Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be endlessly fascinating.
During my movie marathon a couple weeks ago, I saw a trailer for The Lone Ranger (out tomorrow) before my showing of Man of Steel. There’s nothing unusual about this, and I fully expected it, but what I didn’t expect was this unusual take on a trailer instead of something more typical. Take a look, and then read on for my thoughts:
Instead of a standard trailer we instead got a behind-the-scenes look at the film. Now, this is the sort of thing I would expect to see during the “preshow” along with other featurettes/music videos/commercials. But this aired during the “trailer” portion of the event, with the lights down and the cell phones (mostly) silenced. It was a creative tactic, and I’m genuinely impressed with Disney for attempting it.
By this point, we’ve pretty much hit total saturation with The Lone Ranger. It’s hard to imagine anyone who isn’t aware of its impending release, even if they aren’t as excited for it as I am. So in place of more clips that we’re all familiar with, a behind-the-scenes look actually makes a lot of sense. It gives us more than just a clip show, but a real sense of what went into the movies. Some films become more interesting the more we know about their production (The Lord of the Rings) and some become less. In this case I think it serves perfectly.
First and foremost, we get director Gore Verbinski saying that all of the iconic aspects of The Lone Ranger will be present: the silver bullet, the mask, Silver the horse, and “The William Tell Overture”. I could not be more thrilled that “William Tell” will be in the film, as it was an integral part of both the classic TV show and even the radio show that preceded it. But the fact that Verbinski says “It’s in” in such a matter-of-fact way, as if there was no way it could be otherwise, is immensely satisfying. I know from Rango that Verbinski has an innate understanding of the genre, both what is sacred and what is ripe for reinvention, but that statement lets me know he has an equal understanding of The Lone Ranger.
There’s no way Disney could have known this at the time, but pairing a featurette that focuses on the physical and real aspects of filming with the CGI snoozefest that was Man of Steel was absolutely brilliant. If it was blind luck, then clearly the gods are in Disney’s corner. It’s been a year of CGI, both good and bad, and to see actors (and stunt people) really running along trains, standing on cliffs, riding horses and doing the physical part of acting is refreshing beyond words. The best effects can only take you so far. After all, as Jerry Bruckheimer says, “The audience is so sophisticated now, they can tell when it’s CG, they can tell when you’re faking it.”
Along the same lines, there’s a certain sadistic joy in watching famous actors who are making a huge payday get roughed up a little in pursuit of a film. We’ve come a long way since the Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin stunts that put the actors’ lives in serious danger, but it’s nice to see the lengths actors are still willing to go for their craft. While I don’t want Johnny Depp to get hurt, it’s great to see him putting himself out there, even if it means falling off of his horse. (It’s the reason most Jackie Chan movies feature outtakes in the credits. The audience wants to see what was really involved in the making of the film.) The same goes for seeing the actors afraid, and in uncomfortable situations. The greatest part of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was knowing that Tom Cruise really was hung on wires outside the Burj Kalifa, so it’s nice to see Armie Hammer afraid on the edge of a cliff.
When Verbinski says it was the hardest movie he’s ever made, that means a lot, considering he made the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, one of the most expensive and daunting undertakings in film history. As one person says in the trailer, “Epic film, epic journey,” and I think that sums up what this trailer is all about. It’s great to see Disney playing up the journey behind-the-scenes for this film, and in the process trying to set it apart from the rest of the summer fare. Unlike Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness or even Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger wasn’t filmed on a soundstage, but out in the real world, with real trains, real horses, and real action. To me, it makes a huge difference.
What do you think? Does it make a difference that The Lone Ranger was filmed on location in as real a way as possible? Should more films devote their trailers to behind-the-scenes looks? What’s a movie that you appreciate more, knowing about the production, than you would have appreciated without that information? Are you as thrilled as I am that “The William Tell Overture” is in? Let me know in the comments!