TRON: Legacy comes out this Friday and along the path to the theatrical release I have found myself more and more drawn to the film. I’m firmly on the bandwagon but I still find myself very apprehensive about how it will all play out. Amidst the staggering press and publicity we’ve seen a long running (and confusing at times) viral campaign, trailers TV spots, video game tie ins etc. Basically Disney spared no expense and some are starting to believe that this kind of money thrown at a product may be falling blindly into that “too big to fail” mentality. Granted people out there really LOVE Tron but I didn’t think that it had the fan base that would justify spending over $150 million on a sequel 28 years after the original.
Seeing the Tron for the first time just last year (I liked it) I am very excited to see how they improve/expand on the story but I do so heeding one newly minted personal rule: “Don’t Over-hype Anything“. I’ve written before that a trailer can get people excited to see crappy movie and conversely how they can turn away an audience from a film that is actually very good. Now I think we’ve all had, at the very least, one experience where our expectations of a film failed to play out as we would have liked. Whether the trailer misled us to disappointment or some other factor is irrelevant, but whatever the case some movies just don’t meet our expectations.
While I am optimistic for Tron Legacy, I am cautiously so because I easily recall my three biggest let downs of recent years – Quantum of Solace, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and this year’s The Expendables. All three films, which probably had the unfair advantage of being over-hyped to begin with, were far different outcomes than most fans (myself included) were expecting. They all made tons of money but overall most fans have been left disappointed. Further, in the case of Transformers we as an audience were flat out insulted by how the film killed what the first one set up. But maybe that’s the hype that we either buy into or create ourselves…and that’s what I want to attempt to figure out with this post.
So here’s my question: Is it news hype and trailers that mislead the audience to make the movie something that it isn’t or do we just over think and imagine something grander than the studios can produce??
Had substance, but lacked style…and an interesting plot
To try and find an answer to my own question, I want to touch on the subject of our expectations of film rather than dwell on a our opinions of a film’s outcome for now. Where ever a movie’s inspiration comes from, be a book, TV, show, short story or news article etc. the film’s development will take on a following of its own and people interested in to see the movie will start forming their opinions early. They’ll determine, with each bit of progress released, if they are still on board or have decided to move on to something else.
So why, in any case, do some us (myself included sometimes) unfairly and without sufficient substance take firm stances so early? Brand loyalty is one answer, but what if it’s for a movie with an original premise. What if we made out Inception to be the greatest movie ever and it didn’t deliver (thankfully it delivered in spades)? Also, how do we keep ourselves from being these insatiable critics of something that is too out of context to fully appreciate the development prior to the films release. I think deep down we want things we like to succeed so we, in some cases, hope against hope for something to do well. But hoping for so long can really only end in disappointment because if the movie is 99% great, we’re still upset that the last1% isn’t fulfilled…as well as the missing extra 10% we were hoping for.
Had style, but severely lacked substance
Many trailers are misleading and show you what the creative team making them wants you to see (notice the difference between the original Tron trailer and this fan made one). That puts all the high points right in your face and you should get an idea of what the film is going to be. The problem there is that they follow a sort of formula so you are getting a preview of the movie that is not necessarily where the film is headed. The most misleading trailer that I can recall is for Burn After Reading. In my opinion, it was severely misrepresented so after seeing the trailer I thought the film was going to be a laugh riot, not the sadistically dark comedy it turned out to be. And, maybe it was just me but that’s the problem I have with trailers. Don’t show me great things when the movie itself isn’t great. I know movies are made to make money and the studios try to advertise so that a film brings in the money, otherwise if the movie was crap and people knew that from the trailers, then no one would see the film.
Our brains, when we aren’t given the whole story, try to connect ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’. Such is the case with trailers and that’s always going to be misleading. When our ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ doesn’t play out on screen, we get disappointed. Trailers should give more of a sample of the movie in series, so we get a better interpretation, rather than just high points which may or not be representative of the story we’ve yet to see. Its that interpretation that will guide us, (lull us rather) to choose one film vs. another when standing in front of the box office window.
Sometimes we gravitate toward something, surrounding a movie, be it the idea, a plot line, an actor, but regardless of what it is, we have a tendency to make something more than it is because our mind is constantly spinning and thinking about it. Then, like most things in life, the fantasy of something is much more entertaining and appealing than the reality. For me personally I was pining from the day after I saw Casino Royale to the day Quantum of Solace opened. During that time I built up the movie to be so great that I was actually quite disappointed with the outcome because it failed to live up to what I expected it to be. In the end maybe I was wrong and can’t blame the trailer for me not liking the movie, but in other cases the trailer IS the culprit.
Lacked both style and substance…good action/explosions though
Maybe the problem with our disapproval of what we consider a sub-par film is that we (thanks in large part to the Internet and the constant info/need for information) imagine and expect so much more than what we get and that’s why some films’ outcomes are letdowns. Revenge of the Fallen was just stupid (despite it’s surprisingly successful inceptor), Quantum of Solace, to me, failed to live up to the first film in so many ways and The Expendables was lacking in nearly every aspect of film making save for the intense all out action it promised.
With hope I wait for Tron Legacy to hit the theaters yet I do so with reserved excitement and fewer expectations. Based on a few of the examples above I know enough not to put 110% faith in an unseen product. I really hope it does well both as I’d hate to see this be yet another example of the reality killing what our imaginations have been crafting all this time.
So to end this, I’ll ask you all: Have you ever hyped a movie up to be more that is? Have you ever kept a vigil for a movie that ended up being terrible? What are the films that really disappointed you?? Anyone have mixed feelings about Tron Legacy??