Warning: At some point in this post, I'm going to give you a real spoiler warning. Just so you know. I'm considerate that way.
So the other night I went to see the new Danny Boyle film Sunshine, which I learned after the fact had been released internationally some six months ago, and only now has come to the States. I hadn't read any publicity for the film, nor seen any previews. Suddenly one Friday the movie just showed up at my local theatre, and well, there I was, watching it.
It was only afterwards that I went online to read reviews, which generally aligned with my two cents: the first 2/3 of the film is quite spectacular (especially the visuals and the sound mix), and then the last third gets all theological-philosophical, but not very interestingly. In her review of the film, Tasha Robinson at the Onion AV Club also coined the very apt phrase "cast attrition thriller" to describe the genre of deep-space/horror/thriller ensemble films where astronauts/unsuspecting teenagers/etc are picked off one by one. In Sunshine, that picking-off made for compelling drama until we actually come face-to-face with the
deus ex machina problem at hand. And that's when the film unravelled a bit for me.
My problem with the film, however, was less with the last third than with the pre-third: the extended trailer that was apparently released beforehand, and which appears to give just about everything away. I've come to expect this from your standard ha-ha fratboy Vince Vaughn/Adam Sandler/Will Farrell fratdork comedy, most romantic chick flicks and most political/action thrillers. In the trailers for those sorts of movies the best 15-45 seconds of the films -- the proverbial wad -- is revealed, leaving little to the imagination or the potential laughter when one actually .. sees the film. It's annoying but expected.
But in a deep-space thriller where any/everything can go awry, do you really want to tell everyone how the awry actually happens? Do you? I mean, why can't you just stick to a nice trailer like the one right below? See, this is a nice example of how to leave an audience curious and wanting to watch more: (note -- this first trailer contains no spoilers. It is, as all good thriller trailers should be, one big tease.)
See? It gives nothing away, but the stirring music*, combined with the intense visuals, makes for compelling drama. You don't really know what's going on. You might even be curious. You might even think to yourself Huh, I'll keep an eye out for when that comes out in the theatres. Not so with the extended version. Spoiler links after the jump.
This -- SPOILER -- ruins everything (though if you don't have Quicktime, you're safe). Don't click on this link if you're planning to see the film. It's the "extended trailer," which really just reads as the Cliffs Notes version of a reasonably suspenseful, intense film. If you've already produced a perfectly good trailer for a movie filled with nail-biting moments, why on earth would you want to give EVERYTHING away beforehand? Seriously, why? Do you want people to see the movie you've just paid a lot of money to get made? Aren't you actually for the Market? Why you gotta undermine the Invisible Hand with TMI?
I saw this trailer after the fact; what would've happened if I saw this in the theatres, before another film? Would I have seen Sunshine? Maybe. But then afterwards I would've written a post about how I knew what was going to happen, no thanks to that stupid extended trailer I saw before that insipid movie with the shlumpy comedian and his unrealistically attractive love interest.
And, as I wrote this post, I found the official film website. DEAR GOD don't go there if you want to see the film. There's an entire sidebar with individual video clips for the various
cast attrition scenes from the movie. I'm serious. WHAT THE HELL? Is
Fox Searchlight trying to convince people to save their $10.75 and
instead watch the movie from home?
It's a wonder I actually pay to see movies anymore.
* Does the trailer music sound familiar? It was written for the Darren Aronofsky film Requiem for a Dream, and has been used in a number of trailers (in reorchestrated versions) since then. There's a pretty interesting and hilarious post over at kratkocrasnik about how this trend needs to be stopped. The post features trailers from every film in which some version of that orchestrated track is used, and includes an audio clip of the original version. Is this the 21st century version of Orff's Carmina Burana?