I have become so disillusioned with this series. I was really into it at first, and I wanted it to become huge partly because I was so “in” from the beginning, but the sequel books didn’t really live up to the promise of the first installment, and although I didn’t hate the last book, (Allegiant), it wasn’t exactly as good as I had been hoping.
Meanwhile, I can’t get excited about this movie adaptation. Everything about the way they’ve marketed it so far screams “conformity to stereotypical Hollywood tropes and generic YA action movie themes that are the SAME as so many other things!”, which is so ironic given that they’ve simplified the storyline into “Tris is the hero because she’s DIFFERENT!” Like, look at this poster:
Really, guys? Really?
This poster makes me absolutely rage. WHAT IS THIS BUTT POSE AND CAN WE STOP MAKING IT A THING THAT WOMEN DO IN ACTION MOVIE POSTERS PLEASE!???!! And other than the birds and the Ferris wheel in the background, what about this poster is actually specific to this story as opposed to almost anything else? (Hint: nothing). Then there are the character posters that apparently you don’t get if your character is not in the Dauntless faction because they’re all about “guys, look tattooooos! Doesn’t this make our movie look badass (and one-dimensional?!) Never mind that the original story was partially about struggling with multiple virtues and which one if any should be most highly valued; TATTOOOOOOS!”
So now we have our first official trailer, and it has done nothing to lift my curmudgeonly spirits about this movie:
Theo James is definitely too old to be playing Four. His American accent is not consistent. Shailene Woodley as Abnegation Tris is wearing TOO MUCH MAKE-UP! Yes I know it’s a movie but they didn’t have to go overboard obvious with the mascara and eyeliner before she’s even transferred to Dauntless. I still don’t like the over-stylization of Four’s back tattoos.
OKAY FINE, I will not be a 100% Negative Nancy, there are some good moments in this trailer. Like when the Dauntless jump joyously off the train at 0:28, and the fear landscape drowning scene from 0:46-0:55, (although in this cut it looks like it’s the aptitude test), Tris jumping off the roof at 1:15, Four’s intense stare in the knife-throwing scene at 1:39.
If anything, the disappointing path the Divergent movie marketing has taken just makes me more impressed with Catching Fire which has been consistently killing it. Well, internet, am I the only Initiate not jazzed about this trailer? What did you think of it?
A new trailer was released today for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The first thing I noticed was that the music sounded familiar, and it only took a minute to confirm my suspicions (and boost my music-recognizing-ego); it’s totally the same song that was used for the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer. It’s a different arrangement and the music in the second halves of the trailers diverge after both have a moment where the music stops completely for a line of significant dialogue to land by itself (“Patience isn’t my strong suit” at 1:24 for X-Men:DoFP and “You think you’re safe…you are not” at 1:04 for STID), but it’s definitely the same song. Compare:
I like the vocals the in the STID version, but I think I have to give the edge overall to the music in X-Men:DoFP, because the last part of STID‘s music is just “BWAAAAM! BWAAAAM! BWAAAAM!”, but X-Men:DoFP‘s is a lot more musical, if admittedly generic. What do you think–which trailer uses the music better?
With every new piece of news, image, or interview related to the upcoming Divergent film adaptation of the book by Veronica Roth, I feel I’ve become more and more disillusioned with the whole thing. I haven’t been blogging about it much, because it feels mean and unproductive to post public rants about all the things that annoy me about the lead actress, but I assure you I’ve paid attention to the set photos, tweets, tumbls, everything. For a while I worried that maybe I was getting too old to appreciate the Young Adult genre anymore, but my excitement over the Catching Fire trailer and my enjoyment of the Mortal Instruments movie stilled those fears. I don’t think it’s me; I think this adaptation is subpar. Watch the trailer for yourself:
Well, first of all, even though I was originally excited about his casting, Theo James is too old to play Four. And it’s totally apparent in this trailer. In an interview at Comic-Con, Shailene Woodley reportedly said:
Theo James who plays the love interest in my film is 28, in the book his character is 18, but in the movie we’re making him about 24/25. He’s kind of ageless in a way. And even though in the book Tris is about 16, we never allude to the fact that she’s that young.
I am not okay with this. I don’t see how it will be possible not to “allude” to Tris’s age when the choosing ceremony that starts off the plot happens when citizens are 16. If they’re deciding Four is 24, he’s 8 years older than her and a creepy pervert for getting into a relationship with her, as opposed to book-Four who is only a year or two older than Tris. I don’t want to watch a man with giant muscle-arms punch people and kiss a young girl. I wanted to watch two teenagers, tougher than their bodies appeared, face difficult decisions and get butterflies when their hands touched.
Second, Tris is wearing way too much make-up. I suppose they’re projecting Christina’s makeover to last for the entirety of Tris’s Dauntless days, but the scene at the end where she looks up with eyes rimmed in black irritated me because Abnegation-born Tris just wouldn’t smear that stuff on to go to a training session. But I’ve seen nothing from this movie so far about Tris being Abnegation-born other than “she wears frumpy gray clothes and a bun at the beginning!” It’s too intent on selling me Tris as a badass Dauntless to remember she has aptitude for multiple factions and that’s why she’s Divergent in the first place.
Thirdly, why did they feel the need to embellish Four’s back tattoos with these totally unnecessary and meaningless bands on the sides? Is it because the costume designer wanted an extra outlet for their personal creativity? Is it because movie makers insist on visualizing characters differently from how they’re described in the books so that no pre-existing fanart or cosplay will be legitimized and fans will be more inclined to just buy the official replica merchandise they’ll be sure to market soon? (That’s what it feels like.) I just don’t see any reason for all that extra ink. Each of Four and Tris’s tattoos in the book are chosen with significance; they’re not in it for the body art. And what would have been so difficult about doing it like the book said, and like the fanart bellow illustrates?
Tris runs her fingers down Four’s faction symbol back tattoos in the Divergent trailer.
Four’s tattoos, by tumblr user chrysalisgrey (formerly ice-ridden).
I’m not making these grievances up out of thin air; I feel like they’re legitimate concerns. But the reason these flaws are so frustrating to me is that I really connected with the book. I identified with Tris, as someone who grew up in a very conservatively-dressing, emphasis-on-serving-others household but never felt like I was naturally good at the selflessness I was supposed to be enacting. When Tris self-consciously noted, taking off her jacket before her jump into the Dauntless hole, that it was the first time anyone had seen her in anything as revealing as her tight t-shirt, I vividly remembered the first times I wore a spaghetti strap shirt or a two piece swimsuit, in college after I had moved out and my parents couldn’t enforce their dress code anymore.
In the book, I loved the idea of asking what the value of virtues like honesty versus bravery or harmony is. As I’ve written previously, I loved the straightforward way that Tris and Four’s relationship develops. I loved the Dauntless manifesto’s assertions that “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” and “We do not believe that we should be allowed to stand idly by.” I loved that Four embraced the value of all faction virtues. I loved that Four said “I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.” I loved that sacrificing oneself for another was a repeated theme. I loved that Tris chose to get a tattoo of not only her chosen Dauntless but also her family heritage Abengation symbol, to recognize the value in where she came from, to acknowledge that while it wasn’t her choice to live within that strict code, she didn’t reject it entirely. I felt I could relate to that, too.
I don’t see any of what I liked about the book in this trailer. I see an attempt to market this as an ACTION MOVIE with FIGHTING and GUNS and DANGER OF BEING KILLED. Yes, it’s true that in the book, Jeanine is attempting to eliminate all Divergents, that others exposed as Divergent have been killed, and that if Tris’s condition is revealed she would be targeted as well. But that’s not what the story is about. At least not to me.
The best thing about the trailer is Kate Winselt’s villain (Jeanine Matthews), and that role is clearly being fleshed out more than it exists in Tris’s narration. But Four is too old. Tris is too defiant. (And ugh, this is nit-picking because I know this language use is common, so it’s fine, whatever, but it’s really irritating that she spits out “don’t try and define me!” instead of “don’t try to define me!”).
Ugh. I don’t know. Maybe I am really just an old curmudgeon these days. What do you think?
This week we got to see the first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a puppet of the people who work in movie marketing, because I was totally focused on looking forward to Man of Steel this week and then Catching Fire in the fall, but about five seconds into watching this trailer all I could think about was “December can’t come fast enough! I need to start working on my costume! I need to start thinking of themed snacks I can bring to have while we wait in line for the midnight showing!” And then I listened to the soundtrack to the first film for the rest of the day and re-watched the trailer dozens of times. I mean, I’m not complaining, it was a glorious day, I just feel like I’m too easily manipulated into excitement over these things. But I don’t care! I love it!
GAH, so exciting, so lovely, so perfect!
Look, there’s Beorn in bear-form! If you recall, I predicted that the visit to his cabin would be a good place to pick up the storyline for part 2 since it’s a natural refresher for the audience of the names of all the dwarves as they come in two at a time and Gandalf introduces them all to their host.
The barrel ride escape from Mirkwood is definitely being done differently from the book, because they’re not shut inside with lids closed for a silent ride, but honesty it’s going to be a lot more fun to watch this way. I”m not totally sure why CGI-elves with bows drawn are chasing them, but I’m sure it’s for dramatic effect as I don’t recall Beorn attacking the dwarves in bear-form ever in the book, either. I am a little more concerned about the elves chasing the barrels only because it’s going to make them look like poor shots when they miss them all, and I like to imagine all my elves with the ridiculously accurate aim that Legolas epitomized in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I love what we’ve seen so far of the new character of warrior elf Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. (I’ll be posting a preliminary analysis of her braid hairstyle later). I can’t believe I’m even hearing rumors that some fans are objecting to her inclusion;people saying that do realize that there wouldn’t be a female character other than Galadriel in the whole trilogy if she’s not in it, right? These movies, like all adaptations are not “the book” but their own version of the story, so just accept it and enjoy it. Or if you’re going to say Tauriel is non-canonical and shouldn’t be included then you’d better complain about every single other element that’s been changed or added, too.
The peek at the dragon at the end reminds me of Gollum at the end of the first trailer for the first movie. It’s the exact same format, a sinister scene right after the title. But it’s a formula that works, and I love it. I wish we could see more of Smaug’s body, because I need to start figuring out how it might be possible to make a dragon costume to wear to the midnight premiere, but I have a feeling they may want to save the full reveal for the movie. At least I know what colors to use now, and the full shape of the head which is a lot more to go on than the eyeball shot we got at the end of An Unexpected Journey.
The best thing about this new trailer, though, is that director Peter Jackson shared a youtube video of some fangirls watching it for the first time, and then he posted a video of Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom, and Lee Pace in their Mirkwood elves costumes, watching the fangirls reaction and fangirling over the fangirls. It might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
I honestly think I may have watched the above video more times than I’ve watched the actual trailer so far. I get a vicarious thrill for the fangirls, (sisters who have a webseries called Happy Hobbit), being able to see that the actors truly appreciate their enthusiasm. (The sisters later posted a reaction-t0-the-reaction, which has been dubbed “Hobbitception“) The part where they thank Peter Jackson and the actors for watching their video and say “If we can give back an ounce of the joy that you give us through all of your hard work then we’re more than happy to play the part of the fool and have you laugh at us,” reminds me of the sentiment I tried to express when I posted about spending weeks crocheting dwarf beards for last year’s Unexpected Journey, and the part where they squeal “she knows we like her!” in regards to Evangeline Lily/Tauriel is delightful, and when one sister tries to calm the other’s freakout over the fact that Orlando Bloom comments on their attentive faces with “well, we’ve seen his face”, it’s all just pure fangirl gold.
I mean, this might be the only time we see Thanduril smiling, and he’s not only smiling he’s flapping his arms just like I and millions of other fans did when we watched the trailer.
I’m serious, this is my new favorite thing, like, at all. Of all books and movies and shows and songs that I love, this is my favorite. Actors fangirling fans fangirling them. In a Peter Jackson adaptation of Tolkien. It’s a delight.
As I continue to re-watch the new trailer for The Hobbit, I’ve noticed more things that it reminds me of. First, when Biblo is saying “I like visitors as much as the next hobbit, but I like to know them before they visit!” and looking out the window, then gasping and ducking away to hide in the hallway when Gandalf peeks back in at him, it totally looks like when old Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Rings hides against the same wall in the same hallway and tells Gandalf “I’m not at home!” to avoid having to answer the knockings on the door from “these confounded relatives!” I love the parallel because it helps remind us that this is the same character, and while the Biblo that sets out on this adventure in The Hobbit and the one who returns and is seen later in The Fellowship of the Rings are very different, they still share many quirks, including the physical reaction to unwanted visitors outside.
While re-watching The Fellowship of the Ring to get the screenshot of old Bilbo above, I noticed that the map we see in this new Hobbit trailer totally looks like Bilbo’s map in Fellowship! Which is kind of a duh, it’s the same map, (but with some added wear and tear and additional markings!), but it just made me really excited to re-watched the Lord of the Rings triology after I’ve seen all the Hobbit films and think about the characters’ rich backstories. And it’s exactly the kind of detail that movies mess up on so often, (like Lily’s eyes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, for goodness sakes), and I’m so grateful to the cast and crew of these Peter Jackson-helmed Tolkien movies for caring so much about every little thing.
The map in the new Hobbit trailer.
Gandalf examines the map on Bilbo’s table in Fellowship of the Ring.
The other thing in this trailer that reminds me of something else is Galadriel’s white gown and cape, which totally look like the Tom Ford creation that Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the Academy Awards earlier this year. It’s too bad we don’t get a clear, focused look at Galadriel’s dress, but I think the similarity is still pretty clear. That observation is not really worth anything, I just noticed it and couldn’t help making a side-by-side comparison.
Did anything else stand out to you in this trailer, that totally looks like something else?
When Peter Jackson announced that The Hobbit film adaptation would span not two, but three films, I wasn’t sure about the idea. But the new trailer today for part 1, also known as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has erased all doubts from my mind. How could I possibly not be excited after watching such an exciting preview?
My favorite thing about the previous trailer was the music, but this one does not feature the “Misty Mountains” song and the accompanying music is barely noticeable. There are plenty of other things to love about this one, though!
I don’t see any moon-letters on this map, but I see empty spaces where they might show up under the right moon!
This one tells us more about the story, (which of course we already know, from the book)–an uninitiated audience could glean from this trailer that the dwarves + Bilbo are going on a long journey, to “determined to reclaim their home land,” and that Bilbo is part of their group at Gandalf’s suggestion/insistence. We see Elrond advise Thorin that “some might not deem it wise” to go through with his plan to “enter the mountain”. We see Bilbo and Gollum setting up the game of riddles! We see the band of adventurers facing trolls, goblins, wolves, and stone giants! I love it all.
I love Bilbo running down a path in the Shire with his great big hobbit feet flapping around, shouting, “I’m going on an adventure!”
Though not a line from the book, I absolutely love the inclusion of Gandalf talking about the inspiration he gets from the steadfast little hobbit. It reminds me of a quote that is in the book The Hobbit, that demonstrates the title character’s extraordinary yet simplistic courage and strength.
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.
“Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”
I love Bilbo’s elven-made sword, Sting, glowing blue to warn of the presence of a goblin.
I love Bilbo propositioning Gollum with “a game of riddles?” Every time I see that part, (in the dozens of times I have watched this trailer so far today), I want to shout out “what have I got in my pocket?!”
“If Baggins loses, we eats it whole.”
But as for guessing at what point in the story the first film will conclude, I think it must not be very long after the group takes refuge in treetops to get away from the wolves. In the book, Gandalf nearly succeeds in scaring the wolves away with fire, but then the goblins arrive seeking vengeance, (because the dwarves not only escaped from their caves but killed the goblin king), and set the trees on fire. The heroes escape at the last second with help from the eagles. Well, I don’t see any eagles in the trailer, but I don’t know if they would show them if they’re going to swoop in at the very end. You’d want to keep that a surprise for anyone who hasn’t read the book, so they’re genuinely scared for the dwarves, hobbit and wizard, right?
Although I’m sure they’ll want to end on a bit of a cliffhanger, it doesn’t seem like the movie will end with the adventurers in mortal peril atop burning trees. And, the book describes Biblo’s transit via eagle as quite dangerous and exciting itself. I think a good ending for the first film would be for the eagles to swoop in and fly them out of there, and when they land on the eyrie for something like this exchange from the book to happen:
[Bilbo] found himself saying aloud: “Now I know what a piece of bacon feels like when it is suddenly picked out of the pan on a fork and put back on the shelf!”
“No you don’t!” he heard Dori answering, “because the bacon knows that it will get back in the pan sooner or later; and it is to be hoped we shan’t. Also eagles aren’t forks!”
In any case, we see Thorin in a treetop, (and I like this “hero shot” much better than the one of him in the first trailer, where he’s on horseback and the sunlight is sort of anointing him), and we see Gandalf in a treetop where the tree is actually on fire. So I *think* that image of Gandalf in the burning tree is the clip closest to the end of this movie that we see in the trailer.
“I will take each and every one of these dwarves over the mightiest army. Loyalty, honor, a willing heart–I can ask no more than that.”
This picture is the very essence of “fantasy” to me. A wizard! With a great big pointy hat, a beard, and a staff! In a tree, which is on fire, against a stormy sky!
If that is indeed where the first film ends, it means that An Unexpected Journey will cover the first six chapters of the book. That is just about perfect, considering there are 19 chapters; each film should cover 6 chapters and one will cover 7, or else two will cover 6 and a half. Also, towards the beginning of the next film the dwarves will have a natural opportunity to reacquaint the audience with their names, when they introduce themselves two at a time to Beorn, so that seems like another good reason for this choice for the split.
What do you think? Is my theory about the end of part 1 right, or do you think the cut will be somewhere else? Oh, and how great is that last voice-over line from Gandalf, “Home is now behind you, the world is ahead,”?! Fantastic. I’m definitely excited. Is it December yet?!
*update* Ooh, how fun, four alternative endings to the trailer! I think I like the first one, with the contract, best.
The first teaser trailer for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, was recently released online. My first time seeing it was at the theater for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I thought at the time that the music sounded suspiciously like part of the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings, a score I am very familiar with since I have seen those movies dozens of times and the complete 3-disc soundtrack was my go-to music when I would stay up all night writing research papers for school. A quick visit to my ipod confirmed my suspicions–the music featured in the Man of Steel trailer is the last minute of a track titled The Bridge of Khazad Dum, from The Fellowhip of the Ring. Said bridge is in the Mines of Moria, and this is the music that accompanies Gandalf’s fatal fall into the pit with the Balrog, and the Fellowship’s immediate devastation.
Watch one version of the Man of Steel trailer, (this is the one with voice-over from Clark Kent’s adoptive father; the other one is the same except the voice-over is from his biological dad Jor-El):
Now compare the music in that teaser to the last minute of The Bridge of Khazad Dum. Skip to about the 4:40 mark:
I mean, it’s exactly the same. It’s not “similar to” or “in the style of,” it’s actually the exact same piece of music. It’s not unusual for trailers to feature music from other movies, or to recycle something that won’t actually be in the finished product itself. This is, after all, a teaser trailer, so maybe they haven’t scored anything for the film itself yet. But it’s still strange to use music from such an iconic film, that is so recognizable. Howard Shore composed the music for Lord of the Rings, but Hans Zimmer is scoring Man of Steel, so they’re not even recycling from the same musician.
I’m sure they chose this music because it’s haunting and dark and fits (or sets) the mood of the trailer very well. I’m sure they didn’t intend for me to start thinking about how Gandalf and Superman can be compared, if at all. But because this music is so strongly tied to Lord of the Rings, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Is it because both Superman and Gandalf resemble humans but are actually much more powerful and are sent to this earth for some greater purpose? (See TolkienGateway for the origins of wizards in Middle-Earth). Is it because they’re both kind of loners by default, having very few true peers? Is it because they do both value the less-powerful lives of their human/hobbit/dwarf/elf friends, and that love for humanity is seen by their foes as a weakness? Is it forshadowing that Superman will a) fight some sort of ancient evil like the Balrog, or b) sacrifice himself to save others less powerful than he? Is Superman going to “die” and be resurrected, the way Gandalf is, and actually the way Superman Returns ended? Is it because, right before Gandalf falls, he whispers, “Fly, you fools!” and the trailer ends with Superman flying? (That’s my favorite theory).
“Fly, you fools!”
I’m sure none of those comparisons were intended. But Warner Brothers underestimates the accuracy of my nerd powers of recollection if they expect me not to notice this sort of thing. And now all I can think about is, who would win in a duel of Gandalf vs. Superman? Vote, and give your reasoning in the comments below.
I say Gandalf, with his staff. If Superman can take the staff away, then he’d win.
ZOMG, the first trailer for The Hobbit is finally here! I love it.
I love the singing. The lyrics are taken from a song in the book, obviously. There are some lines missing that leave the bit in the trailer a little nonsensical, but they always splice scenes together for trailers, and even in the movie I wouldn’t expect them to include every line from every song. Tolkien was quite verbose. Here’s some text from the paragraph just before the song, that I think show how well this movie is bringing the story to life:
The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still they played on. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes.
Musically, I think the song is reminiscent of Pippin’s song (Edge of Night) from Return of the King. Here are the lyrics that are sung in the trailer:
Far over the misty mountain cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.
These come from two stanzas about half-way through the song as it is included in the book, and there are two lines missing that should come after the first couplet:
We must away, ere break of day
To seek our long-forgotten gold.
Rather important syntactically, (without them it sounds like the pines were roaring to the dungeons, or something), but maybe in the full version of this scene the song will be more complete. (The flames, by the way, are from “the dragons ire, more fierce than fire,” and there is also a stanza about goblins that was skipped over between the lines of the trailer song.) I do love that it is a new tune, and that it continues throughout the second part of the trailer. New music! I mean I love the Lord of the Rings soundtracks, and they instantly increase my level of excitement when Peter Jackson includes them in his vlogs as he has been doing, but these are new films and I’m so stoked to be getting new, epic music to go with them. (The score is by Howard Shore, who also composed the music for all three Lord of the Rings films).
The tone of this trailer is undoubtedly dark. The song lyrics included talk about deep dark dungeons and burning landscapes, and several times Bilbo’s chances of survival are called into question, which I think is a little bit silly because we all know that this is a prequel and that he’s going to survive. I think they could generate excitement or market this as an action adventure full of dangerous escapades without trying to make us believe that Bilbo might die, don’t you? But they didn’t really need to work at convincing me to be excited for this movie anyway. I am duly excited. Maybe I will re-read The Hobbit during the holiday break!
**update 12/14/12** The full version of this Misty Mountain song, as sung in the movie and on the soundtrack, has these lyrics:
It’s finally here! We’ve been waiting for so long to see an official trailer for the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games,” and this morning it finally arrived. Premiering on Good Morning America with an appearance by Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, the trailer is already online as well.
And it. is. amazing!
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is PERFECT, as I knew she would be. I love what they included of the Reaping, (the ceremony where the tributes are selected), because it made me cry and reminded me of the part in Mockingjay when the PR team in District 13 is trying to think of what made people love Katniss to begin with, what moments were best to remind people of or re-create in order to exploit that attachment and admiration of her. Someone mentions that when she sacrificed herself for Prim, when she volunteered in her place, that it was a very powerful moment. (Sorry, I can’t look up the exact quote because I lent my copy out to a friend). It is incredibly moving to see the way Katniss screams in desperation, as the guards hold her back while Prim walks towards her doom, “I VOLUNTEER!” That little clip perfectly encapsulates Katniss’s situation.
Katniss volunteers as Tribute in her sister's place, (and I cry my eyes out at this part every single time).
I guess the trailer didn’t actually indicate that Katniss is the sole breadwinner for her family, that her father is dead, that she must survive the Games in order to continue taking care of her sister and her unstable mother, but the goal of survival is secondary to her goal of protecting Prim. And they did include that line, when Katniss and Peeta are on the roof, and he says he wants to “think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.” (!!! fanTASTIC line by the way, great decision to include it, one of the reasons we all love Peeta so much, he is so good!) Katniss replies, “I just can’t afford to think like that.” So we do get the sense that Katniss, although she volunteers for the Hunger Games because it is her only option, is going to fight to survive, and may be willing to do whatever it takes to win, whereas Peeta is fighting too, but for a different cause. (He’s so noble! I can’t stand it!)
Peeta says, "I just keep wishin' I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I wanna still be me."
It’s perfect, I tell you, this trailer is perfect! It sets everything up excellently, and it doesn’t betray a single character. Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket is terrific. Her overly cheerful and colorful “Welcome, welcome!” when everyone in the crowd is depressed and drab, the fancy flourishes of her hands. Did you see the way she waves Peeta up on stage so ridiculously, like he’s five, coming to get a prize and not a death sentence? What a bitch! Perfect.
I have watched it maybe six or sevennine twelve nineteen times now. I keep pausing in the middle of writing paragraphs to re-watch it. The music is great too, I think. It’s haunting, and it doesn’t sound too modern. I mean I know this story is set in the future, but most of the districts are actually deprived of the technological advances that exist. The music sounds a lot more District 12-y than Capital-y. The music for this trailer ends the same way that the teaser trailer did, by the way, with a Mockingjay whistling Rue’s song.
There are so many more things that I want to see, (like more Haymitch, and Katniss’s mom, and Peeta being the Boy with the Bread, and a lot more of Cinna, and the beauty team, and more of the stuff that happens in the Arena, especially the cave), but what was included was all really good. I mean we really hadn’t seen anything except some shots of the filming of the Reaping, and the eight character posters that were released a couple weeks ago. Oh, and the teaser trailer, but that was just Katniss. I’m definitely convinced now that Josh Hutcherson is going to make an excellent Peeta, even though they didn’t really let him shine in this trailer. Everything they showed of him was great, I’m just saying they didn’t develop his character in this two minute, thirty-six second trailer as much as they did Katniss’s. Which is fine. Because I know they will in the movie. (Is it March yet?!)
The boy from District 12 looks out as he arrives in the wealthy Capital in awe.
Okay. Getting a little more book-nerd with it, did you notice the actual “girl on fire” part? I think this is the entrance parade of the Tributes, and we see Katniss, in the pyrotechnic dress that Cinna designed for her, projected on a large screen to viewers in the Capital, and then it pans back and we see two Capital dwellers watching the show with their little blue drinks and tiny iPod-ish screen, right?
The Girl on Fire
Also, towards the end we see the District 12 salute. Katniss appears to be sending a shout-out to her District from the Arena, and the crowd watching at home responds with the same gesture. In the book, they do this when she volunteers at the Reaping, and Katniss does it in the Arena when an ally dies. But this looks like the very beginning of the Games, before the buzzer goes off, when each contestant is standing on their little circle. She’s pretty unscathed, and it’s too grassy to be the forest death scene I’m thinking of. Or, I don’t know, maybe she’s doing a farewell to the body as it’s taken away by the helicopter, and then the shot of District 12 doing it too is actually from the Reaping? (If so I think that’s the only clip in this trailer from the second half of the movie. Everything else is before the Games or the first few seconds of the 74th Annual Game itself). I think it’s an interesting way to include the sorts of scenes we didn’t get to see from Katniss’s narration, (like people watching the Games and reacting back home, or in the Capital).
The District 12 salute.
Here’s the description of the first use of this symbol in the book:
Then something unexpected happens. At least, I don’t expect it because I don’t think of District 12 as a place that cares about me. But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become something precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.
I thought the styling of the Capital characters was spot-on. I saw someone with pinkish, reddish skin in one quick shot. I loved the swirls in the head Gamemaker’s facial hair. I liked the shot of the Capital we saw, nestled in the mountains of what used to be Colorado. I loved the ornateness of it all. It’s perfect. This looks like it’s going to be an incredibly faithful adaptation. Hooray!
Oh, and it looks like they’ve included the scene where the red-headed girl trying to escape the Capital is captured by the pursuing aircraft in the woods outside of District 12. In the books, this is a flash-back that Katniss remembers when she sees the same girl serving as her Avox, (a servant who’s tongue has been cut out so they are literally “without voice”), in the Capital. But it’s a good change to make this actually happen at the beginning of the film rather than as a flashback to sometime before the main narrative, because it won’t disrupt the flow of action as much, and it will give a little more time on screen to develop Gale and Katniss’s relationship.
If you haven’t read this book series yet, why the hell not?! Get cracking. You have until March 23, 2012. It’s amazing. And may the odds be ever in your favor!
What is up with American filmmakers’ (and television show-makers’) obsession with “sensationalizing” their material and marketing campaigns with lesbians? You probably know what I’m talking about, it’s not a new phenomenon. There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to cataloging the number of times television shows have used a “lesbian kiss episode” to boost ratings during sweeps. The most recent place I noticed this spectacle was in a trailer for David Fincher’s American adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, based on the book by the late Stieg Larsson. Watch, and let’s discuss:
So there’s voice-over by Advokat Bjurman saying “how many partners have you had in the last month? How many of those have been–men?” while we see Lisbeth in a club hooking up with a woman. The very next lines are Bjurman assuring Lisbeth that she will have control of her money “once you learn to be–sociable. Let’s start with me. You know what to do.” It’s clear he intends forced sex. Yes, that’s what happens in the book, he forces her after asking a barrage of invasive questions about her sex life, but the way this is cut in the trailer it makes it look like she’s being victimized in this way at least partially because she prefers women to men. Also, in the book Bjurman doesn’t ask about her partner preference, he asks if she likes different positions.
Then of course when Blomkvist first meets Lisbeth in real life, barging into her apartment to her utter shock, there is a girl in Lisbeth’s bed. Blomkvist says, “Put some clothes on, get rid of your girlfriend.” Blomkvist then tells a sullen-looking Lisbeth, “I need you to help me catch a killer of women,” a proposition that gets her to look up with newly lit interest. Because, of course lesbians would be down with hating on women-killers!
I would say there’s another bit of dialogue that hints at this picture the trailer is painting, towards the beginning when Lisbeth is asked if there is anything she chose to leave out of the report on Blomkvist. This one is more subtle, but when she is describing his relationship with his co-editor and says, “Sometimes he pleasures her, not often enough in my opinion,” it seems to wink at the fact that Lisbeth herself prefers a certain amount of “pleasuring.” If you’ve seen the uncensored version of this trailer, you know the “pleasure” referenced doesn’t require male genitalia. There is also a quick shot of Lisbeth kissing a woman, (I think it’s the same one from the bar and her bedroom), towards the end (3:06).
I’m just saying, the way this trailer is cut, it makes it look like much of Lisbeth’s driving force, identity, and motivation has to do with her being lesbian. Still, maybe none of that seems over the top to the average movie trailer viewer. But let’s compare this depiction of Lisbeth with what Larsson actually penned in regards to her sexuality. He’s pretty straightforward, and there’s really no guesswork. (The Evil Fingers are a clique she sometimes hangs out with.):
Salander awoke with a start from a dreamless slumber. She felt faintly sick. She did not have to turn her head to know that Mimmi had left already for work, but her scent still lingered in the stuffy air of the bedroom. Salander had drunk too many beers the night before with the Evil Fingers at the Mill. Mimmi had turned up not long before closing time and come home with her and into bed.
Salander–unlike Mimmi–had never thought of herself as a lesbian. She had never brooded over whether she was straight, gay, or even bisexual. She did not give a damn about labels, did not see that it was anyone else’s business whom she spent her nights with. If she had to choose, she preferred guys–and they were in the lead, statistically speaking. The only problem was finding a guy who was not a jerk and one who was also good in bed; Mimmi was a sweet compromise, and she turned Salander on. They had met in a beer tent at the Pride Festival a year ago, and Mimmi was the only person that Salander had introduced to the Evil Fingers. But it was just a casual affair for both of them. It was nice lying close to Mimmi’s warm, soft body, and Salander did not mind waking up with her and their having breakfast together.
That excerpt was from the beginning of chapter 18. It’s literally one page out of the 644 pages in my paperback version, so .1% of the story, in other words. Whereas in this 3 minute, 46 second trailer, even at the most conservative calculation that only includes the unmistakable lesbian references, (five seconds of Advokat Bjurman questioning her partner preference, two seconds of Blomkvist saying “get rid of your girlfriend,” one second shot of Lisbeth kissing Mimmi at 3:06 mark) equals 3% of the total trailer time. If you include all the scenes that I point out above, you get 24 seconds, or 10% of the total trailer time, (one hundred times the amount on the same topic in the book), spent establishing Lisbeth as a lesbian man-hater.
Lisbeth is not an interesting character you might want to watch in a movie because she might sometimes sleep with women. She’s compelling because she’s so thorough in her research, so highly skilled with computers, yet so unable or unwilling to build normal functioning human relationships. She’s tenacious and very tough, yet physically tiny and vulnerable. She has a photographic memory. She wants to know everyone else’s secrets but doesn’t want anyone to know hers. She doesn’t trust authorities. She believes in exacting her own revenge, or revenge on behalf of other people if she thinks they’ve been wronged and she has a way to hurt their torturer. She wears black and has multiple piercings, but it isn’t because she hates men. She doesn’t hate men. She hates bastards.
Why can’t the trailer portray her as the complex and interesting person that she is, instead of spending so much time focusing on and expanding on just one of her attributes, that really has nothing to do with the plot? Why is this an accepted marketing technique, anyway? I mean did you see the way Jennifer’s Body or Black Swan or that season 4 episode of Heroes where Claire kisses her roommate were advertised? You’d see articles, interviews, and pictures popping up everywhere. Like this quote, by Natalie Portman last year in Entertainment Weekly(she’s talking about Black Swan):
“Everyone was so worried about who was going to want to see this movie,” Portman says. “I remember them being like, ‘How do you get guys to a ballet movie? How do you get girls to a thriller?’ And the answer is a lesbian scene. Everyone wants to see that.”
So is it safe to assume that the editors of this trailer took a similar marketing approach? Make people think there will be lesbian sex so everyone goes to the movie? Look, this isn’t a rant against gay or lesbian content in movies. Gay characters can be complex, shallow, relate-able, lovable, despicable, funny, sad, pivotal, or inconsequential, just like any other kind of character. What I find annoying is the tendency in mainstream movies to include lesbianism almost like it’s a gimmick, unrelated to the characters’ journeys or the plot, and then market the hell out of that scene, as if it’s what the movie is really all about. I guess it’s not really any different than the way movie trailers and TV spots always include that shot of the hot girl in her bikini, or slinky dress, or short shorts.
I probably wouldn’t have had a problem with this Dragon Tattoo trailer if I hadn’t been familiar with the source material. If it had been just another original movie, I would have accepted their portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, gone to the movie, and then maybe wondered afterwards why the trailer emphasized her sexuality so much when it wasn’t really a relevant or motivating factor for her. (Unless, maybe in this version it is? Also, I haven’t yet read the other two books in the Millennium series, so maybe I don’t have a completely accurate picture of Lisbeth myself.) As it is, I just don’t understand why the adapters behind this American version felt that there wasn’t already enough intriguing, sensational material in the book, and resorted to the tiresome “Sex sells! Lesbian sex sells even better!” strategy. I think it’s even more annoying in this case because the source material so explicitly states that labels are unimportant to Lisbeth, and this trailer does nearly nothing but label her.