At least that's what they're meant to do. But as we all know, they mostly show all the good parts, give away all the big plot twists and leave you knowing exactly how it's going to end. And then you still pay to see these movies, and have the audacity to grumble about how you'd seen the highlights in the trailer.
Which is why my all-time favourite trailers are for 'Alien', and even more so - 'Aliens'.
|One of these people is not like the others. Actually, two.|
****SPOILERS. But c'mon, this film did come out in 1986.*******
For most part, the character development and the interchange/conflict between them is what makes 'Aliens' really tick. For example: Hudson - the loudmouth who becomes an emotional wreck, finally going out in a blaze of glory in the final showdown with the beasties. Bishop: Do we trust him? Ripley doesn't: for one good Ash-shaped reason. He seems nice. But then...Burke. He makes lots of promises, seems to believe Ripley, but hey - he's willing to kill everyone! Frost - the likeable trooper who is the first to bite the big one. Heck, we liked that guy! (Thus telling the audience that NO ONE IS SAFE.) Gorman - aloof, anally-retentive leader whose lack of experience brings him back down to earth with a bump - and learns what it is to be part of a unit. Vasquez and Drake - the company's loved-up, hard-nosed gun-nuts who have the honeymoon cut short by a well-intentioned shot and a gallon and alien acid blood. Hicks - seemingly the handsome hero who becomes the leader, only to be rescued by Ripley.
Or, to give a visual example:
|Hudson: We're on an express elevator to hell!|
|Hudson: Game over, man!!!!|
|Hudson: DIE MOTHER*&£"#$*|
|Ripley accidentally treads on Hicks's foot for the 32nd time.|
Even the posters give nothing away.
What's Ripley looking at?!
I've previously harped on about the good ol' days before t'internet - with most films these days wanting the audience to know EVERYTHING about the movie before they've even seen it. The 'Aliens' trailer is a master class of letting the visuals do the talking. And that to me isn't just great advertising, but great story-telling too.
*Side-note. The teaser trailer for Alien 3 is just mis-leading: Implying that the story will take place on Earth was just uncool. Which, again, is another good lesson for writing - especially when it comes to loglines and pitching - make sure the idea you are pitching IS actually the story you are selling!
|The bug hunters; in happier times. Before it all went wrong, like.|
|"A day in the marine corp is like a day on the farm." |
The boys suspect Apone may have been lying.
|This time it's your turn.|
Have you got the right mix of characters and conflict in your story?