Sunday, January 8, 2017

Rogue One: TrailerGate

A couple weeks ago in my review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I briefly touched on the fact that the film's various trailers are all highly misleading, as they feature many, many scenes that don't appear in the actual movie.

What better time to reopen the topic like an old wound and examine it in minute and exhausting detail– the only way I know how!

I realize I'm in the vast minority here, but I was never all that excited about Rogue One since it was first announced. It seemed completely unnecessary to me, as it told a story we've already known for forty years. 

When I saw the trailers though, I have to admit I was intrigued, as they looked pretty darned good. There were several scenes in the trailer that I particularly liked– such as K-2SO telling Jyn he wouldn't kill her because she was a friend, and Jyn singlehandedly taking on a TIE Fighter.

I went to see the movie a few days before Xmas, eagerly looking forward to finally seeing those scenes, and others like them, in context. I waited, and waited for the scenes to appear, and then waited some more. Finally the house lights came up, the cleaning crew filed in and I'll be goddamned if NONE of those scenes I was looking forward to were in the fraking film.

What the hell, Disney?

"Deceptive" movie trailers like this are nothing new, and have been around for years. It usually happens because movies get trimmed and tightened in editing, and sometimes scenes get dropped from the actual film. It's just a part of filmmaking, and I'm OK with it if it happens sparingly.

Other times it happens when the director deliberately shoots a couple of scenes designed specifically for the trailer, to help quickly explain the plot. I'm much less OK with this, as in my mind it comes dangerously close to false advertising.

Rogue One falls squarely into both these categories. It reportedly underwent massive reshoots, as Disney decided they weren't happy with director Gareth Edwards' first cut of the film. In fact they were so dissatisfied they brought in writer/director Tony Gilroy (writer of the first four Bourne movies, and director of The Bourne Legacy) to rework the ending. He ended up spending five weeks rewriting and reshooting the entire third act. Along the way, the motivations of many characters were radically changed, and entire subplots were altered or dropped altogether.

Edwards also recently admitted that many of the scenes in the trailer were never meant to be in the film in the first place. He said that at the end of each shooting day, they'd have an "Indie Hour," where he and the crew would just play around and shoot random footage. According to Edwards, "It would just be things I thought were a beautiful moment or 'This is a great idea,' and a lot of the stuff in the trailer ended up through that process."

In other words, Disney deliberately padded the Rogue One trailer with random B-roll footage that was shot on a lark. I don't know about anyone else, but that infuriates me.

At what point does a trailer stop being a trailer, and become an advertisement for a movie that doesn't exist?

I have to say, I was a little pissed when I saw the actual movie and realized how many trailer scenes were missing. Apparently I'm the only one though, as I've heard nary a peep from the rest of fandom. Where's all the nerdrage over these deceptive trailers? Why aren't fanboys throwing a hissy fit about them? That's what fans do, right? They take to the internet to vent their spleens over things that don't matter! 

Remember all the indignation and outrage when Warner Bros. announced Ben Affleck was going to be the new Batman? So why are fanboys so uncharacteristically silent now? Is it because this Star Wars, and it automatically gets a free pass to do whatever the hell it wants?

I really don't get it. If you bought a new 4K TV that listed thirty four features on the box, and then you got it home and found out it really only had half that many, you'd be incensed. You'd take the TV back to the store, hurl it at the clerk and demand a refund. 

So why is everyone passively letting it slide when a movie trailer is just as deceptive?

I freely admit that in the grand scheme of things, fraudulent movie trailers are a first world problem. But it feels like we're on a slippery slope here. The problem's only going to get worse. If we don't speak up now, the day will come when we'll get trailers that are designed solely to lure us into the theater, and don't contain a single frame that's in the actual movie.

OK, enough ranting for now. Let's look at the Rogue One trailers, shall we?

There were three main trailers released before the film's premiere. Trailer One is by far the most misleading, with the other two coming in a distant second and third. 

Not only does Trailer One feature tons of scenes not in the film, but it also has a completely different tone, with character traits not found in the finished product. 


Oh yeah– SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE!

Trailer One:


The Scene:
The trailer opens with Jyn's "walk of shame" as she's led through the Secret Rebel Base on Yavin IV. 

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Eh, maybe a little. Her cocky little saunter here gives us a brief glimpse of the original, more colorful version of Jyn, before Disney started mucking with the movie.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
We then see Jyn being confronted by General Draven and Mon Mothma. The General reads off a laundry list of Jyn's many crimes against the Empire, and Mon Mothma chimes in at the end as well.

General Draven: "State your name for the record."
Jyn: "Jyn Erso."
General: "Forgery of Imperial documents. Possession of stolen property. Aggravated assault. Resisting arrest."
Mon Mothma: "On your own from the age of fifteen. Reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined."

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
YES, definitely! This scene gave Jyn some much-needed backstory and a some more insight into her character. In the final version of the movie we know absolutely nothing about her, save that she was raised by Saw Garerra.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
We see a shot of Jyn as she cheekily replies to Mon Mothma and Draven, saying, "This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel."

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Absolutely! This may be the most egregious example of a missing scene in the entire movie. This simple line is our best evidence that in the original version of the film, Jyn was much more cocky, had no love for authority and even seemed a bit dangerous. She had an actual personality.

Compare this with the version of Jyn we ultimately got, who's a bland, stoic, lifeless and emotionless cipher. Seriously, what the hell is up with Felicity Jones in this movie? Is she just a terrible actress, or did Edwards specifically tell her to act like a somnambulant drone? I've seen store mannequins that were more emotive. 

Heck, CGI Grandma Tarkin had more life in him than Jyn does. Are we sure she wasn't a CGI character as well?

I have no idea why these scenes were cut and her character was reworked, but it was a huge misstep, IMO.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
After Jyn's "rebellion" line, Mon Mothma does her best, "I'm not angry, I'm just... very disappointed" look.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Eh, not really. It gives us a slight look at the relationship between Mothma and Jyn, but it doesn't really affect the plot.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
Mon Mothma then tells Jyn that a major Imperial weapons test is imminent, and they need to know what it is. General Draven says, "Is that clear?" 

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No. It just gives Draven a few more seconds of screen time, and illustrates his contempt for Jyn.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
Jyn replies to Draven with a sarcastic, "Yes, SUH!"

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Definitely! Again, this missing scene hints at a Jyn with an actual personality, who was a much more interesting character than the one we were ultimately stuck with.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
We then get this cool shot of a brooding Director Krennic, presumably onboard the Death Star.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No. Originally I thought it might have been proof of an interesting subplot that was dropped, but director Gareth Edwards recently admitted this was one of the random scenes he filmed that ended up in the trailer. Actor Ben Mendelsohn, who played Krennic, finished his scene, and Edwards continued filming him for a minute or so because, "He had a very good vibe about him."

Jesus wept.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
Next we see this shot of a BALD Saw Gererra, as he wheezes, "What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?"

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY!!!

It's pretty obvious he's talking to Jyn here, and from his dialogue it sounds like he's worried she might turn into a heartless fighter who's worse than the Empire or something. Or maybe even turn to the dark side, who knows? 

Whatever he's talking about, it's been completely excised from the final film, and verifies the fact that Jyn originally had a much more interesting story arc, and Saw played a much larger roll.

And what's up with Saw's appearance here? Apparently he had a shaved head in the original version of the movie, but sported hair in the reshoots. I don't think this is supposed to be a flashback, because he's sporting all the Immortan Joe gear he wore later in the film. 

Did Forest Whitaker grow his hair out after he filmed his scenes, and then refused to shave it again when he was called back for additional shooting? That's what it looks like to me.

NOT IN THE MOVIE!

The Scene:
We then see a shot of the weird-ass Death Troopers burning Jyn's childhood home on Lah'mu.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Eh, probably not, but it hints there may have been a longer opening scene on Lah'Mu.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.


The Scene:
We see a brief shot of Stormtroopers parading captured X-Wing pilots through Jedha City.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Possibly. It's proof of an extended Jedha sequence, and possibly a storyline for Bodhi Rook, the TIE Fighter pilot who defects to the Rebellion.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.


The Scene:
There's a cool shot of Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO running through the London Underground, er, I mean a hall in an Imperial Base.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
MOST DEFINITELY!

This scene was obviously part of the original third act that was entirely replaced. If you look closely you can see Jyn's carrying the Death Star plans in her hand at this point. And K-2SO is alive and well and trotting along behind her. This all indicates that Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO originally all made it out of the file archive building and down to the surface of Scarif, which is completely different from the final version of the film.

NOT IN THE MOVIE!!!


The Scene:
That's Jyn and Cassian in the foreground, dodging blasts from several AT-ACTs. You can't really see it in this shot, but Jyn's still toting the Death Star plans here.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Again, this scene was a casualty of the reworked third act. From what it looks like here, Jyn and Cassian survived long enough to dash across the beach, presumably back to their waiting ship. Did they originally blast off and rendezvous with the Rebel Fleet above the planet? Did Jyn originally hand the plans off to Princess Leia? We'll probably never know.

I don't see K-2SO in this scene. Does that mean he was "killed" in the original version as well?

NOT IN THE MOVIE.


The Scene:
We then see this iconic shot of Krennic marching purposefully through the carnage on the beach, his cape trailing in the surf.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Possibly! Again, it hints at elements that happened in the original third act. I'm betting Krennic confronted Jyn on the ground before being killed by Cassian.

NOT IN THE MOVIE!


The Scene:
Finally we see this awesome image of Jyn dressed in Imperial garb, standing in a lit corridor much like the one from The Empire Strikes Back.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
At first I was going to say "Most definitely," as I assumed it was part of an awesome confrontation between Jyn and Krennic that was expunged during the many reshoots.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case. According to Edwards it was another of his completely random, non-sequitur shots. Said Edwards,
 "We finished a shot and Felicity Jones was just walking to the next shot, which was at the end of the tunnel. And as she walked, someone switched the lights on and the way they turned on they went 'clickclickclick' like this. Someone called her, and she just turned around a little bit and I was like, 'Oh my god that looked great.' And I was like 'Stop stop stop!' and everyone stopped. 'This will take 10 seconds, just roll camera”....Then obviously 10 seconds turned into a half hour, and we probably did 17 takes. So that ended and there’s that feeling of, 'Well what was that for?' And I was like, 'I don’t know, that just felt good.”
Jesus, is that really the way Edwards speaks? He makes Ed Wood sound eloquent. So basically he accidentally captured a random image on film and decided to stick it in the trailer, even though it doesn't represent anything that happens in the movie. Got it.

NOT IN THE MOVIE!!!

So that's it for Trailer One. By my very unscientific calculations, there are a total of thirty four scenes in the trailer. Of them, only seventeen are in the actual movie. Did you get that? HALF the scenes in Trailer One are NOT in the goddamned movie. HALF! 

Don't talk to me about reshoots and edits. That's a completely unacceptable percentage.


Trailer Two:

There aren't nearly as many missing scenes in this trailer, and the ones that were cut seem to be mostly cosmetic. Few of them change the entire tone of the film, like the missing scenes in Trailer One did.

Note that the entire plot of the film seems to have changed by the time Trailer Two came out. In Trailer One, the Rebels recruited Jyn because of her criminal past, and they simply wanted her to gather intel on the Empire's "major weapons test."

Suddenly in Trailer Two the Rebellion's motivation for recruiting her has changed. They know her father designed the Death Star, and hope she knows where to find him I guess so they can rescue him and put him to work for the Rebellion. Jyn also wants to find her father, something absent from Trailer One. I'm betting these elements were all added in the reshoots.

Also, note that Trailer Two employs a new tactic taking shots from the film and editing them together to form a brand new scene that's not actually in the movie.There's a scene early on where Young Krennic is on Lah'mu and looks to his left, and then we immediately cut to Young Jyn hiding in the bushes. It's implied here that he's looking at her, but that's not how the scene played out in the actual film.

They also do it when K-2SO says "They are requesting a call sign," and Bodhi says, "It's Rogue... Rogue One." That scene didn't play out that way in the final film.

I'm assuming they cobbled these new scenes from existing footage to quickly clarify plot details, but it still seems kind of sketchy, if not outright deceptive.

The Scene:
We see what appears to be a massive, fallen statue of a Jedi, presumably on Jedha.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No. We actually we do see this statue in the final film, but it's shot from a different angle. 

Special effects ain't cheap, guys. I wonder why they'd go to the trouble of rendering this scene and then not use it?

NOT IN THE MOVIE (SORT OF).

The Scene:
There's a scene featuring Darth Vader's reflection on the floor, as he stands in front of a readout. 

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Possibly! This hints that Vader had additional scenes in the film, that could have amounted to something. It's hard to say exactly where this scene takes place. Is it in his scary castle on Mustafar? Is that some sort of Death Star readout in front of him? Hard to say.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
Director Krennic confronts Darth Vader, saying, "The power that we are dealing with here is immeasurable."

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Eh, it probably doesn't change the plot, but it definitely hints at more interaction between Krennic and Vader. And possibly additional motivation and backstory on Krennic's part.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
A trio of TIE Fighters fly past the completed Death Star.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No. This was just an establishing shot, and doesn't affect the movie whatsoever.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
The Rebel leaders meet to discuss the threat of the Death Star. One of the leaders says, "If the Empire has this kind of power, what change do we have?"

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No. A version of this scene is still in the movie, sans the holographic image of the Death Star. Honestly I'm kind of glad they dropped this shot, because it's wayyyyyy too similar to the briefing scene in The Return Of The Jedi ("Many Bothans died to bring us this information.").

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

Trailer Three:
Like Trailer Two, this one doesn't have nearly as many missing scenes as the first one did. However, a couple of the missing scenes in Trailer Three are pretty darned significant, and once again hint at a far better movie than the one we got.

The Scene:
When K-2SO meets Jyn Erso for the first time, he says, "The Captain says you are a friend. I will not kill you." Jyn replies with a weak, "Thanks."

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Positively! K-2SO was one of the best characters in the film, and the more scenes with him, the better. 

As I said earlier, I liked this scene and was looking forward to seeing it in its proper context. I kept waiting for it, and eventually realized it was never going to happen, unless for some reason K-2SO decided to introduce himself to Jyn a second time, three fourths of the way into the movie, which wouldn't make any sense.

NOT IN THE MOVIE!!!!

The Scene:
Jyn hobbles along an elevated platform, armed only with a small blaster, and is confronted by a TIE fighter.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
YES, ABSOLUTELY! This may be the most iconic scene in any of the trailers, and it's appeared all over the internet and in virtually every review of the film. So it's especially infuriating when it doesn't appear in the actual movie.

Actually, this scene is in Rogue One, as Jyn does walk down the elevated catwalk at the end of the movie. But the TIE Fighter has been completely removed. According to Edwards, its initial presence was another scene cooked up specifically for the trailer. Edwards says, 
"There was a bit of a process to refining the third act in terms of the specific shots and moments, and so certain things just fell away. But then what happens is marketing love those shots, and go, “oh, we’ve got to use that.” And you say, “well, it’s not in the movie”. And they say, “it’s okay, it’s what marketing does, we just use the best of whatever you’ve done”. And so there’s lots of little things, but towards the end you go, “I know that’s not in the film, but the spirit of it’s in the film."
Ah, I see. The "spirit of the scene" is in the film. Well, how about if I pay for my ticket with the "spirit" of ten bucks, since I didn't get the movie I was promised?

NOT IN THE MOTHERFRAKIN' MOVIE!!!!

The Scene:
Lastly, there's a short reveal of Darth Vader, presumably staring at a Death Star display panel.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
No, but again, it hints that he may have originally had a larger part in the film. Or this could have been more of Edwards' screwing around with the camera, who the hell knows at this point? 

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

Sizzle Reel:
Disney debuted a "sizzle reel" at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, which featured a couple of scenes that weren't in any of the three trailers, nor the movie.

The Scene:
A different shot of Jyn and Cassian engaging in the ground war on Scarif. 

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
Yep, as this is a completely different ending than the one we got, and may even imply that at least Jyn survived in the original version.

It's pretty similar to the shot from Trailer One, but filmed from a different angle. Again, note that Jyn's physically carrying the Death Star plans here, and we still don't see K-2SO, indicating he probably died in the original version of the movie as well.

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

The Scene:
A gaggle of Stormtroopers go for a refreshing dip in the oceans of Scarif.

Does Its Absence Impact The Film?:
It's hard to say. This could have been part of a major subplot that was jettisoned, or another bit of fluff that Edwards filmed "just because."

NOT IN THE MOVIE.

So that's all the scenes from the Rogue One trailers that didn't make it into the actual movie. I guess in the long run it doesn't matter, as the film's closing in on a billion dollar worldwide gross. 

These deceptive trailers still piss me off though, as I feel I was promised a movie I didn't get. As I said before, at what point does a trailer stop being a trailer, and become an advertisement for a movie that doesn't exist?

2 comments:

  1. Agree on all points. Had the same discussion with my nerd pals. Thanks for being a watchdog on this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! As I said, it's fine if ONE scene gets cut from the film after a trailer lands. Happens all the time, and it's part of movie making. But it's not OK when HALF the scenes are missing from the movie!

    And it's definitely not OK when the director deliberately shoots scenes he knows aren't going to be in the movie, and sticks them in the trailer because he thinks they're "cool." NOT COOL!

    ReplyDelete

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