Godzilla, Transformers and How Trailers Play With Our Emotions

I like action movie trailers more than I like action movies. I don't have anything against mindless violence mind you, but I do have a serious issue with wasting two hours of my time on bad plots, questionable dialogue, and shaky special effects. A trailer gives me a better return on investment; sure I may not get the money shots, but I also don't have to sit through all the "acting" either.

Of course, occasionally a trailer looks so cool it's enough to trick me into watching an action film. Sometimes the end result is good (300) and sometimes the end result is real, real bad (Terminator: Salvation). There should be awards for the guys who put together great trailers for bad movies.

We're still a bit away from the Summer blockbuster season, but I must confess that two trailers have really stuck with me lately, but not in the ways I expected. One is for a movie that I know will be awful, perhaps beyond awful, and yet I find myself defending the movie based on the trailer. The other is a movie that I think will be good, that I hope will be great, but that I fear may not be either.

Let's talk Transformers: Age of Extinction and Godzilla.

Let me start off by saying that I don't hate the first Transformers movie; it's big and dumb, but big and dumb in a fun way. The effects are too over the top and I hate most of the characters, but it's a giant robot movie and it mostly works. I also don't hate Michael Bay; the man directed Bad Boys 2, and that's enough to get a pass from me. If he wants to go all Peter Jackson on his career and keep pumping out bad franchise movies for the rest of his life, that's his call and I'll just not watch.

And I haven't. The first Transformers flick sated any desire I had to see giant fighting robots. I haven't watched the two sequels that have already come out, I haven't bothered to watch Pacific Rim yet even though I own it on blu-ray, I haven't even revisited Robot Jox, my personal pick for best awful giant robot movie of all time.

But then I saw those damn robot dinosaurs in the Super Bowl spot, and suddenly I wanted giant robots back in my life. And I know this is a bad idea. I know I'll be mad every time Mark Wahlberg has to say some poorly written piece of dialog. I know I'll complain every time the robots do anything because the special effects are so overdone I can't actually tell what's going on.

But come on people: we're talking about a giant robot with a giant sword riding a giant dinosaur robot. That's every 5-year-old's daydream materialized at the cost of millions. That's worth at least an illegal download waiting for it to hit Netflix a ticket at the dollar movies.

Maybe. Fool me once and all that.


Let me start off by saying that yes, I did just write a few weeks ago that I think

Godzilla is going to be awesome

. I still think that. It has all the tools to be the Godzilla movie that fans of the original deserve and hope for. It has the potential to be something special.

Which is why I can't figure out why I'm so cold on the new trailer.

I suspect that the reasons that I'm about to suggest are the exact same reasons other folks are excited about it. They are as follows:

1. Not Really Feeling Scared Bryan Cranston - Make no mistake- people would be downright horrified of Godzilla. He's a force of nature come to destroy. Still, this feels a whole lot like exposition pretending to be serious acting, and right now it just doesn't work for me. Hopefully in the context of the film it will be better, but it feels like one of those obvious movie trailer "have someone explain the movie" moments and that's kind of a bummer.

2. So is This a Reboot or a Sequel? - If you'e ever watched the original 1954 Godzilla, there are a couple of things in this trailer that should feel real familiar to you. Enough so that it seems very likely that this is a direct sequel to the '54 film. Of course, if that's the case, that brings up all sorts of weird questions like "how did they hide the fact that a giant lizard destroyed a major city so well that no one today knows anything about it?" and "60 years later and no one has a reliable anti-Godzilla defense system?" Maybe the script has some really smart answers for this but until the movie comes out I'm not looking forward to the endless Internet speculation.

Still, the movie does look great. There's plenty of destruction and what looks to be some serious loss of life, which is what Godzilla needs to be truly frightening. Also, it's good to see New York, New York in Vegas get attacked for once instead of New York proper; that city has seen far too much celluloid violence.

Yes, I'll still be there opening night for Godzilla, excited to see the beast rise from the water to wreck shop. I still think it has the chance to be a great movie and not just a great blockbuster. I'm certain it'll be better than Godzilla '98. I just wanted something more from this new trailer.

Maybe the next trailer will make me feel better.

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