Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sound the alarm

At a certain point, a phenomenon becomes so widespread that you just have to comment on it on your blog.

When I saw the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes yesterday, that moment arrived.

The phenomenon I'm speaking of is the use of the "biohazard alarm" in trailers for action/effects blockbusters. And there's a reason it's getting used all the time -- it's damn effective. If you weren't already psyched for the movie, the biohazard alarm triggers an immediate sense of the movie's prospective awesomeness.

If you don't know what I'm talking about when I refer to the "biohazard alarm," watch this trailer and you should immediately get it. You won't need me to tell you this, but the sound I'm talking about kicks in at 1:15.

Where else have I seen it? How about here:

Or here:

And here as well. (It's at 1:02, since this one is a bit longer.)

And I'm sure there were others. These were just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. I think I also heard it in ... yep, I think I heard it in the Something Borrowed trailer as well. The biohazard alarm is officially everywhere.

Ordinarily, my stance on any technique that gets used repeatedly in cinema would be to chastise it, to accuse those people who repeatedly use it of laziness. But not here. See, the biohazard alarm never wears out its welcome. It never ceases to be chilling. As far as noises are concerned, it's the be-all, end-all indication that shit is already beyond fucked up.

And because it's not exactly the same biohazard alarm every time, it's newly arresting every time. Sometimes it's more like the game show buzzer they used in Family Feud (Apes), but sometimes it's more of a whooping sound, like a fire alarm (Transformers). But in all instances, the biohazard alarm is recognizable as such because its eerie sounds come at the same interval, and are about the same length. And in all instances it's used for the same purpose: Get out now. "EMERGENCY. EMERGENCY. CONDITION NO LONGER NORMAL."

And in all instances elicits this response from the viewer: "Ho-lee shit."

Mission more than accomplished.

And I can say it was certainly accomplished in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When I first heard there was going to be another Planet of the Apes movie this summer, I thought "Really? They're resuscitating that franchise again?" But having seen the trailer, I've entirely changed my tune. Not only am I digging the CG apes, but they're totally badass and have major destruction on their minds. Since we know what happens later on in this chronology, we know that these apes will stop at nothing until they've vanquished the human race. Sign me up.

And yeah, I think it may have been just about 1:15 into that trailer when my mind shifted from "Maybe ..." to "YES!!"

Bring on the contamination. Bring on the hurt.

I'm ready. Sound the alarm.


Thaddeus said...

I think that's funny as hell! The biohazard alarm, I can dig - the Apes movies, not so much.

Tim Burton basically pulled a cannonball into an empty swimming pool on that one, and now I cannot be made to care. Pre-Star Wars 70s Scifi, even the apocalyptic stuff, deserves better. Still, if gets good reviews, I'll go in to watch it, and I will definitely expect them to use the biohazard alarm in the actual film, too =)

Vancetastic said...

Thanks Thaddeus!

I'm going to try to take this movie on its own terms. Sure, Tim Burton made a bummer Apes movie, but Rupert Wyatt (whose The Escapist I loved) is not under any obligation to cast Helena Bonham Carter, and the CG apes do look good. Also, one of my friends said it best: Because of where the story goes after this, you know there's not going to be some kind of Hollywood happy ending. This movie doesn't seem like it's going to pull any punches.

And though I've seen lots of things at the movies, I've never seen a bunch of really smart apes rip the shit out of modern society. Could be very fun.

Dylan said...

Nice observation! One could argue that the music in the Inception trailer was basically an altered version of the biohazard alarm as well, and that worked to marvelous effect.

All of a sudden, I want to see Battle: LA. Hmmm...