The Two-Hour Trailer

The Two-Hour Trailer

Bring the Storytelling Back to Movies

I first started noticing it when I saw “Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.” The book is a classic, the trailer looked cool, so I went out to see the movie- and it felt like a two-hour long trailer.

Hollywood movies throughout the 90s were pretty formulaic, but it was a good, solid formula in terms of the storytelling. There were characters and conflict and a story arc, and (most importantly) it all happened with a sense of pace and timing that closely matched the story they were trying to tell. If a main character died and another one dropped to his knees and yelled “NOOOOOO!” at the heavens (a Hollywood favorite), then you could at least expect them to have tried to get you to care about both characters first.

 

This was different, and it seemed disturbing. Things seemed to happen at arbitrary times and for arbitrary reasons; characters did things I couldn't make myself believe they would do. The pacing was off and it all felt fake, as if it had been put together by someone with no sense of story. Unfortunately it turned out to be the shape of things to come, and now it seems as if most Hollywood movies (not all, but most) feel like extended movie trailers. Someone I don't know or care about dies. Someone else yells “NOOOOOO!” There are multiple explosions. Someone else I don't care about jumps from one building to another, then falls in love with a complete stranger before shooting twenty people.

 

Just for the record, I have nothing against a good explosion (although I'm really not sure why they would put one in a Three Musketeers movie!) or a thrilling shoot 'em up. I just prefer it all to happen in the context of a story of some kind, where interesting people face interesting challenges for believable reasons and respond to those challenges more or less like actual human beings. Hollywood movies in the '90s weren't always great, but they did at least live up to that standard to some degree.