The Call (“My Rant About Previews”)

27 Mar

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Synopsis: “When a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.” (Rated R; 1 hour, 35 minutes)

Previews. What are they actually good for? In the best of times they whet your appetite for a movie without giving much away – some form of a teaser. In the worst of times, when you finish watching an ad you may turn to your friend and exclaim, “We just saw the entire movie!” Sadly, The Call is a prime example of this latter model.

We audiences are such confused beings. On the one hand we’ll sit there excited to watch each one, but at the same time every one of us has left a movie wishing we hadn’t seen the previews that clearly gave away too much. My friend Jared recently told me that he’d actually prefer to not know anything about a movie going into it because it seems to be much more fun not knowing what’s going to happen, or even what it’s about.

To help give you an idea, here is a breakdown of the movies I see each year, and how much I knew about them based on previews:

80% I’d seen enough from the previews to know the main plot, and the FUNNIEST jokes in the movie were given away (if a comedy); or the main developments of “what happens” was plotted out in advance if it’s a drama.

10% The previews showed so much, that it felt like watching the CliffsNotes version of the movie, leaving you to wonder if there was any reason to have actually seen it (The Call being a perfect example).

5% Like a breath of fresh air, the “coming attractions” were left either as teasers, or showed only montages of images which gave away nothing…variations of this can be previews that showed an entire long scene from the movie, but spoiled nothing else.

-5% Somehow I’d managed to not see a single preview for the movie before it came out, and it was completely new to me.

I can easily tell you that the last two that I listed above are far and away the most refreshing the rare times I experience them. How awesome it is that I get to actually see a movie and NOT know what’s going to happen next! I read an article at one point where a studio was being attacked for choosing to market a movie giving away major spoilers, and  their reaction both surprised and disappointed me: “It has been tested and proven that those ads that give away too much information work to pack people into the seats more than anything else”. So they’d rather ruin the movie if it sells more tickets. I can’t even blame them since it’s obviously all about making the most money; but how incredibly disappointing if that’s true, and people really want to see things more when all surprises have been removed from their movie-going experience!

Here is my experience watching The Call earlier tonight:

(Please note I do not consider this to be a spoiler because I will only repeat what the previews ALREADY showed. If you somehow haven’t seen a preview and plan to see the movie, feel free to skip this next part so you have a shot at actually seeing something with an element of surprise!)

Opening scene, a girl is kidnapped while on the phone with 911 operator Halle Berry. Yep, I knew this was gonna happen, now waiting for Halle Berry to get the girl killed by calling her back and the bad guy obviously hearing the phone ring (bonehead move when you see the preview, and still a bonehead move by Halle Berry when she does it in the movie). Okay, opening scene complete, now can we please move onto something I didn’t KNOW was about to happen?

Next girl, Abigail Breslin (aka Little Miss Sunshine all grown up); oh yeah, time for her to get kidnapped by the same guy. I saw that in the preview too. Okay, this is still acceptable I suppose because it’s only about 15-20 minutes into the movie. Let’s see something unexpected. Wait, right, I remember now. She’s going to call Halle Berry from the trunk of the kidnapper’s car, and be told to stick out her arm from the car to attract traffic. Got it, c’mon Abigail Breslin, show us something we didn’t know was going to happen…Oh look, there’s Michael Imperioli (aka Christopher from The Sopranos)…oh no, I remember, in the preview he’s sideswiped by a car or something that hits him and looks deadly. Right, guess he’s not around for long. Bummer. I remember, the bad guy lights up another guy at a gas station, and look, they’re stopping at a gas station now, maybe this is a different scene? Nope, same scene, guess the guy will get lit on fire like I saw in the previews.

Okay, 3/4 of the movie has happened, that MUST be all I know from the previews, right? Nope, I remember very clear images of Halle Berry taking the investigation into her own hands, and even though she’s “just a 911 operator” in the movie, she snoops around and finds the kidnapper. Yep, guess what, that brings us to the LAST TEN MINUTES OF THE MOVIE!

Seriously…I just told you absolutely nothing that wasn’t in the preview S-P-E-L-L-E-D out, and it included the start, middle and END of the movie, it’s out of control! To clarify, there are times that scenes and images from the start, middle and end of the movie are in the preview but they are glimpses, shown out of order, and you end up knowing NOTHING going into the movie. This is different from a preview like this where it’s in chronological sequence and told like an abridged version of the movie itself. If the market research really proves that this is what gets people into seats more than just teasers, then I simply don’t understand the mindset of the typical movie-goer, because it sure as heck annoyed me, Adi and Jared when we saw the movie together.

And here’s the thing that you probably didn’t see coming after all of this frustration I’m spouting: It was an exciting movie! Really. An adrenaline rush. Somehow in the midst of knowing every bloody scene that was about to happen, the director Brad Anderson did a great job of creating suspense and excitement that sustains itself for most of the movie. At face value this looks like it will be a movie only fit for 3 A.M. on Cinemax, but it actually worked. The acting was nothing special, but served its purpose. Abigail Breslin was endlessly terrified, and that was effective enough. Halle Berry didn’t do much to write home about, I was more impressed by her roles in the underrated (and confusing) Cloud Atlas. Morris Chestnut simply takes over the same boring role as a cop that he just played in the comedy Identity Thief. The bad guy though – played by Michael Eklund – was VERY creepy, in a super-tormented psychopath kind-of-way. I was so surprised by the taut excitement that Brad Anderson created, I went to look him up as soon as I got home. It turns out he was the indie director who made that incredible performance-piece movie The Machinist, where Christian Bale famously turned his buff physique into a disgustingly emaciated body. Interesting to see the journey this director has taken since then, going very mainstream here, but still making a very exciting movie as I said.

I need to clarify though: the ending of the movie, with Halle Berry finding the bad guy herself (as the previews showed), was crazy. And not in a good way, but in a “you’ll be yelling at the screen for its being so ridiculous”. The audience had been quietly watching the movie up until then, and yet suddenly during the absurd ending you could hear tons of laughter and incredulous “what the hell?!” exclamations from everyone. So basically a good movie was given a ridiculous ending, and was spoiled by tons of previews. Yuck. What a shame…because it really was fun.

The scariest thing when all is said and done? I know I’d be better off never watching another “coming attraction”, but if I have to be honest, I’m still going to try my best to get to the movies early; because gosh darn it, I just REALLY enjoy watching those darn previews!

The movie was better than Phone Booth, an entertaining but stupid movie where Colin Farell was trapped in a phone booth talking the entire time, much like Halle Berry & Abigail Breslin here. It wasn’t as good as Buried, where Ryan Reynolds is buried underground with nothing but a cell phone to call for help. Very exciting little movie!

Quality Rating – B (Good suspense, okay acting. Just can’t give a higher grade with such a ludicrous ending. I’m trying not to let the spoiler-filled previews affect my grade)

Boaz Rating – A- (Everything that I said positively about the movie, as well as everything I complained about was equally entertaining to watch; just not all of them were for the right reasons)

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10 Responses to “The Call (“My Rant About Previews”)”

  1. amhausman March 29, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Just saw The Host after rereading the book. We enjoyed it (my sister was with me) but I don’t know how someone who hasn’t read the book would feel about it.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor March 29, 2013 at 4:05 am #

      Well, I can see The Host is getting pretty bad reviews, but you know that won’t stop me from seeing it and telling you what I think myself! 🙂
      I will look at that link you gave with your reviews for sure!

      Like

  2. amhausman March 29, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    You are so tempting me to start a TV and movie blog. Here’s the reviews I wrote for Tail Slate: http://www.tailslate.net/author/aliza-hausman/

    Like

  3. michaelnight33 April 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    First of all, and I choose this movie to do it, thank you for the great comment and for following me! I look forward to perusing your blog and checking out your movie reviews. Secondly, I saw the previews for this movie and I was kind of excited to see it… It looked suspenseful and interesting. Too bad to hear it’s pretty spoiled by the trailer. But thanks again, and I’ll be checking you out a lot more!

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      It WAS suspenseful and entertaining, it was just laid out in the preview as over-the-top spoiled as I described in the blog. Wish I was exaggerating. LOL
      I’m so flattered you’ll be reading, comment anytime, it’s appreciated!

      Like

  4. brockingmovies May 8, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    I actually did read this one not too long ago, but I had an ADD moment and that is why I didn’t comment on before because I got distracted by something else. I read this review even though I haven’t seen the movie because I figured that there is not much that anyone could give away about this movie that the preview didn’t do already. Keep up the writing and I’ll keep up the reading.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor May 8, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      No worries, I love the comments but you’re welcome to give feedback as little or as much as you’d like. And yes, the preview showed ALL of it, to an insane degree!

      Like

      • brockingmovies May 8, 2013 at 2:01 am #

        I like Abigail Breslin, but Halle Berry is usually hit or miss.

        Like

  5. boazconstrictor May 8, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    Oh yeah, she’s put up some real stinkers. 🙂

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Oz The Great And Powerful (“My Take On Eagerly Anticipated Movies”) | Boaz's Movie Obsession - April 3, 2013

    […] give away too much information about the movies (as detailed in my recent rant about them here). I still watch those previews and turn to whoever’s next to me and say, “I can’t […]

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