Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book to Film Adaptations: The Movie Trailer Edition

Fact: I'm a sucker for movie trailers.  I love them.  They're my favorite part about going to the movies.  It follows, then, that I would appreciate movie trailers that are well made.  My definition of a well made movie trailer is:
  • One that does not give away the ending of the movie. 
  • One that does not assassinate the plot or any key story lines before I've even seen the film.
  • One that does not set up misleading expectations. (To this day I am convinced this is why M. Night Shyamalan's The Village did poorly at the box office.  The movie is fantastic, but poor advertising made audiences expect a horror/thriller flick, and were therefore confused and annoyed when they got a love story.  Nevermind that it's a spectacular love story.) 
  • One that does all the above and still manages to show why this movie is different from every other movie.  (Read: why I should see this rom com instead of the 83,460,879,074 other rom coms being released this year.  Without revealing the ending.)
  • One that features people chanting in Latin the background.  Just kidding, Latin chanting is not a requirement.  Though it never hurts...
I think this is actually a lot harder than it sounds.  Movie trailer creators have to cram an entire movie's themes, energy, mood, and conflict into about a minute and a half.  And yet, some really pull it off.  Great movie trailers are their own stand-alone versions of entertainment, not just advertisements.  Which is why I like them.   

When it comes to movies based on books, I am no less critical.  In fact, I think trailers of movies based on books sometimes have an even harder job to do since much of the audience will already know how the story ends, and will therefore need greater incentive to pay money to watch a story they're already familiar with.  

Difficult though it may be, some trailers of movies based on books really knock it out of the ballpark.  Here are some of my favorite trailers of films based on books:

The Hunger Games
This trailer is near perfection.  The trailer makers cleverly focused the trailer on only the events leading up to the games, only offering a tiny glimpse into the Arena in the final seconds of the trailer, even though most of the film takes place there.  You know the stakes, but you don't know how everything will turn out, which makes you want to see the film.  The Catching Fire trailer was not as good, in my opinion, but that doesn't matter as much since everyone who saw the first movie (read: PRACTICALLY EVERYONE IN THE WORLD OVER THE AGE OF SEVEN) will want to see the second.  

The Phantom of the Opera

This trailer is one of my favorites.  It gives only fleeting images from many scenes from the film, and relies primarily on the music to convey the story's plot, tone, and tension.  A wise choice, since the story is primarily about music.  The costumes, sets, lighting, and cinematography are all moody and sumptuous, but their purpose is to visually compliment and enhance the music.  Everything comes together for a really lovely trailer.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

With perhaps the most passionate fan base EVER, this final film of the Harry Potter series had a LOT of expectations to live up to.  This trailer promises high energy, great effects, and epic battles.  As the eighth film in the series, many fans had become quite attached to these characters.  This trailer doesn't reveal who dies, but is pretty upfront about the fact that not all the characters are going to make it out alive.  There's no Latin chanting, but the music in this trailer is really perfect, from the eerie opening chimes of the familiar Harry Potter theme to the pulse pounding anthem accompanying the rest of the trailer.  Well done.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

This trailer is on the long side, which sometimes is a bad thing as long trailers tend to reveal too much.  This trailer succeeds, though, by jumping from Frodo to Gandalf to Aragorn to Arwen, etc., and showing glimpses of their struggles while still connecting each character together with lines like, "We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms.  Not for ourselves.  But we can give Frodo a chance."  It makes us want to give Frodo a chance too.  And that last little carrot showing Sam crying out in despair?  I die.

War of the Worlds

Seriously, man, the Latin chanting gets me every time.  I actually like this trailer better than the film.  The trailer is intense, and it really sells the movie.  I like that they never actually show the aliens in the trailer.  It gives you a reason to see the film.  If you've ever read War of the Worlds, you know that the tone of the book is very different from the tone of the movie, so you might not even know this movie was based on a book until they reveal the title at the very end.  The tone shift may have been a misstep for the film, but it made for a great trailer.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Man, this movie really racked up the hate from reviewers.  Did you know it has a score of 12% on rotten tomatoes?  12%!!  You know what else has  a 12% score?  Jonah Hex.  Ever heard of that one?  Me neither.  Maybe it wasn't the greatest film, but I'm really confused at how poorly it did at the box office.  So poorly that the sequel probably won't be made.  Where did all the Cassandra Clare fans go??  Anyway, despite how poorly the film did, the trailer was really great.  It shows the parallel worlds Clary lives in and her place in them, gives glimpses of the mysterious people she must ally with , the supernatural villains she's up against, and promises some thrilling battle scenes.  Plus, it stars Lily Collins.  I kind of adore her.  It's really too bad this film didn't deliver because based on the trailer it could have.  It's a shame.

Also, in case you were curious, here's the new Maleficent teaser trailer.  I don't think it merits favorite status, but the cinematography, costume design, and the music are looking/sounding pretty good.  

Any favorites I left out?


  1. I saw the first Hunger Games, and I don't want to see the second. (please still be my friend!)

    Also, I think the LOTR trailer is that long because that movie is at least five hours long. I know it claims to be just over three, but it's at LEAST five.

    (do you want me to stop commenting on your blog yet? hahaha.)

    1. Hahaha, NEVER stop commenting! I respect your choices on what books/films you want to read/watch. I, however, will most most definitely be seeing Catching Fire, even though I'm a little nervous about it.

  2. I love this post! I'm with you 100% about trailers being the best part of going to the movies. I also completely agree about The Village - absolutely fantastic love story.

    And now I must to go back and re-watch a lot of these movies... :)

    1. Haha, writing this post made me really want to start a movie marathon, but I can't decide which series to watch.

  3. Amen to the loveliness of The Village. I didn't love the first Hunger Games but I'm actually looking forward to the next one, mostly because I really have come to love Jennifer Lawrence. Harry Potter does not wrong in my eyes and anyone who says differently is a communist.


Hi! Thanks for your comment! I am currently being hit by a large amount of spam, so I've upped my comment moderating settings for the time being. I will revert back to more comment friendly settings once the spammers go back to the gutters from whence they came.