28 June 2012


Sometime a while ago I stopped paying so much attention to movie trailers. In fact, I more or less now ignore any available information (you might call it "hype" or "previews") prior to watching a great many of them, and believe me, it's less easy to do that in these days of social media and instant connectivity. I can think of at least three movies I paid good money to see (as opposed to the many, many, many I borrow from libraries or stream online) without knowing more than the very sketchiest background about them. This is unusual for me, since I usually expend a fair amount of effort into decisions about the things I buy, whether they be shoes or laptops or cars*.

Just today I watched Chronicle, on DVD. The movie was enjoyable enough, but I was surprised (and a little disappointed) to find the only special features included were a handful of trailers and previews, Prometheus among them.

I haven't watched that yet, and would prefer not to do so, despite hearing and reading interesting conversations about that film which most people have already seen (and formed an opinion regarding). While this does exclude me from no doubt enjoyable discussions and discourse about films, I don't think I'm missing out more than I gain from my (for lack of a better word) ignorance of movies before I watch them.

Two of the bigger, and more "recent" (I don't get to the cinema much these days) films I knew little to nothing about, were also two relatively successful blockbusters. Other than knowing from childhood that Iron man was a flawed hero (often mentioned as having a drinking problem) from comic books I didn't read, and knowing what his suit looked like, I didn't know anything about the film, but enjoyed it thoroughly. For most of its fans, watching the movie was more like the culmination of months of preview photo leaks, and canon arguments, and no doubt rumor mongering about star Robert Downey Jr's (Tony Stark-like) foibles on and off the set. Did they enjoy it more or less for having encountered that stuff? I don't know. The same goes for The Dark Knight, which I knew was about Batman, and I had seen did not carry over the logo from the (otherwise presumably dead) last iteration of the movie franchise. I still haven't watched Batman & Robin, and frankly have no intention of doing so, based on what I have heard about it. But when my father-in-law visited and wanted to watch it (apparently his wife didn't particularly want to see the film) I went with him anyway.

And wouldn't you know it, it was a great movie. Everything I saw was a surprise, down to the new Batmobile (I'd doodled the 90s version in many a school notebook) and all the other neat stuff. No doubt there were pages after pages and videos of the chases and other cool scenes, probably even in the trailer, but I hadn't seen any of it. And liked the movie all the same.

Prerelease movie content isn't always that easy to avoid. I block online ads, don't watch broadcast television or commercial radio, and I frequent movie discussion sites, but there are some times it's nearly unavoidable. I went to see John Carter recently, and actually closed my eyes (and considered humming too) to deliberately miss the trailers, one of which I believe was for The Avengers, which I won't be seeing for quite some time.

People have been discussing how good (or bad) John Carter was shaping up to be, and how well (or terribly) it came out, for a long time now, and I've opted out of reading most of those first because I've never read the old Burroughs novels, and thus have no major preconceptions of the stories or characters, and second because I'd rather not prejudge what some people have said is rather quite a fun movie.

And you know what? I liked it. When I get around to watching The Avengers I'll probably enjoy that too, but I'm in no hurry to see any of it before I actually sit down and watch it.

* The only other categorical exceptions are books and music. Typically I only buy a book well after I've already read it, and only then as, I suppose, some sort of trophy. Similarly the only time I buy an album anymore is well after I've already sampled it online (or borrowed it from the library) and know for certain that I like it. I buy so little music and so few books as a fraction of all the things I buy, so I wouldn't say they count.

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