Trailer Park Brawl 27/04/09


Trailer Park Brawl is our bi-weekly (movie or video game) trailer head to head, this week it’s the battle of best selling childrens book adaptions with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince going up against Where the Wild Things Are.


Kyle: What choice trailers to kick off this new feature of Space Meat. Both are fantasy films – but very different kinds of fantasy films. Both are based on books which I adore. Yet whereas the Harry Potter films are an established series, just how well Where the Wild Things Are will translate to a feature film is a mystery. That said, director Spike Jonze does have the knack for making wonderful films – and this trailer does promise wonderful things.

Where The Wild Things Are trailer makes use of a structure typical of independent and family films, inspiring hope, fantasy and just enough of the story to make you wonder. Visually it looks almost as gorgeous as Maurie Sendak’s art in the book, as it makes similar use of rich brown colour palettes and strong shading. The creature work looks incredible, promising the nuance of CGI and the believability of animatronics and costuming. There’s so much to love here from the faithful creature designs to the adorable way the child runs in his “wild thing” outfit. Indeed, there’s more than a bit of potential for this film to stand alongside Labyrinth and Dark Crystal. And yet, early test screenings found the film to be too dark for audiences – and the happy tone of this trailer does hint that perhaps the film has been recut to pander to the audience. This would be a shame. Joy and wonder is all the more special if there is darkness to contrast it. But I trust Spike Jonze enough to remain very, very excited.

Meanwhile Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is more of your typical action blockbuster trailer: a big grandiose opening, a bit of quiet anticipation and finally a barrage of shots and explosive sound design. But as a trailer it’s all a bit silly. There’s no attempt at making any sense, the lines of dialogue don’t gel and they barely allude to what the plot might be. Having read the book I recognise a great deal of story moments – and the editor of this trailer is clearly counting on people’s familiarity with the novel to generate excitement and tease them with quick snippets of exciting scenes. Indeed, it does look exciting and the visual effects work looks suitably overpowered and violent, all of which bodes well that the film will reflect the mature tone of the book. Yet it was also quite a long book and there’s definitely the chance that the film might be all spectacle and won’t bother to thread the story together. But that’s just extrapolation. Still, as a trailer it is all sound and fury signifying nothing. For me, the winner of this first trailer battle is Where the Wild Things Are.

Liam: I have a love/hate relationship with the Harry Potter series. I love the idea, world and maybe half a dozen of the characters but hate pretty much everything else. Which is why I stopped reading at book 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), that’s right I couldn’t even be bothered finishing off the series. Now while the books had failed me for the last time, the movies I actually enjoyed quite a bit and with the exception of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I felt all were quite entertaining and in some cases even surpassed the book (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). Now this is the 4th trailer for the Half-Blood Prince and each has focus on the action and danger which actually makes quite an entertaining trailer, trusting you have read the book because otherwise you get a 3 minute series of confusing images with a dozen or so spoilers sprinkled in. Let’s just hope the action isn’t as pathetic as the last film.

Just the title Where the Wild Things Are gives many an adult flashbacks of their childhood; it’s still to date one of the most popular children’s books ever written. This is due to its story of a child who escapes his uncomfortable reality for an imaginary forest filled with monsters and adventure. It has an instant reliability to all children who constantly escape into fantasy. The film version apparently takes the message a little further and there were rumours of the film being too dark for children and but you barely even get hints of this in the trailer as it focuses on the wonder of the child’s fantasy and this is accompanied excellently by a song from Arcade Fire. Ultimately I find this to be the superior trailer, focusing more on the emotion of the film then large amounts of imagery or plot information.

Jordan: By the second last book things start to get epic in the Harry Potter universe and it’s good to see the movies scaling to suit. This trailer shows off some great special effects and a lot of plot from the book to cover; this will be something to see on the big screen.

As for Where the Wild Things Are if that music is setting the tone of the film then count me out. The characters and concept look interesting but a presumably predictable plot (kid + imagination = self discovery) leaves me wondering what the more mature audience have to look forward to in this.