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On Culture: Why I’m not a fan of movie trailers

I’ve never been one to be completely wowed by movie trailers. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a trailer and found myself exuberantly anticipating the film it promotes.

As someone who has been reviewing and reporting on films for nearly two decades, I know it’s best to have low expectations for all movies – no matter how excited the trailers get you.

I bring this up because, in the past couple of weeks, trailers for two heavily anticipated films have been making the rounds. The second official teaser for “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” the continuation of George Lucas’ iconic space opera, popped up, complete with light sabers, storm troopers and Harrison Ford as an older Han Solo. Fans went nuts over it – as of this writing, it has racked up 46 million views on YouTube.

Alice Osborn, Raleigh-based writer, editor and all-around “Star Wars” fan, certainly dug it.

“It played the right music,” Osborn said. “It was evoking the ‘Return of the Jedi’ line where Luke (Skywalker) says, ‘The force runs strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it.’ So you’re calling back to the original movies, which is a really nice touchstone because most ‘Star Wars’ fans think that the prequels are garbage. And it’s important that what (director) J.J. Abrams is doing is he’s saying, yeah, I’m acknowledging that and I hear you ... and we’re going to go to the originals.”

While people were rejoicing over the “Star Wars” trailer, not a lot were feeling the trailer for “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which leaked online before Warner Bros. could play it for audiences during a “trailer event” at IMAX theaters across the country.

Fans weren’t exactly enthralled at the stormy sight of Ben Affleck’s caped crusader ready to do battle with Henry Cavill’s man of steel. Gary O. Smith, a Franklin County-based 3-D graphic artist, was one of them.

“I really got some strong, frivolous flak with Warner Bros. in the way that they have been handling their DC superhero franchise,” Smith says. “I mean, that trailer is so negative and so generic and so repetitive, because it’s a bad sign they’re not progressing with the times. They’re not being respectful to the general market because they are living in 1986.”

The reactions remind me how much emphasis we put on movie trailers these days. It seems the minute they circulate, countless articles and YouTube videos get churned out online where people dissect and deconstruct every second of the trailer. And, of course, you have people on social media ready to chime in, all amped up to dispense their accolades or grievances about the two-minute sampler they’ve been given. I get the sense people often forget that the trailer isn’t the whole movie.

Matt Prigge, film and tech editor for Metro US, says that while moviegoers know that a trailer isn’t the movie, it is a substantial part of it.

“It’s just become, like, kind of part of a movie,” Prigge says. “It’s the advertising and the trailer and, then also, just people following step-by-step every step of production. Like, I kind of feel like, at this point, it’s just that’s officially now part of the movie experience.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten to the point where the Hollywood hype machine has burned me (and the public) so many times with spectacular trailers for heavily-buzzed-about blockbusters that I much prefer to not let any (possibly) false advertising get me all charged about a movie. As we officially slide into the summer movie season, when multimillion-dollar, loud-and-noisy studio films will bombard multiplexes, complete with a collection of jaw-dropping trailers that will unspool before each feature presentation, keep in mind that the trailer is not a representation of the movie itself.

Perhaps people should save their complaints or comments about the movie – when the actual movie comes out.