Friday, 11 February 2011

Most Annoying Hollywood Trailer Catchphrases

I was recently reminded of something that I find increasingly annoying in the current crop of Hollywood movies, so I thought I would share it with you all (aren't you lucky!). Catchphrases specifically designed as perfect trailer material. Lines that just don't seem natural, but are instead shoe-horned into the script for dramatic effect.

As far as I can tell, there are three leading candidates, which I've list below in no particular order:

Ratatouille - guilty of "Let's do this thing!"
“Let's do this!” (Or words to that effect) - How often have we all heard this statement in films recently? I don't know about you, but imagining characters in dramatic, usually life-threatening scenarios, this doesn't sound like a natural sentence. But it's great for dramatic effect, isn't it? (note my sarcasm) Usually used in the moment before a big action scene, where characters are about to plunge into battle, or do something incredibly dangerous to save the world, and clearly intended to underscore that 'rollercoaster' moment of just hitting the quiet motionless peak, before plummeting into dramatic action with lots of fast movement and screaming. It's also perfect in trailers, to emphasise the big battles/action/excitement you will see, without showing all of the actual action itself.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -
guilty of "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?"
“Everything's different now...” (Or words to that effect) - This line appears to be perfectly suited to sequels. Want to up the impact, and imply that your new movie is more serious, dark and dramatic than its predecessor(s)? Drop it somewhere in the movie, then use that sequence in the trailer! Just get some unwitting character to drop the line anywhere during a half-serious scene. Who cares that it doesn't seem natural. It tells us that we should all go “oooooh!” at how this movie is going to make everything before it seem trivial and light-hearted in comparison.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice - guilty of "Let's end this!"
“Let's end this!” (Or words to that effect) - Either the antagonist or protagonist has to say this before their final battle. This works in the same way as “Let's do this!”, only more so (not unlike Rick's manliness in Casablanca). It emphasises the moment where we're all supposed to tense with anticipation of the big explosive effects extravaganza finale (Or dramatic finale, it's not limited to mindless blockbusters). Again, great for trailers, to imply how 'dramatic' the film's denouement will be without having to show too much of the event itself.

I can just see the script writers shaking their heads in despair (hopefully they don't think of these lines themselves), as the 'suits' tell them to squeeze them into the script somewhere. No doubt with the aid of various graphs and charts and statistics, that show how much effect they have on the 'mindless' public when viewing the trailer or even the film itself.

The problem with these lines, is that they scream: “This is here for maximum effect in the trailer, or cheap dramatic effect in the film!” (with plenty of exclamation marks). While it could be argued that they work from a marketing perspective in the trailers, I can't help feeling that they detract from the film overall. Mainly because they jarringly take you out of the story and characters because they don't feel natural.

Hopefully this trend will end soon, as it becomes over-used. Unfortunately, I can't help thinking that the executives are already on the lookout for the next trailer-bait catchphrase...

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1 comment:

  1. HI WD Lee. I sent you a private message on IMDB. When you have time, please take a look at it. I can't find your contact info on this blog anywhere... maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

    Becky Garland