Normally I only write a trailer takedown when the trailer itself is both a poor showing and acting as herald for what will no doubt be a terrible movie. In those cases, there are usually some pretty clear indicators that the film in question is going to suck. Things like product placement in the trailer – I’m looking at you Oblivion – a shaking camera, or smash cutting every sixty frames so there are seventy scenes in a two minute trailer.
Fury Road’s trailer doesn’t have any of these problems. The first thirty seconds of the trailer is a slow zoom on Max standing with his back to the camera. We don’t even need to see the chaos that is soon to follow to get a sense for the post-apocalyptic nightmare that is at hand. Speaking of which, let’s watch the trailer.
What has me so unsettled about this trailer is the fact that it really makes me want to see Fury Road. This is the world we live in. The new normal is that a movie trailer makes me not want to see a movie. When a trailer sells the final product as something between intriguing and good, I don’t trust it.
There’s also the fact that on statistics alone, the Mad Max trilogy isn’t very good. Despite all the love and nostalgia people carry for the first three movies, there’s only one of them that is worth watching, and that’s The Road Warrior. Nobody needs to see Mad Max. Mad Max is as long as it is dull. Its salient plot points are summed up in about thirty seconds of The Road Warrior’s prologue. And I think we can all agree that very little good came from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, except for this:
Returning to my original point, what about this trailer makes me want to see Fury Road? First and foremost, the trailer doesn’t telegraph the movie. Most trailers flash enough tropes on screen to make the story as transparent as anything. Fury Road gives me a sense of the central conflict without hammering away on the details or invoking cheap gimmicks.
Which brings me to my second point, Fury Road’s trailer sells the hell out of The Road Warrior’s aesthetic. Recall the respective wardrobes of the refinery crew and the Great Humungus’s gang as a reflection of order and chaos in the waste land. The refiners have their all-white desert kit, suitable for reflecting the sun in the day time and keeping a person warm at night. Meanwhile the Humungus gang look like extras from low-budget fetish porn. Road Fury magnifies the latter by an order of magnitude. Notwithstanding the half dozen Daenerys Targaryens that we see in frame, the message is clear, there is no order left in this world. Chaos governs everything, even the movie’s apparent protagonists.
Third, the trailer makes implies a movie that wasn’t by amateurs or Michael Bay. Even though there are car crashes and explosions galore, the action moves through the frame rather than the frame trying to follow the action. For all the carnage at breakneck speed, the camera itself is mostly stable. There is intelligence in the filming, and where there is intelligence in the camera work, there is often intelligence in the screen play. All this gives me hope that Fury Road won’t turn out to be Shaking Camera Presents: Greasy Tits and Fast Cars Blowing Up: The Movie.
My obvious worry for this movie is that Warner Brothers hired a great trailer editor and what we’re seeing is a bait and switch for Shaking Camera Presents: Greasy Tits and Fast Cars Blowing Up: The Movie and it looks a lot like Fallout so maybe that will get the kids to come see it.
I want this to be good. The trailer gives me hope that it will be good, but I also wanted Transformers to be good, and it’s so easy to take an over the top premise like this and make it stupid.