Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm easy

Just throw a little Nine Inch Nails in your trailer, and you've got me. Hook, line and sinker.

Take Terminator: Salvation, for example. They showed the trailer during last night's season finale of Lost -- an honor I thought was reserved exclusively for Star Trek during J.J. Abrams shows -- and I was reminded of the fact that Nine Inch Nails' "The Day The World Went Away" scores it.

I was going to see this movie anyway, but now -- whoa. Watch out.

I should say that Nine Inch Nails is my favorite band, so there is nothing purely objective about what I'm saying. But I also think there's a reason Trent Reznor's music is chosen for trailers. It increases the awesomeness factor by ten.

It did the same for me back when 300 came out. This trailer also gooses the excitement level with a little NIN, this time "Just Like You Imagined," also from the album The Fragile. I have no doubt the song itself contributed to my near-feverish level of desire to see that film, and therefore, also to my ultimate disappointment in its ability to live up to my expectations.

I've written at length about the power of trailer music, so I don't need to go into another dissertation here.

However, it would be useful to pause a minute to reflect on why NIN's stuff works so well in particular. It's those cinematic industrial soundscapes that Reznor is so good at concocting. In many a Nine Inch Nails song, you can hear the clanking, the mashing, the sound of one piece of metal scraping against another. These are highly effective sonic attributes when you've got something like a Terminator movie. If ever the world is going to be destroyed by machines, you want a Nine Inch Nails song to usher in the end -- even if "The Day the World Went Away" could be construed as a little on-the-nose in this case.

I will say that the use of a Nine Inch Nails song within the body of a film does not have a 100% success rate for me.

While scoring a cool-ass car chase through the desert with NIN's seminal "Closer" probably took the remake of The Hitcher up a couple levels for me, the same cannot be said of the use of "Every Day is Exactly the Same" in Wanted. In fact, you might say that's the moment when I realized Wanted was going to suck. "Every Day is Exactly the Same" is not a particularly deep song to begin with, but when it was used to demonstrate the daily drudgery of the existence of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), it was as obvious as being smacked in the face with a two-by-four.

Then again, that's not Trent Reznor's fault. It's Timur Bekmambetov's. His Wanted isn't much for subtlety in any respect.

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