1980s, there would be no Back to the Future, or… okay, I am unable to think of any other good thing from that decade.
Bill: Okay, okay, no time-wiping (lest we lose Oingo Boingo and Police Squad!), but Top Gun better not go in any capsules that we shoot into space so aliens can sample the heights of our culture. It’ll be our little secret. Speaking of secrets, why is the 3D conversion of Top Gun so poorly advertised? For starters, the opening day was pushed back. That I get; director Tony Scott’s suicide obviously played a part in moving the release date. But when I tried to search for showtimes earlier today, I got month-old articles about the conversion process. Were they going to scrap this whole thing, but they’d gotten too far?
John: Seems a bit odd.
Bill: Well, it seems you’ve bested me, John. You get to do a 3D viewing of your film this year, and I never got to last year. February! So close! If they’d just pushed for a Christmas release!
John: No one wants to ruin their holidays like that.
Bill: We should have seen Jack Reacher.
Top Gun: An IMAX 3D Experience opens February 8th, 2013. Jurassic Park 3D opens April 5th, 2013.