Sunday, July 1, 2012


There is a trailer for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES on the DVD of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS which I purchased yesterday. I have not seen the APES film yet, although I want to. I have heard nothing but good things about it.

But I have a couple of issues with the trailer for the film. The first is that the trailer pretty much tells the entire story of the film, as do many other contemporary trailers. I'm sure there are some twists and turns and narrative surprises but by and large, pretty much everything you need to know about the film is in that trailer. I still want to see the film but I kinda wish I didn't already know so much about it.

My second gripe with the trailer is that oh-so-ubiquitious and oh-so-annoying "chorus of angels" music on the soundtrack. You know what I mean, that soaring chorale of chanting voices, building and soaring and swelling into a crescendo that portends extremely dramatic, nigh-upon apocalyptic events of dire import.

Almost every sf/fantasy/horror film trailer of late has used this trope as have some action/adventure/disaster films. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see it used to sell a kids' dog movie if the producers thought it might work.

It has become, in short, a cliche. A gimmick that might have worked once or twice if used sparingly has now become a teeth-grindingly annoying presence in practically every trailer out there. If you think I'm exaggerating, next time you're in a theater or watching a trailer on a DVD at home, pay close attention to the soundtrack. Odds are you'll hear those blasted "choir of angels"voices soaring and chanting, their cries lifted unto the heavens to sell a movie based on a kids' board game. Enough already.

My final gripe is that while I enjoyed X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, watchingit  at home served to point out something I've noticed about many modern films, especially those based on comic books. That is, that they tend to be over-produced in terms of music and sound effects. I swear, there was not a moment of silence in the entire film. Every scene had special souped up sound effects and music. Not one or the other. Both. Every scene. I don't mind it so much in action scenes, but in quieter, character driven moments, the music and sound effects were constantly there.

This seems to be a problem with modern films. Their budgets allow for the use of these devices and the filmmakers simply can't resist the temptation to over do it. But it hasn't always been this way. I can think of three scenes in three classic films that used no music whatsoever, only the natural sounds of the action being depicted, to brilliant effect. I'm sure I can probably come up with more examples but I'm going to tease you with these three for now.

Clues to the identities of the three films I have in mind are as follows: one had no sound the first time it was made, the second features a "mad" man and the third film's title character is a card cheat (among other vices). Let me know your guesses and I'll give the correct answers (and elaborate on the spotlighted scenes) next time.

No prizes for guessing correctly other than my respect and admiration.


  1. You got it Bob! Nice work. I'll elaborate more on the film in an upcoming post. Keep reading and keep sending feedback. Thanks!