View Full Version : Argh! Don't put spoilers on the cussed wrapper!

Larry Mudd
07-29-2003, 06:36 PM
This goes beyond a minor aggravation for me, and I'm tempted to post in the Pit. What's holding me back is a fundamental laziness, rather than the rather incidental observation that my grievance is specifically related to Arts & Entertainment: If I allowed myself free rein with invective, I'd be banging away at the keyboard for an hour.

Every time I turn around in the last little while, I'm finding things spoiled for me by the people responsible for putting it in my hands.

I rented The Sum of All Fears on the weekend. Okay, it's not a brilliantly-crafted movie, and you might say it's difficult to spoil something like that, but I was in the mood for mind-floss. Anyway, Rogers Video has a practice of labelling their boxes with "suitability" information In addition to the usual remarks about coarse language, sexy bits, etc., they felt it necessary to inform anyone who might be considering viewing the film that:A TERRORIST NUCLEAR BOMB IS DETONATED IN A CROWDED STADIUM DURING A MAJOR SPORTING EVENTRage! I don't remember the promotion for the film, but I'm pretty sure they were careful with reveals like that in trailers and such. Is it too much to ask them to use a vague description that conveys enough information to allow parents or sensitive folk to make a judgement, like, say, "Scenes of a catastrophic event," without giving away a specific plot detail and completely destroying what was obviously intended to be a surprise for the viewer?

Even worse, why did the BBC feel it necessary to preface a reading of Helen Dunmore's nice little vignette Mason's Mini-break with the summary:A prize-winning novelist meets the ghost of Charlotte Bronte in a rainy West Yorkshire village.Argh! This is a 15-minute sketch which is entirely dependent on the device of deferred significance. The revelation of the identity of the woman that the protaganist meets, which comes at the very end of the story, completely alters the way that what preceeds it is to be interpreted. Putting it up front undoes the author's careful labour of misdirection and ambiguity. Simply putting the two names together, together with the lightly-disguised name of the protagonist's wife, makes what is supposed to be a subtle and clever gimmick appear glaringly obvious to bookish folks, who might reasonably be expected to make up a large part of the audience for a literary series. Never mind that the intro revealed the simple fact that it's a ghost story of sorts, which isn't at all obvious from the tone of the narrative, despite the proximity to the moors.

Why do people do this? Do they really have no clue that they may be putting some people off bothering with their offerings?

This has happened to me several times in the last couple of weeks. Am I the only one who's being driven 'round the bend by this?

Or is it a trend?

07-29-2003, 09:06 PM
It might be a trend. I've heard a lot about The Baby Of Macon and I sort of looked around for a copy. I saw a picture of the back of the box, which was magnified enough to be readable, and they gave away the entire plot, including the ending- which was brilliantly dubbed something like "which concludes shockingly with..."! Sheesh. I stopped looking for it at that point, which is just as well, since I can't find a R1 version of it, but still.

For anyone who thinks I might be exaggerating about the throughness of the spoiling and has seen the film, does this sound like the ending to you? Yes or no would surfice.
the sister eventually kills the baby (child) and sells off his blood etc. Then they punish her by allowing many men to rape her

07-29-2003, 09:07 PM
It's a trend. It started with movie trailers showing everything about a movie you needed to write a plot summary. In fact, it's a refreshing and unusual trailer that doesn't let all of the beans out of the can.

07-30-2003, 01:48 AM
Something like that happened with the trailer of What Lies Beneath. Did you feel surprised when you saw the movie? (if you saw the trailer before, of course).

07-30-2003, 03:09 AM
Grousser, I agree about What Lies Beneath. It was an awesome movie, IMHO, but they totally wasted the first forty minutes or so because we knew from the trailer that something else was going to happen.

Oh, and in the intro for The Usual Suspects DVD, they show several scenes that give away the movie!

The coffee cup with "Kobayashi" on it, Verbal walking and slowly turning from a stagger into a smooth walk, etc.

07-30-2003, 03:16 AM
Rage! I don't remember the promotion for the film, but I'm pretty sure they were careful with reveals like that in trailers and such.
I was never interested in the movie, but I remember the trailers showed a stadium exploding, explained that it was in Baltimore, and made it clear there were nuclear-armed terrorists to blame.
So really, they didn't preserve the surprise either. I do agree with you, though, that this trend is UNBELIEVABLY annoying. I don't read movie reviews anymore because they give the plots away, too, and after seeing a few ads, there's nothing left to give away. :p

07-30-2003, 03:26 AM
I don't read movie reviews anymore because they give the plots away,Well, you can read Roger Ebert safely, and the counted times he gives too much of a plot, generally that plot is not as important for not to suspect (who really cares about a spoiler for Charlie's Angels, btw?)

07-30-2003, 03:35 AM
Being spoiled requires a plot, so Charlie's Angels doesn't qualify. (Where I'm from, "ass" isn't a plot, even in conjunction with "tits." ;))

It's not just plot. For me, it's fun to not know that much about a movie in advance. Something has to interest me - the story, the cast, whatever - but I'd rather be surprised beyond that.

El Elvis Rojo
07-30-2003, 09:55 AM
In terms of The Sum of All Fears, the trailers didn't do anything to cover up the shocking events. It seemed like, despite that, the movie had more important focus, so I guess they just felt Eh, we'll show the bomb detonate, a hospital waiting room blow in, and Aflek's helicopter getting caught in the blast wave. There was no suprise left there.

The trailer for Shaolin Soccer shows pretty much EVERY cool part of the movie, including the game winning super goal kick. Luckily, I'd seen the movie already and know not to waste my money going to see it in theaters.

07-30-2003, 02:10 PM
It isn't just movies.

I bought a trade paperback while waiting for the drugstore to fill some prescriptions. An author I hadn't read before, Terry Goodkind, a book titled The Pillars of Creation.

A woman named Jennsen is in hiding when her mom is killed by assassins of the evil wicked Rahl family. Soon she is informed that the tyrant Darken Rahl is dead and his successor, her new adversary, the man who is currently hunting her down and who has succeeded in finding and killing her mom where Darken Rahl failed, is his son Richard Rahl.

At some point after reading perhaps 1/3 or 1/4 of the way into the book, and getting caught up in the story, I read the back cover which contains the usual back-cover summary blurb.

(back cover blurb paraphrased) -- The latest book in the series revolving around the good Lord Richard Rahl and his companion the Mother Confessor Kahlan...[/excerpt] -- oh, I see, the enemy she is running from and/or trying to kill to end his pursuit of her is going to turn out to be one of the good guys. I guess that makes it very very likely that the folks who have informed her that Richard Rahl is the current tyrant and who are helping her are going to turn out to be the bad guys, huh?


don't mind me
07-30-2003, 02:33 PM
It's not just plot. For me, it's fun to not know that much about a movie in advance. Something has to interest me - the story, the cast, whatever - but I'd rather be surprised beyond that.ITA, Marley23. It's not just the details, it's the storytelling process, and I want it from the pros. Is this some kind of post-modern, deconstructionist, post-narrative thing? It's like everyone wants to be too detached and sophisticated to really care about the gee-whiz fun of movie viewing.

07-30-2003, 02:50 PM
Thanks, don't mind me. Although I *did* have to search for about five minutes before I found out what "ITA" meant. ;)

I don't know if it's a sophistication thing or what. If I had to guess, I'd say movie trailers started giving away more because they didnt' want to take the chance the audience wouldn't be interested, so critics felt they could give away more, and then it starts repeating itself. But that's just a guess.

07-30-2003, 03:13 PM
Check out the box for Attack of the Clones. My wife hadn't seen it and knew nothing about it, so I was all excited about watching it with her, when she glanced at the box and observed a screenshot of Yoda posing with a you-know-what. Why, OH WHY, would they take the one and only surprise in the freakin' movie and put it on the BOX??

07-30-2003, 09:40 PM
Dooku, the entire rental campaign was based around Yoda's lightsaber fight. It was execrable.

07-30-2003, 09:45 PM
George sure does know his fan base, eh? :rolleyes:

07-30-2003, 09:55 PM
Yeah. Maybe that's his talent: he does nothing but infuriate them, and they still show up. Makes me wonder if there's a Star Wars fan pathology.

07-30-2003, 11:00 PM
As far as Sum of All Fears goes, I wish they had also included a warning about the

...gratuitous product placement of brightly colored Marlboro and Camel cigarette packs in a snack vending machine. It totally ruined the already slim credibility of the movie.

and the

...horribly fake professional football game complete with cheesy fake uniforms and nameless stadium! The uniforms screamed "This film made WITHOUT the endorsement of the NFL"

God what a horrible movie!!!

07-30-2003, 11:15 PM
Sometimes avoiding the reviews isn't even enough. Whoever designed the video jackets for Planet of the Apes (the Heston version) decided to put the one image on the cover that would completely give away the ending. Wonderful.

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