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

Save the Children – Most Shocking Second a Day Video

This advert is 1 minute and 34 seconds. In short, the film depicts the effects of war on children. It is a montage, made up of quick clips focused and shot from a close perspective on the main protagonist (however there is no antagonist shown, in other words the child is the main character), a young girl, possibly between the ages of 10-12. This is the only type of shot used.

As said, the shot is focused on the girl, and the clips show the normality of her day to day life, only to be disrupted by the effects of war. For example, it shows her birthday, at some point her playing at the park, at another time it shows her with her friends. This could be considered the equilibrium. Normality. As it plays through the narrative, the equilibrium is broken, and a climax is reached when the war has an effect on her life. The first clip/shot shows her on her birthday, with a birthday cake and her family present singing ‘happy birthday’. The last clip again shows her on her birthday, a year later, in a war zone, with only her mother singing ‘happy birthday’ and a tiny cake with a candle.

This narrative could be categorised under Todorov’s Narrative Theory. Equilibrium (her day to day life) – Disruption of the Equilibrium (news/radio reports on war, attacks etc) – Recognition of the disruption – Attempt to repair the damage (family leaving) – New Equilibrium (forward in time, to the child at what seems to be a refuge camp, on her next birthday).

The denotation of this advert is that children’s lives can be as affected by war as adults. The connotation is that war can spread, and that people may not care as it isn’t on their doorstep. This advert therefore, is designed to increase awareness of these ideas.

The soundscape is of her day to day life. However what it includes is the sound of news on the radio, news on the television, adults talking, jets taking off. As the narrative builds, the soundscape becomes more intense, more and more war sounds are implemented including gunfire and explosions.

The aim of the advert is to make the viewers realise that just because war isn’t happening in their home, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening elsewhere and having an effect on children’s lives. This is shown through the film and by a message at the end. It is trying to get viewers to empathise with the situation that some people are in. Created by the charity ‘Save The Children’, another aim is to encourage people to donate to the charity.

For this advert, the primary audience would be adults with a family. A secondary audience may be younger people, possibly aged between 16-23, who may not have a family that includes a partner and children, who may not be aware of the current affairs/issues with war. This advert can serve as information to them which could possibly increase the number of people who understand these issues.

At different points in the advert, different emotions are represented. Happiness, pride, enjoyment, anxiety, fear, anger, love and sadness are all shown. This again reflects the effects of how war can skew people’s lives, including children, by greatly changing the emotions of people.

Taking into account Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it could be said that those who donated will feel more morally¬†correct than others (Self-actualisation), they will have greater self-esteem and confidence as they think they have made a difference (have they really though?), and they may be more content with the love and safety of their family. (Love/belonging, Safety).

In summary, the advert is effective as it makes viewers empathise and encourages them to donate so they can feel they have made a difference.

Reuben O’Connell