A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
I was sitting with my younger cousin the other day. While discussing films in general, they mentioned their concerns regarding “spoiler etiquette” (see above image).
After getting over the stunning surprise that we shared similar concerns, it got me thinking about the issue at length.
The truth is that the ‘issue’ in question is not an issue at all, it’s a full-blown epidemic, jeopardising the film-going experience!
We all know somebody who has ruined the ending to something for everyone. There are those who get their kicks from revealing crucial information about topical shows or films, and personally, I think the world would be better place without them.
The internet age has brought a new form of content consumption. With Netflix, streaming sites and on-demand television changing the way we experience media, it has resulted in an instantaneous need that has resulted in a constant need to be fulfilled. It’s no surprise then, that people will fall behind on certain things, and others ill remain up to date, desperate to discuss goings on with the online community.
There’s a fine line you need to consider when revealing too much, but it sadly doesn’t stop some people.
The primary example of spoiler etiquette is without a doubt Game of Thrones. Spoiling the ending to any episode of the worldwide smash is considered sacrilege, of which the punishment is death.
Diehard fans will no doubt seek out the latest episodes whichever way they can and be respectful for those who cannot see keep up to date, to an extent.
If you follow a series and don’t want to run in to spoilers, the embargo often runs until the premiere day of each episode, but the recommended “silent period” is otherwise a fortnight after wide release. If you love a series enough, you’ll find a way to watch the episode in this time. If not, too bad, you’re on your own, it’s open slather.
These guidelines apply for films too, but what has become so appalling in the film industry is the amount of spoiler-heavy material made public to us from the industry itself!
For someone who likes to regularly visit the cinema and keep up today with all things film and TV, I personally enjoy getting surprised, amused, amazed and entertained without any prior knowledge whilst escaping into exciting, new worlds; don’t we all?
It seems now that for the “full experience” of a film, one cannot subject themselves to any form of promotional material regarding that particular film. Whether it’s trailers, TV spots, interviews, journals, posters or even online articles, you cannot enter a film unless you know absolutely nothing about it in order to experience it in its purest, most organic form.
The trouble here is that without promotion, we wouldn’t go to the movies, because we wouldn’t be excited about anything. There’s a fine art in the film advertising industry that deals with balancing enough content to capture interest without spoiling major plot details.
What worked so well in Gone Girl’s initial trailer is that we learned about the predicament of our protagonist, but better yet, we were lead into perceiving him as both the hero and the villain. What the film itself goes on to do is much of the same, questioning morality, love and everything in between, but there’s so much more depth to the story that emerges throughout the film.
We don’t see Neil Patrick Harris, nor do we hear anything from Rosamund Pike’s Amy Dunne, leading us to believe she is absent for the majority of the film.
The up and down tone of the trailer, mixed with the off-putting soundtrack result in a fantastic trailer that topped the list of 2014. This is what movie trailers should be like!
Trailers are where it can all go wrong so easily. There are iconic examples of where trailers have ruined the film’s crucial plot information. For example, the most infamous of spoiler trailers is 2000’s Castaway starring Tom Hanks.
For those who saw the film and didn’t see the trailer, it reveals that Hanks makes it off the island, which is the primary goal of the entire film.
You have to ask yourself, what’s the point in watching it in that case?
As far as a franchise is concerned, the standout repeat offenders are the Terminator films. Time after time after time, the trailers have revealed crucial plot twists that ultimately proceed to spoil the films.
Whether it be finding out that Arnie is the hero of Judgment Day, Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright is a T800 in Terminator Salvation or even in the most recent instalment of Terminator Genisys where we learn that Jason Clarke’s John Connor is not who he seems; these film will never learn!
Earlier in 2015, the world eagerly awaited the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I personally don’t think I’ve seen a film promoted more than this. Although The Amazing Spiderman 2 would challenge Age of Ultron in this category, Ultron still managed to release a gratuitous amount of footage .
With endless posters, TV spots and trailers bombarding my everyday life in the lead up to the highly anticipated blockbuster sequel, there came a point where enough was enough.
The extended trailers established The Vision; a character who deserved to be kept a secret until the film itself, all the while showing far too many excerpts from various action sequences. The opening ‘hero shot’ was ruined, the love story between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff was shown and we were shown far too much of the Hulkbuster sequence; the film’s best scene by a long stretch.
But wait, it gets worse…
This is beyond ridiculous. There is absolutely no need to release this absurd amount of clips to the general public for a forthcoming film, let alone one that is guaranteed to make over $1Billion at the Box Office.
Fans were literally salivating and camping out for Age of Ultron, so why would they want to have 20 minutes of the film spoiled for them before they even purchase their tickets?
The problem doesn’t stop with promotional material; in fact, the media reporting on such films are equally at fault. It may seem like nothing at the time, but when reading articles that focus on contracts and related matters, the information seeps into the experience of a film.
There are two primary examples to emerge from 2015 and they involve Tom Hardy and Chris Pratt.
The first was upon the release of Mad Max: Fury Road. Having booked my ticket for the premiere screening, I was shocked to return home and read not two and a half hours later “Tom Hardy signs 4 Mad Max picture deal”.
The film had quite literally been in wide release for less than six hours and we were already moving on to the sequels, Can we not enjoy this film in its infancy and postpone the future news for a couple of weeks?
The second was in a similar vein and involved breakout star Chris Pratt. The article was titled “Pratt signs on for Jurassic World sequel”. You can guess how long it took for that to be announced in relation to the first film’s release…
The major gripe I have with these announcements is that we have no time to remain curious about certain aspects of the film.
For those who didn’t get the chance to see Jurassic World on its opening weekend, we will now go in to our screenings knowing that something in particular will not occur; Chris Pratt will not die.
For a hero to generate proper concern from an audience, we need to feel as though they could face severe consequences and suffer. Luc Besson’s Lucy was a prime example of how a hero was poorly written and never faced any form of threat.
Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy consumes an enormous quantity of a drug that allows her to access an increased percentage of her brain, which crescendos until she is able to access 100%, becoming almighty and omniscient in the process.
Never is she hurt, damaged or challenged; the story simply continues upward before abruptly concluding. So how can we invest in a protagonist that is unstoppable? It becomes boring and pointless all too quickly.
Chris Pratt is a newcomer to the long-awaited Jurassic Park sequel, so why should we not be curious as to whether he makes it to the end of the film? It’s not out of the ordinary to kill off a star as big as Pratt, just look at Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading. (whoops, Spoiler Alert!)
Backtracking to Castaway, the purpose of the film was to accompany Tom Hanks as he survives on the isolated island as best he can.
We as an audience are meant to wonder if Hanks will be able to make it off the island, or at least survive in time to be rescued; the point of the trailer is to avoid spoiling the third act conclusion, eliminating any intrigue or wonder about such events.
Ultimately, we as a film-loving audience deserve to not have our films ruined for us upon the opening weekends before we even get the chance to see them. It’s great when we hear about stars signing on for sequels, but surely that news can wait until the initial film is on the way out of theatres.
Trailers should be more considerate when structuring a 2-minute tease for the film, and the entire promotional phase of post-production should take on the “less is more” mentality as to respect the audience.
So continue to remain considerate of others who may not have had the chance to see a particular episode or film, warn them if there are spoilers coming up and make sure they don’t alarmingly learn something they were hoping not to; but then again, you can only do so much…