We watch a lot of movie trailers here at ScreenCrave, and, as we inch closer to summer with its ever-increasing torrent of new films, we’re seeing more and more previews with each passing day. As we do so, we can’t help but notice some similarities, repetitions, and clichés among them. Here at Trailer Park, we’ll be offering a rundown of those clichés, where they come from, and which trailers share them. This week, we’ll be breaking down: The Sci-Fi Movie Trailer.
It’s hard to say which is more frighting – an alien invasion or the countless clichés that plague Sci-Fi movies and trailers. Whether the story’s about robots taking over the world or asteroids hitting New York City or, heaven forbid, extraterrestrial creatures ransacking our planet, some plot-elements are over-used that the mere mention of them in trailers is enough to make us go, “Next!” This week’s Trailer Park will cover 10 Clichés of The Sci-Fi Movie Trailer.
10. The Super Hunch
Used In: The Matrix, I, Robot, Tron: Legacy, Resident Evil
We’ve seen it a thousand times ranging from The Matrix to I, Robot to most superhero movie trailers. It’s when a hero and/or villain jumps from a high place and lands in a perfect three-point position. We’ll call this, the Super Hunch.
As Seen In: I, Robot
9. Watch Out For The Asteroid
Used In: Deep Impact, Armageddon, Meteorites, Doomsday Rock, Asteroid, Meteor
This is a cliché that plagues many disaster movies like Deep Impact and Armageddon: It’s the asteroid in the sky. Directors may ask themselves, “Well, how else am I suppose show an asteroid hitting the earth without showing the asteroid?” Reinvent it, duh!
As Seen In: Deep Impact
8. The Mothership Descends
Used in: Independence Day, Skyline, District 9,
Sci-Fi movies have made us believe that aliens love to put on show. Their giant space ship always arrives in a slow motion descend from the sky. Their arrival is never subtle, only extremely intimidating.
As Seen In: District 9
Used in: Super 8, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I Am Number Four, Melancholia, Skyline, I Am Legend, Tron: Legacy
Aliens always come with their own personal fog machine and back lighting. The back lighting is eerie and ghostly, added by some fog filter from a low angle. You put that together and you got yourself a pretty intimidating alien army.
As Seen In: I Am Number Four
6. Adiós Landmark
Used in: The Core, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Independence Day, V For Vendetta, Cloverfield
What would earth’s destruction be without a sequence of shots showing famous landmarks getting blown in a million little pieces?
As Seen In: 2012
5. Road Blocks
Used In: Independence Day, Knowing, Deep Impact, War of the Worlds, 2012, Battle: Los Angeles
Whenever the end of the world is near, there’s always a traffic jam to slow people down. These have become a staple of Sci-Fi/disaster films and trailers.
As Heard In: Knowing
4. Present Day
Used In: Skyline, Apollo 18, Super 8, Knowing, Space Cowboys, The Matrix, The Road
We have Steven Spielberg to blame for this one. Must the time and date always be spelled out for us every time? Next thing you know, the cue card will read, “Six Weeks From Tomorrow, At 4pm”.
As Seen In: Apollo 18
3. The News
Used In: Independence Day, Skyline, Another Earth, Battle: Los Angeles, The Road, District 9, 2012
News reports are a director’s subtle way of telling the audience what’s going on without actually telling them what’s going on. What’s strange to me is how people have time to sit down and watch TV even though the earth is being invaded by aliens or bombarded with asteroids.
As Seen In: Another Earth
2. Look At The Sky
Used In: Independence Day, Armageddon, Battle: Los Angeles, District 9, 2012, War Of the Worlds, Cloverfield
How scary is this movie? Just look at those people’s faces as they stare intensely up at the sky. Look at the shock! The horror! Now run.
As Seen In: Armageddon
1. Time To Run
Used In: Independence Day, War Of The Worlds, I Am Legend, 2012, Surrogates, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super 8, Battle: Los Angeles, The Adjustment Bureau, Repo Men
And finally, no Sci-Fi movie trailer is complete without shrieking crowds of pathetic humans running for their lives. In the end, they all die. Except for Tom Cruise, he always lives.
As Seen In: War Of The Worlds
What are some of the clichés you see? What do you think of this list? Does it cover everything?