'Dead Island' trailer a sensation, but is a movie next?
Yesterday, waaaaaaaaay down at the very bottom of The Morning Read, I ran a video that is a trailer for a new video game called "Dead Island." I thought it was a nifty little mood piece, and that's about all the thought I gave it.
It is genuinely amazing to me, then, to see just how much impact one dialogue-free video game ad can have. If you look at Twitter, "Dead Island" has been trending for the last 24 hours. If you go to Google and search, there are hundreds of news articles in the last 24 hours. Axis Animation, the Scottish production house that made the trailer, has become a big story today. I'm even hearing that the film rights to "Dead Island" have become a hot property based entirely on that one short spot.
Here's how you know it's huge: Devin Faraci has written a strongly-worded editorial dismissing it.
All of this for something that is essentially a zombie version of a Coldplay video. Why? What is it about internet culture that allows something that brief and, honestly speaking, inconsequential, to suddenly become an overnight phenomenon? I think the next big talent pool for feature film directors is not going to be from music videos or short films, but from video game cut scenes and from these moody sort of announcement videos that have become increasingly common in the gaming industry.
Remember the "Gears Of War" spot that used "Mad World"? The one directed by Joseph Kosinski, who went on to make "TRON: Legacy"? That seems to have set a template that we're seeing followed now in film trailers as well as game trailers, this sort of no-dialogue, music-that-works-in-contrast-to-what-we-see, hyper-moody thing where you're not even being sold story or characters. It's just a feeling, and in the case of "Dead Island," I'm curious how much the trailer even reflects the game. I don't think we're seeing anything from the actual game play, or even characters from the game itself.
Is it just because of the nature of the internet, where a 45 second video is easier to watch than something long-form? Is that why things like this go so viral so fast, and why they have become our daily cultural currency? For those of you who still haven't seen it, here it is again:
All I would ask of Hollywood executives who are busy looking up the phone number for Axis Animation is that you remember… making me feel something in a 45-second spot and making me feel something for a full two hours are very different skill sets, and one depends solely on manipulation and shortcuts and a heavy heavy hand, while the other requires, in the best-case scenario, a full range of abilities.
"Dead Island" might turn out to be a very good game. It might be terrible. But this ad really has nothing to do with that. It is a stand-alone product, and judged just on the reaction to that, it kickstarted the conversation and did what it had to do for Techland, the Polish company developing the game. It's just lunacy to assume it means anything beyond that. We have reached the age where the ad is a stand-alone product, and it's strange to see how rabid people get about what is, at its heart, pure marketing.
And before you decide that you need to option the film rights to the game, how about actually playing it? Don't assume that this trailer is what you'd be buying. It just seems like Hollywood overreacting based on a moment's heat, and in the end, it sounds like the game is really just another riff on the survival horror genre we've seen a lot of in the last few years. That trailer isn't enough to form the spine of a whole movie, and I have a feeling if someone does pony up before the game's even out, this will end up as a big fat case of buyer's remorse.
"Dead Island" will arrive on PS3, XBOX 360, PC and other formats later this year.
1991 | Action | PG-13Summary: Inspired by the Indiana Jones films, this over the top adventure has Jackie Chan performing some of his biggest and most impressive stunts in a hunt for a fortune in gold stolen by Nazis and buried in the Sahara.Director: Jackie Chan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Carol 'Do Do' Cheng, Eva Cobo
1999 | Documentary | RSummary: AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man's quest for the American D...Director: Chris Smith
Cast: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels
2002 | Crime | RSummary: A passion for photography keeps young Rio de Janeiro resident Rocket out of gang activity, and through him we see a cavalcade of incredible stories about life in a Rio slum.Director: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Leandro Firmino
1988 | Mystery | NRSummary: Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas.Director: Errol Morris
Cast: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson
1975 | Science Fiction | GSummary: The original Disney sci-fi superhero movie for kids, in which two orphans figure out how to live with their superhuman powers as they are haunted by memories of their lost home. If only they could figure out where that home was...Director: John Hough
Cast: Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence
2012 | Documentary | NRSummary: Dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem celebrates the end of their run as a touring band with a spectacular concert at Madison Square Garden.Director: Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern
Cast: Chuck Klosterman, James Murphy, Keith Wood
1928 | Drama | NRSummary: The effete son of a cantankerous riverboat captain comes to join his father's crew.Director: Buster Keaton, Charles Reisner
Cast: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis
2000 | Adventure | PG-13Summary: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically-skilled, teenage nobleman's daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Sihung Lung
1984 | Action | PGSummary: A bullied kid, new in town, is trained in karate by an old handyman, who hides his storied past. Climaxes in one of the most rousing final sequences of the '80s.Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
Let Streaming Genie help you.