EnderThinkingIt: Teaser Trailer Tropes

Welcome to EnderThinkingIt, where we subject (one particular part of) the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn’t (but in this case definitely does) deserve.

Ender’s Game is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it when I was 11 or 12, and have read it (at least) once a year since then. So suffice to say I’m extremely excited – and extremely apprehensive – about the November 1 release of the film adaptation of the book. The excitement because I think the story has the potential for to make an amazing film. The apprehension because it’s the kind of story that could EASILY be botched, especially given the way movies are made these days. So expect to see me blathering about Ender’s Game a lot in the next few months.

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And with a teaser trailer scheduled to drop next week, I figured it was time to roll out my coverage/nerdiness. There are a lot of common “tropes” that we’ve come to expect from trailers, particularly for genre films like EG promises to be. So: What tropes will I be looking for next week? And what will it mean for Ender’s Game if we see it?

Sights

  • Bullet time (a.k.a. slow-fast-slow action sequence)
    • This is almost inevitable, given the heavy emphasis on both the Battle Room and in sweeping space battles. I’d be shocked if they didn’t incorporate lots of fancy CGI camera angles and the slow-fast-slow style of editing to show some of the battle room sequences.
    • Odds: 3:2 in favor
  • Lots of shiny space ships doing battle
    • One of the things I’ll be most looking for is the ratio of Space Battle vs. Battle Room sequences. The core of the book is really the Battle Room and Ender’s experience in it. That said, those are probably a lot harder to film (or make convincing CGI).
    • AND it’s a lot harder to sell toys if you don’t have some cool looking space ships on both sides of the battle. I’m very very worried that the movie will shift a lot of the action out into space, instead of on the characters that the book paints so well.
    • Odds: 2:1 in favor (ugh) 
  • Space ship/station crumbling into pieces
    • This one’s less likely only because of the contours of the plot of EG, but if they decide to show scenes from the First or Second Invasion, we’ll see it for sure.
    • Odds: 5:1 against
    • BONUS: If it’s immediately followed by characters running from an explosion
  • Character jumping towards a ledge/object/vehicle while the camera speed slows down
    • See above for the Space Battle / Battle room ratio. Obviously the battle room has lots of jumping off of things and reaching for them, so we can hope to see some of these.
    • Odds: 2:1 against
  • Explosions
    • Honestly, there shouldn’t be that many, since so much of the book happens at a remove from the “battle”. That said….
    • Odds: 2:1 in favor (see Space battle, shiny) 

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Sounds

Modern trailers are required by law to have (at least) one of the following sound effects:

  • “Wub-wub-wub”
    • The dubstep, oh god, the dubstep.
    • Honestly, I’d actually be surprised – that’s always been reserved for the movies that want to show just how XTREME they are, and Ender’s Game is (at least I hope) a little more reserved than that.
    • Odds: 5:1 against (Pleeeeeease) 
  • “Braaaaaaaahm”
    • Every trailer since Inception.
    • This sound is typically meant to show just how awe inspiring or mind-blowing something is going to be. It could be used to show off the Battle School or the Battle Room, so I wouldn’t be surprised, but I get more of a “Look how great this is” vibe from the marketing than a “We should all be terrified” vibe.
    • Odds: 3:2 against 
  • “Beeeeooooooooouuu (Dropping bass note)
    • This is typically accompanied with the “jumping into space” or “slow-fast-slow” action sequence referenced above, and I’d be shocked if it wasn’t used to show someone leaping headfirst into the Battle Room (or, God willing, feet first – the enemy’s gate is down people!!)
    • Odds: 10:1 in favor

 

Voiceover

Enders Game is not THAT well known of a property, and voiceover is always the best way to do your world building, so we’re no doubt going to get some sort of Basil Exposition style voiceover. The only real question is whose voice will it be? EG has two high-profile actors that could plausibly have some good exposition in Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley.

  • Harrison Ford: 3:1 in favor
    • He’s the big name, especially if you’re trying to sell a movie about space. Graff makes more sense as a character as well, since he does most of the introcution to Battle School in the book. 
  • Ben Kingsley: 3:1 against
    • He could still be the voiceover, especially since the trailer is dropping just after Iron Man 3 is scheduled to come out, and they might wish to capitalize on it. 

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But what will the voice over say?

  • “In a world….”
    • This went out of style years ago, and the world is worse for it.
    • Odds: 20:1 against 
  • “Only you can do it Ender” (or derivative therof)
    • Odds: 5:1 in favor 
  • “Is this all just some sort of GAME to you?”
    • Odds: 11-billion-ty:1 in favor

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Plot points I’ll be looking out for

  • How much Bean? There were rumors that the movie will double up with Ender’s Shadow, but I think those have been quieted down. So probably not much. Sorry Julian, maybe next time.
  • Will they show much of the Buggers?
  • Will they show any of Peter/Val’s sub-plot?

Anyway, I’m excited to see the trailer, excited to see the movie.

 

14 Comments on “EnderThinkingIt: Teaser Trailer Tropes”

  1. Pasteur #

    Now you’ve got me excited! Right now there are an infinite number of possible trailers, just waiting to be actualized.

    My money’s on “no voice-over”, but that’s a long shot.

     
  2. Will #

    I like how everyone read this book as a kid and how bookstores sell it to kids, when it’s actually one of the most adult-oriented books I’ve ever read.

     
    • Ben Adams #

      That’s very true. It’s why I keep rereading it every year – I got a lot more out of it as an adult than I did as a child.

      It’s a shame that I think now EG is marketed primarily as a YA novel in the same vein as The Hunger Games. Just because the characters are children doesn’t mean that children are the only audience for it (in the same way that men don’t mind reading about female protagonists as much as publishers think we do).

      Even worse, most of the sequels to EG are VERY adult – woe to the parent whose kid enjoyed Ender’s Game and picks up “Speaker for the Dead” (another GREAT novel, but certainly not intended for children).

       
    • fenzel #

      When I was a young man, everybody wanted to read adult books with serious themes.

      Now that I am an older man, everybody wants to read children’s books about sex and dating.

      1 Corinthians is really blowing it this century.

       
      • Grim_ungainly #

        I think if first century “childhood things” included more YA fiction and less corporal punishment and getting the mumps, that particular passage may have been slightly different.

         
        • fenzel #

          Dude, that’s YA gold right there. Is it a girl book or a boy book? Did the Mithraic Mysteries have some sort of demon she or he can make out with?

           
          • Grim_ungainly #

            “You have the head of a lion, and four wings. You’re always holding a key and a scepter. There’s a snake wrapped around you… I know what you are.”
            “Say it…out loud. Say it!”
            “leontocephaline.”

             
  3. Grim_ungainly #

    This is the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine?!? Dear god, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw an exploding helicopter.

    As much as I like the set and costume design, Ben Kingsley with face tattoos makes me a bit anxious.

     
  4. Seminymous Coward #

    I think space battles can be easily included without much, if any, disruption. The climactic strategic simulations will just be in futuristically amazing resolution, enabling them to be shown as though they were footage of the real thing. It makes perfect sense, too. The characters were if I recall correctly, in different rooms communicating remotely to coordinate at that point, so that could be gracefully handled with in-character narration/commentary over the simulation footage.

    Also, there’s something more spectacular than a space station explosion that may take that slot in the trailer. In fact, I’d take a bet in favor of it.

     
  5. Jasin Nazim #

    First i was psyched, now you’ve made a game out of it I am PSYCHED.

    I think you missed a couple predictions

    1. Presence of choir music
    2. Choir music increasing in tempo right up to the climax explosion
    3. Post-title gag/ one-liner

     
  6. DanAlt #

    My problem is that ever since I learned what a reprehensible human being Orson Scott Card is, I can’t bring myself to read or watch anything he’s associated with. I did and do love “Ender’s Game,” but I’m not going to plunk down a single cent for a movie with Card’s name on it, and I don’t pirate.

    I hate to say it, but I’m kind of hoping the movie sucks, so I won’t be disappointed that I’m not seeing it.

     
  7. starbot #

    I haven’t read Ender’s Game and I haven’t read much about the film version. But it seems like the odds would be in favour of changing the name for the aliens away from ‘buggers,’ or at least absolutely not using that term in the trailers. Unless that is meant to be intentionally jokey – as I said, haven’t read it.

     
    • Erigion #

      They would probably use the proper term, “Formics,” for “buggers.”

      Also, there should have been odds posted for a three point landing. The battle room scenes are begging for it. Hell, we almost got one in the teaser for the trailer.