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'Spectre': the Latest Film to Spoil Itself With a Bloated Trailer

23/07/2015 09:33 BST | Updated 22/07/2016 10:59 BST

The synopsis to Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, reads: "A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE."

Well, that sounds intriguing. Eon Productions unveiled that snippet in December, along with director Sam Mendes' stellar cast and Aston Martin DB10. Three months later, the Spectre teaser trailer arrived with no action, Thomas Newman's eerie score and Hoyte van Hoytema's isolated cinematography. The intrigue was aroused.

Yet on Wednesday, two-and-a-half bloated minutes of the main trailer were shotgunned over the internet and the intrigue surrounding a Bond film that could potentially trump From Russia with Love or Goldfinger had significantly subsided.

Spoiler alert: Spectre aspired to be the most enigmatic Bond film yet until it revealed to the watching millions online there would be, roughly, six major action sequences and one character, a 'Whitehall newcomer', would be an antagonist.

An upcoming film about emojis and a Ghostbusters reboot featuring anodyne actresses prove the film industry is in a desperate state, and trailers emphasise this emphatically. Spectre is the latest film to feature an excessive amount of footage at the cost of its plot's fascination.

Film trailers used to be so spoilerific the opening Bond film, 1962's Dr. No, featured what remains one of the series' most quintessential moments with the execution of Professor Dent. In 1956, The Searchers' promotional snippet confirmed John Wayne's journey would end with him coming face-to-face with Natalie Wood's abducted Debbie. Peter Lorre gets shot in Casablanca's theatrical trailer.

Terminator Genisys arguably plummeted to the nadir when it revealed a major spoiler in one of its umpteen trailers in what was the the first admission of the film's predictable woefulness. James Cameron was then (presumably) paid a hefty fee on top of his royalties and wheeled out to endorse the film in a 30-second TV spot, while Arnie then saddled up for a ride with meerkats to promote his latest creaky outing.

The deluge of marketing does not always backfire, though. Jurassic World's trailers were overloaded with reels from its final act yet it is the highest-grossing film of the year and the third of all-time. Its enjoyment was barely diluted, too. Still, 1993's Jurassic Park trailer is a masterclass in building suspense and intrigue - the T-Rex and raptors remain hidden.

Since then, the gulf in trust between filmmakers and the audience has become a yawning chasm. Films are sacrificing their artistic integrity in exchange for a few more bucks and, in the case of certain franchises, the backers fear forecasts could be as unreliable as Michael Fish's in 1987, so opt for aggressive marketing.

Jurassic Park and the Terminator franchises were, in the early-mid 90s, bankable franchises buoyed by their effects. A timeline of cinema's technological advancements would feature the T-1000 and Steven Spielberg's dinosaurs, only their sequels were insipid when expectations had soared. It is no longer easy to wow audiences with special effects, as the hollow, brash and overrated Mad Max: Fury Road showed.

Bond, though, is a franchise that dates back 56 years and is in rude health, thanks to the trust that was tightened with 2012's debonair Skyfall after 2008's dumb Quantum of Solace.

It is disheartening, too, the filmmakers allowed sequences to be detailed in print by one film journalist invited to the set earlier this year - before the teaser trailer had been uploaded. Locations and Pinewood Studios boast enough magic to provide colour.

Some filmmakers are about as helpless as Nick Nack in a fight. A director as fiercely secretive as Christopher Nolan, courted by the Bond producers years ago, could not curb Warner Bros.' enthusiasm for The Dark Knight Rises.

That got a teaser, first and second trailer before a final package, sponsored by one of the film's partner's, was published online. The film's plot, until the last 15 minutes, at least, was easy to decipher from the trailers and one of its major reveals was practically spoiled by a photo agency. The tension was compromised.

Some studios still retain faith. The phenomenally successful Frozen was edited so skilfully and misleadingly it under-sold itself and omitted key characters.

The terrible truth behind Spectre, though, might have already been revealed.