Good Hands

October 6, 2011

You may have already seen this Gears of War 3 trailer on TV, but if not, watch it right now — it only takes about a minute.

You’ll get chills if you go into it wanting chills.

There. I just got chills again.

How about you? Nothing?

All right, go back and re-watch it, but this time, go into it with the knowledge that this brief trailer covers roughly 15 years of these characters’ lives (you’ll see Dom’s beard “grow” as the trailer progresses).

Watch how the single, unbroken tracking shot gives the impression that these soldiers have been fighting virtually non-stop for years.

Watch the transformation of Marcus, the main character in the trailer. Watch, at the beginning, the nod he gives right before he tosses the grenade — his expression confident, self-assured, a little cocky even.

Then watch his face at the end, 15 years (and two games) later, as he surveys the chaos and destruction around him — his expression a mixture of weariness, disbelief, hopelessness, and, lastly, determination.

Watch the brief glance he shares with Dom, his brother in arms. There isn’t time for anything more — and nothing needs to be said.

So go ahead and watch again — I’ll wait.

Still nothing? Either you’re made of stone, or I’m getting too sentimental in my old age.

(I’m going with the latter. I’m probably about two years away from sobbing uncontrollably at the end of the end of those schmaltzy Folgers commercials — and not for the same reason I currently sob during Luvs’ “Poop, there it is” commercial, which I would classify more as Rage-Sobbing.)

Anyway, the Gears trailer is awesome — and this from someone who has never played any of the Gears games (for a variety of having-kids reasons) and who probably won’t play Gears of War 3. For this post, I had to look up the names “Marcus” and “Dom,” and I learned about the 15-years thing in a comment following the video.

And that, more than anything, is why I admire the trailer so much — it moved me even though I have absolutely no knowledge of the story, no history with these characters.

I know one thing for sure — if the rumored Gears movie ever happens, I’ll eagerly go see it. I’ll see it because, if the same artists who created the game and the game’s trailer are responsible for the movie, I’ll be confident that I’m in good hands. They’ve absolutely won me over.

Now, the quality of a trailer does not necessarily forecast the quality of the movie (see Watchmen), but it’s often a pretty accurate indicator (even though directors typically don’t cut the trailers for their films — maybe quality inspires more quality).

For instance, no one could quite figure out how they were going to pull off making a movie about Facebook, but then that Radiohead trailer debuted, and we realized we would be in good hands.

In 2005, there was a trailer that began with a pretty interesting premise — a wanderer, journeying to distant, snow-capped mountains to train with a secret society of modern-day ninjas — when HOLY CRAP THAT’S BATMAN! After years of nonsense, we knew that the bat man was going to be in good hands.

It works the opposite way as well. This weekend, the Jilb and I saw What’s Your Number? (not Dolphin Tale as the Jilb claimed in Monday’s post — that was a trick). The trailers I’d seen beforehand had hit all the usual cliches — a bad sign since lazy trailers typically mean lazy movies — so going in, I had the feeling I was in shaky hands.

And shake they did — like an electric football game sitting on a running washing machine in the bowels of an asteroid that is not entirely stable.

Which trailers have left you feeling as though you would be in good hands?

Which trailers have left you feeling shaky?

Which movies ended up deviating (good or bad) from the feeling you had gotten from the trailer?

And am I allowed to be a fan of Gears of War without having played any of the games?

— Reinman



  1. The Marines doing maneuvers to open the A few Good Men trailer and Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer with a building ablaze behind them in the Tombstone trailer. More recently Jeff Bridges saying “I can’t do nothing for you, son” with the Johnny Cash song playing. Coincidentally (or not), that is the same song playing in Jeep commercials that always makes me want a Grand Cherokee.

  2. Great picks.

    And speaking of older trailers, have you noticed that old movie trailers don’t age nearly as well as old movies themselves?

    In fact, they’re often laughably bad, even ones from the ’90s and early 2000s.

    I wonder why that is. Is it because there’s more money put into marketing now (thus, more time and effort put into trailers)?

    Or might it be that trailers are built solely on creating anticipation and hype, and once you’ve seen a movie, the anticipation dissipates?

    • I think the opposite is true sometimes. I.e., I like the trailer only after seeing the movie. I think it was that way for Inception. When I saw the trailer the first time, I probably said, “meh.” Then, I watched the movie and loved it, and now seeing the trailer makes me remember what I loved about the movie.

      As for the game, the trailer seems to have no effect on me, but I’m more intrigued with the title, “Gears of War”. What exactly is a gear of war? More importantly, I’d really like to invent a new literary device called machinification — attributing mechanical qualities to something that isn’t a machine.

  3. No, they were pretty much crap. The all started with the same line: “In a world.” So a romance would start with a deep voiced speaker saying “In a world where she never found love…” or a historical drama “In a world where the people had never had peace.” or an animal comedy “In a world where a loving family couldn’t live without their giant dog named after a famous composer…” maybe not the last one. But still crap.

  4. Another trailer comes to mind.

    “Where the Wild Things Are” — The trailer is great! The book is great! I didn’t like the movie . . . at all.

    Maybe that’s what happens when you take a short childrens’ book and turn it into a full-length feature film. There was only enough material there to make a 2 minute trailer.

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