Film trailer analysis – ‘The Expendables 3’

The Expendables 3 is the third and final instalment in the ‘Expendables’ film series, (partly) written by actor Sylvester Stallone, who stars in the movie.

As an all-guns-blazing ensemble action film, this trailer is fast paced, laden with effects and is accompanied by a loud soundscape; huge sound effects, cheesy dialogue and edgy music and like the majority of action film trailers, offers no insight into what the main plot is, due to the fast paced and possibly non chronological order nature of it.

The main body of the trailer is, as stated already, fast paced clips of the big events that take place in the film. As your standard action film, it has the typical conventions: big guns, big explosions, big vehicles, reckless men, women that are only considered as objects and unequal, violence, fast shots, long shots, big box office draw (this cast includes many household names) etc, etc.

The edgy, loud music and fast paced camera shots create an unsteady atmosphere; you cannot predict what might happen next. In some places, the dark, murky lighting also contributes to this. The title cards that flash over at different points in the trailer tie in with the general theme, dark and also edgy colours. The use of the font on these (bold, outlined, large text) is really in your face, fitting in with the whole concept of action films.

Not dissimilar to any other action film, the narrative is really quite simple. It follows Tzvetan Todorov’s classic narrative theory. It is suggested that the film starts with an equilibrium, the status quo, where any opposing forces are in balance. At a later point, this is disrupted, setting in a chain of events. Problems are solved, the action (in this case, we assume, a big battle/fight) takes place and eventually an equilibrium, or a new equilibrium comes into play.

A typical stereotype of action film heroes is that they are big, muscular, have some sort of background in combat or intelligence and are either past their best or out of work. The person may be black or white, the race is not stereotyped, but their individual traits definitely are.

Gender isn’t really represented fairly. Males are dominant, and prominent in this film trailer. Women are’t present in the big action scenes, and are only seen really as the helper/donor (Propp’s) or a lover in action films.

The film suggests that the resolution and new equilibrium is found through violence and fighting, the only way to do it, and once that’s done and the bad guys have gone, only then will normality occur/reoccur.

The institution is advertised at the start of the film, a big title card saying ‘Lionsgate’ who are the distributors of the film. The last part of the trailer also displays the distributor and studio etc. Although not very prominent in the trailer, Lionsgate is a big corporation with other huge-grossing series of films, those who know about them will be attracted by the name due to their previous films.

The trailer has a massive audience. Action films attract a wide range of people due to the big names in them and the concept of heroes vs villains. The primary target audience however, would be males, aged 14-30 (even if they are too young to watch it), as the main characters in the film are males and those in the age category will have heard of the actors that star in the film. They would be engrossed by the trailer as it displays a lot of typical action conventions and features all the main stars. The secondary audience would most likely be females that have an association with a male who likes these types of films and would probably be watching the trailer on recommendation before they go to see it or watching it with the male.

The psychographics would be those that are fans of the main actors, fans of the Expendables series and those who are interested in very physical or extreme sports.

Reuben Christy O’Connell


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