Tag Archives: movie marketing

Divergent Trailer Is Not Very Divergent

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, a butt shot?

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?

 

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Trailer Music: X-Men: Days of Future Past vs. Star Trek Into Darkness

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?

I am not aware of the origin of this song of who wrote it, and I haven’t been able to find any credible information on it yet, but this doesn’t strike me as such an egregious trailer music choice as when Man of Steel used the score from Gandalf’s death scene.  Maybe this is just one of those songs that gets featured in trailers a lot.

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A Capitol Error

The marketing for the Catching Fire movie, sequel to The Hunger Games, has been mostly great so far.  (Well, despite that Finnick mis-step).  This week, they’ve been releasing individual cast member photos in Capitol Couture style.  The first was Effie Trinket and premiered on the Capitol Couture tumblr, which is designed to front as if it is a fashion blog existing in the universe of the Hunger Games series.  (Even its url, .pn, is a nod to it’s location in the fictional country of Panem.)

Effie Trinket's Capitol Couture portrait.

Effie Trinket’s Capitol Couture portrait.

These portraits started off really strong.  They featured characters like Ceasar Flickerman, Cinna, and our first official glimpses at Johanna Mason and Beetee.

We got a new picture of Katniss, which I thought was fantastic, styled in an extravagant white gown that I assumed was one of the 5 wedding gowns she’s made to model for the Capitol audience’s voting pleasure so they can select which one she should get married in.  I mean she would obviously never style herself this way.

Katniss Everdeen's Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Katniss Everdeen’s Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Peeta matches Katniss in an all-white outfit, and is seated in a chair the same style as the one she’s standing beside so that they can be easily photoshoped together.  His boots even look to me like they could be hiding a prosthetic leg, if you want to pretend the first movie didn’t drastically alter the extent of his Arena injuries.  Maybe Katniss is standing because she’s the one who takes the most active stance against the Capitol, but maybe Peeta’s sitting because he’s the one who got stabbed in the leg?

Peeta Mellark's Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

Peeta Mellark’s Capitol Couture portrait for Catching Fire.

But then, everything in this wonderful, creative campaign was tainted when they threw in a picture of Gale.

Gale Whatshislastname's inexplicable Capitol Couture portrait.

Gale Hawthorne’s inexplicable Capitol Couture portrait.

Gale’s inclusion in this series makes no sense on a number of levels.  Firstly and most obviously because Gale never goes to the Capitol.   How would he have the opportunity to be styled and sit for this picture, and why would the Capitol be interested in profiling him anyway?  Gale is known to the Panem television audience only as “Katniss’ cousin,” hardly on the same level as Game fixtures like the mentors, stylists, tributes, or announcer like all the other featured characters in this series are.  Gale would definitely not be featured before Prim, at least.  (Maybe there’s a Prim picture yet to surface?)  I mean, yes, I know that in reality the actor Liam Hemsworth would pose for whatever promotional pictures his contract stipulated, and that the movie’s marketers want to emphasize him because he is an important figure in Katniss’ life (and because they’re trying to encourage a Team Peeta vs. Team Gale Twilight-esque atmosphere), but they’re the one who set this whole portrait series up as if it were coming from the shallow drama-obsessed Gamemakers of the Capitol!

Now they’re just completely undermining themselves, because this inclusion of Gale–holding a single white rose, which appeared to mark Tributes at the 75th Annual Hunger Games, until his out-of-place picture showed up, and no it doesn’t make sense to say “well then the white rose symbolizes those who rebel against President Snow”, because if that were true then Haymitch and Cinna should each have one as well–only forces me to be reminded that this whole thing is for a movie and despite the promise of creativity is actually being handled the same annoying way Hollywood handles everything.  Reduce complex characters and interpersonal relationships to BOY LOVES GIRL, MAYBE!  Assume that the audience is too stupid to pick up on nuance or notice blatant inconsistencies.  Never let a main character wear protective headgear for an entire battle sequence, etc.

I mean would it have killed them to feature Gale some other way, in some other campaign, or in a solo image styled and released separately?  I’m not the only one that noticed this discrepancy, by the way; many of the comments on Gale’s portrait at fansite Mockingjay.net point out the same thing.  What do you think?

I don’t think I would be so frustrated if they hadn’t been on such a spectacular streak with the let’s-pretend-the-Capitol-is-a-real-place campaign, until this point.  Maybe they’ll have it mastered in time for the next film, though.

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Panem’s Anthem

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

Although the national anthem of Panem is mentioned several times in the books that make up Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, the lyrics are never revealed.  (Mostly it is referenced in the text when it plays in the Arena at night, just before the faces of that day’s dead Tributes are projected into the sky.)  For the film adaptation of the first book, music and lyrics were composed that played during the propoganda film at the Reaping as well as the Tribute parade at the Capitol.  It’s very hard to make out the words when listening to the soundtrack, but if you watch the special features “Post Production” segment on the special edition DVD, there’s a clip of the chorus recording the anthem.  After watching that clip over and over, I am pretty confident that these are the lyrics:

O Horn of Plenty,

A Horn of Plenty for us all!

And when you raise a cry

The brave shall heed the call

And we shall never falter.

One Horn of Plenty for us all!

(My submission is in line with the general consensus on what the lyrics are over at the Hunger Games wiki.)  I don’t understand why they don’t just officially release the lyrics somewhere.  Someone obviously went to all the work of composing a song that could very plausibly be the national anthem of a totalitarian dystopian fictional government, so why not celebrate that?  Officially releasing the lyrics could have been a useful marketing tool, to drum up excitement and discussion leading up the movie’s release about how well they fit the Panem we know from the books.

For the record, I think these lyrics fit the story perfectly.  It’s an infuriatingly disgusting piece of hypocritical propaganda, but what else would you expect from a government that allows some citizens to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, (Capitol citizens), while subjugating the residents in all other districts to increasingly severe levels of oppression, including food shortages, forced labor, little or no educational opportunities, and limited electricity and medical supplies, not to mention mandatory participation in the Reaping for all non-Capitol citizens between the ages of 12 and 18, oh and if you try to rebel they’ll cut your tongue out and you’ll become an Avox slave.  The distribution of wealth and resources is appallingly lopsided, with the Capitol overflowing and many district residents starving, and yet the anthem asserts unity and “plenty for all!”

It’s likely that many naive Capitol-dwellers actually believe these words represent the ideals their country strives for, that they feel patriotic when the Cornucopia symbol is featured in the Hunger Games prominently every year, not realizing the twisted irony that it’s overflowing with killing weapons instead of food.  And I can totally picture someone like Seneca Crane superimposing the line “the brave shall heed the call” over an image of a dead Tribute, thinking it’s a respectful and appropriate homage, and pampered Capitol-dwelling viewers sniffle for a second while they watch the memorial footage reel of the same Tribute, before they get distracted by the latest gossip or fashion trend or a mirror.  Meanwhile the dead Tribute’s parents and friends back in their home District interpret the same words as a threat, a reminder, that if they try to rebel against this terrible injustice to them and their children, the better-equipped, more-powerful forces of the government will “never falter” in crushing them back into submission.

There are two specific passages in the books that vividly illustrate the gross inappropriateness of the Capitol to claim, through their anthem’s lyrics, that theirs is a nation of “plenty for all!”  The first is found in chapter 5 of  The Hunger Games:

Cinna invites me to sit on one of the couches and takes his place across from me.  He presses a button on the side of the table.  The top splits and from below rises a second tablecloth that holds our lunch.  Chicken and chunks of orange cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions, rolls shaped like flowers, and for dessert, a pudding the color of honey.

I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home.  Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey.  I’d need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange.  Goat’s milk would have to substitute for cream.  We can grow peas in the garden.  I’d have to get wild onions from the woods.  I don’t recognize the grain, our own tessera ration cooks down to an unattractive brown mush.  Fancy rolls would mean another trade with the baker, perhaps for two or three squirrels.  As for the pudding, I can’t even guess what’s in it.  Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version.

What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?  How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?  What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?

I look up to find Cinna’s eyes trained on mine.  “How despicable we must seem to you,” he says.

Has he seen this in my face or somehow read my thoughts?  He’s right, though.  The whole rotten lot of them is despicable.

Cinna is unusually sensitive to the hypocrisy and injustice in the system, for someone in the Capitol.  It’s certainly not the norm for Capitol-dwellers to be aware of the food shortages in the Districts, much less sensitive to the idea of conserving resources.  The following excerpt is from Catching Fire, chapter 6:

“Why aren’t you eating?” asks Octavia.

“I have been, but I can’t hold another bite,” I say.  They all laugh as if that’s the silliest thing they’ve ever heard.

“No one lets that stop them!” says Flavius.  They lead us over to a table that holds tiny stemmed wineglasses filled with clear liquid.  “Drink this!”

Peeta picks one up to take a sip and they lose it.

“Not here!” shrieks Octavia.

“You have to do it in there,” says Venia, pointing to doors that lead to the toilets.  “Or else you’ll get it all over the floor!”

Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together.  “You mean this will make me puke?”

My prep team laughs hysterically.  “Of course, so you can keep eating,” says Octavia.  “I’ve been in there twice already.  Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?”

I’m speechless, staring at the pretty little glasses and all the imply.  Peeta sets his back on the table with such precision you’d think it might detonate.  “Come on, Katniss, let’s dance.”

….

We’re quiet for a while.  Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.

“You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they’re not so bad, and then you–” He cuts himself off.

All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can’t give.  Food.  More food.  Now that we’re rich, she’ll send some home with them.  But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway.  And here in the Capitol they’re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again.  Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food.  It’s what everyone does at a party.  Expected.  Part of the fun.

My outrage when reading this scene is very similar to the disgust I feel when I consider the shamefully dishonest lyrics of Panem’s anthem.  And that is why they are perfect.

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Stop Trying to Make “Katnnick” Happen. It’s Not Going to Happen.

Entertainment Weekly has revealed their exclusive first official look at images for Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games.  Let’s analyze:

This new cover features Sam Claflin as new cast memeber Finnick and Jennifer Lawrence returning as Katniss.  Finnick is a previously victorious Tribute from District 4.  Spoiler alert–but really how are they going to market this film without letting people figure this out–the 75th Annual Hunger Games Tributes are reaped from the pool of existing victors.  So Finnick, along with Katniss (and Peeta, whose photographic absence I’ll get to in a bit) must return to an Arena and fight against 23 Tributes to the live-televised death.

This time the Arena is–spoiler alert–mostly water, with the cornucopia on an island in the center and a strip of land around the outside of a circular sea.  That’s why their outfits this time are basically wetsuits, although that’s not quite how they were dressed in the book:

This year’s tribute outfit is a fitted blue jumpsuit, made of very sheer material, that zippers up the front.  A six-inch-wise padded belt covered in shiny purple plastic.  A pair of nylon shoes with rubber soles.

The purple belts (which double as flotation devices) probably wouldn’t look particularly sexy, but in the book, the thin jumpsuits are easily ruined and they end up running around in their underwear most of the time.  So the change to wetsuits for the movie is maybe an even trade-off, but I don’t think they’re very flattering.  And it looks like they’ve included built-in flotation devices, like the bulge visible on Katniss’ elbow in the picture above, instead of the belt.   But speaking of book vs. movie aesthetics, you know the movie is going to either leave out the part where they are covered in scabs which are covered by goopy medicine, making them look like they’re “decomposing”, according to Finnick, or they’ll minimize the scabs so they don’t cover their faces, or they’ll strategically place just one wound above Finnick’s left eyebrow or along his chiseled cheekline.  You know they’ll keep him looking hot the whole film, and if they include this line from the book, it will be humorous for more than one reason:

“Poor Finnick.  Is this the first time in your life you haven’t looked pretty?” I say.

“It must be.  The sensations’s completely new.  How have you managed it all these years?” he asks.

Personally I think Finnick looks great on this cover, although from what I’ve seen in the blogosphere so far that doesn’t appear to be a unanimous opinion.  My only complaint about him is that the wetsuit makes his abs and hips look bulgy when I’m pretty positive they are not.  (Attention, Catching Fire marketing executives: you’d better release a shirtless Finnick picture so I can be sure.  For research purposes.)  I’m more inclined to nitpick this presentation of Katniss: why is her hair so shiny and her bangs so straight and perfect, like a Barbie doll?  (It does appear to be the same style braid that she wore in the first film.)  Her face looks more angular than usual–how much did they photoshop it?  Look at the line between her chin and her neck.  And now you can’t stop staring at her huge neck, right?  Necks are weird.

The second exclusive picture from EW is also of Finnick and Katniss, but this time it looks like they’re in Tribute training.  I thought at first that this was the infamous sugar cube scene, but they would be dressed (or mostly undressed, in his case) in their parade outfits if it were.  Still, this picture has that same vibe, with him flirting to tease her and Katniss trying to ignore him and not blush.

quote about sugar cube

“Hello, Katniss,” he says, as if we’ve known each other for years, when in fact we’ve never met.

I mean, this picture looks great for that, but what worries me is the total absence of Peeta in either of these first official pictures.  Peeta was what I was most worried about for the adaptation of the first book, and he was only okay in the film, which is a problem because–spoiler alert–Peeta Mellark is THE BEST.  Even Katniss thinks so:

In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict.  While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me.  Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.

“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.

“Yeah, yeah,” I say brusquely.  “No question, he’s the superior one in this trio.  So, what are you going to do?”

The movies are already off to a bad start doing Peeta’s character justice, and with this marketing it’s like they’re not even giving him a chance.  And how many people are going to look at this and think that Sam Claflin is Peeta?  If they didn’t read the books, if they only saw the movie once, or if they’re only familiar with The Hunger Games through pop culture osmosis?

I hate that these two images are presenting Finnick and Katniss as a couple.  Finnick is an audacious flirt, but he has a true and tragic love, and it’s not with the Girl on Fire.  It was already annoying that they tried to market Katniss-Gale-Peeta as a Twilight-esque triangle when deciding between two boys is so not the bulk of her dilemma or even something that she’s willing to spend time thinking about.  She’s preoccupied with, oh, I don’t know, little things like providing for her family, protecting her sister, staying alive, resisting tyranny, trying to make the self-sacrifices that don’t come naturally to her.  And Finnick turns out to be much more complex than the superficial sex-symbol persona he projects.  He’s got his own secrets and form of resistance.  The relationship between Katniss and Finnick dances between ally and enemy, not “will they-won’t they,” (unless you end that phrase with “kill each other.”)  Meanwhile, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta takes significant steps in Catching Fire, and the total lack of Peeta in either of these pictures is not making me feel confident that the movie will handle him any better this time around.  Couldn’t they have at least included him in the second picture, looking jealous, annoyed, or amused in the background?

Why do the people behind this design feel the need to add fuel to the fanfiction, non-canonical fires?  “omg, Katniss and Finnick, so hawt together!!!” the easily-persuaded, annoying peripheral fans now scream.  NO.  STOP IT.  Go read the book so you can fall properly in love with Peeta, since apparently the movies aren’t going to give you the opportunity.

**update** Two more pictures have been released, (you can click here to see them at EW.com), and we finally get a glimpse of Peeta.  It looks like he and Katniss are on their District tour; I would guess they’re in District 11 and Katniss is looking down at Rue’s family.  The way Peeta is looking straight ahead and there’s a gap between him and Katniss is probably good for that scene but it’s not doing anything to combat the Katniss+Finnick implied narrative of the first images.  The second new picture is Gale being restrained by two Peacekeepers in the center square of District 12.  The Peacekeeper’s uniforms look live they’ve been restyled a little big from the first film, but they still basically look like Stormtroopers.

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What Do Gandalf And Superman Have In Common?

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.

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The Girl With The Lesbian Dragon Tattoo

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.

What do you think?

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Eight Hunger Games Posters

I really wanted to make a pun in the title about hunger and eight-ate, but I couldn’t think of a good one.

So, yesterday Lionsgate released eight character posters for the Hunger Games movie (which is scheduled for a March 2012 release date.  March 23, I think?)  I’m not going to repost all the pictures here, at least not right now, because they’re everywhere and also I don’t have time to download and caption them all right now.  You can easily google them I’m sure, or you can see them all collected here.

My thoughts: I kind of like how overly-airbrushed their skin is.  I mean they look almost like plastic dolls, but it’s kind of great because that’s totally how the Capital would market their tributes!  That was certainly one of the traits of the rotting society’s elite, that they were overly obsessed with superficial appearances and the first thing that happened to newly selected tributes was that they got a makeover.  Looking at Katniss, Peeta, Rue, and Cato’s posters make me believe I’m seeing something very close to what the Capital would have produced to promote their 74th annual Hunger Games.

Of course, not all of the character posters released were actually tributes.  I expected to see Gale, it totally makes sense to see one of Effie and Cinna (I forgot they cast Lenny Kravitz as Cinna!  I think he looks pretty good, he’s styled right for the character anyway), and then there’s Haymitch.  He looks great, too.   I think it’s a little strange that we got a Cato poster and not a Prim one, because I consider her a much more important character.  She influences Katniss’ motivations and actions in a crucial way, but screen-time-wise I guess I can concede that Cato will be featured more than Prim in the movie adaptation of this story.  We won’t be inside Katniss’ head as much, hearing her think about Prim.  And surely Prim will be featured on a poster yet to come.

Rue’s poster is my least favorite.  I don’t like how her shoulders are pushed so far back so her chest sticks out.  It’s how I imagine the Capital would want her to pose, to seem more womanly and attractive, but she’s just a little girl.  She should posed more innocently.  Maybe that’s what they were going for with the downcast eyes, innocent and vulnerable?  She’s the only one not looking straight forward in this set.  But in the books, Rue doesn’t shy away from the challenge of competing against kids that are bigger and stronger than her, she is resourceful and determined.  I don’t picture her looking down.  I think it’s going to take away from her character if the movie makes her weaker in order to make Katniss look more heroic in her protection of her.

My sister pointed out to me that Katniss is facing the opposite way from everyone else, which is fabulous because of course she is a rebel, going against the grain, turning all of Panem down a new path.  PLEASE let us see a real trailer, soon!

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