I felt a little out-of-sorts when I walked out of Captain America this weekend, but don’t read that as any judgement on the film. My mood - and I’m not sure how to describe it except to say it contained grains of irritation, amusement, and dismay - was entirely the result of the coming attractions.
Our local theater inflicted ten previews on us in all, for a sustained assault that lasted well over twenty minutes. We had almost a half an hour of things detonating, buildings collapsing in avalanches of pulverized rock and broken glass, F-16s spinning out-of-control like badminton shuttlecocks, and soundtracks doing that BWAAAA-BWAAA thing that every preview has had to do since Inception. By the time it was done I had this voice in my head saying something like ohgodfuck stop too much no more I’ll be good I’ll take the pills I’ll do whatever you ask just let me up I’ve had enough.
The thing which really struck me is that every preview had everything everyone everywhere could ever want in their summer movie experience except for any sign of human beings. A truck disintegrated into twelve hundred components and put itself back together. A raccoon wielding a mini-gun laid waste to other CGI critters. A few cities were destroyed by dinosaurs or robots or, in one case, a robot dinosaur (YES). But where were all the fucking human beings?
It’s clear to me that I’m suffering from event fatigue. I am worn out on bigness: on loud movies that come in trilogies of trilogies, each 3 hours long (4 on the director’s cut DVD). But most of all, I just miss when films used to have room in them for people - when a story was something that happened to a character. You know. I’m old, I get nostalgia for the good old days of brainy little character pieces like DIE HARD and MINORITY REPORT.
No doubt some of these films will have wonderful characters in them. You know the saying: don’t judge a book by its extended red-band trailer featuring a tidal wave wiping out Los Angeles. I understand that when you only have two-and-a-half minutes to sell a film, you can’t waste precious seconds on shit no one cares about, like people with faces expressing emotions. No matter how the trailers make it look, I’m sure many of the upcoming summer films will feature bits and pieces of human drama. There has to be a moment somewhere for the ticket-buyers to go out and spend money on popcorn.
There was one instant - just one - when I perked up, during the half hour or so I was being clobbered senseless by the shit parade of summer previews. All of a sudden, in the middle of the Godzilla trailer, I heard Bryan Cranston’s voice, cracking with grief, strain, and frustration. I had gooseflesh all over. A whole 3-D CGI city block of skyscrapers can come screaming down in a billion lovingly rendered shreds of debris and it can’t even begin to compete with so much exposed humanity.
Idea: the singular power of the human voice is maybe the last thing they can’t model on a computer, autotune with software, or calculate with the help of a focus group. It is also one of the few things left that can cut through the clutter, that can electrify a viewer, and that has more power than a whole half hour of BWAAA BWAAA.
Oh, and what’d I think of Captain America? I liked the human parts. None of them were in the trailer, so they came as a complete surprise.
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- thomasadennis said: "F-16s spinning out-of-control like badminton shuttlecocks" Perfect description.
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- kimyoofilms said: I thought I counted ten trailers the last time I went to the theatre. It’s INSANE.
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