If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good old moan about how often a trailer will spoil a movie. If you’ve read any of my previous instalments then you’ll see the various elements that constitute and make up these revelation-ridden segments.
Plot and story twist reveals are by far the most infuriating. Why would anyone (given the power of hindsight) think it a good idea to pay for a cinema ticket but have key moments ruined for you? Regardless of genre, the idea of going to the cinema is for a new experience, without any prior knowledge of exactly what will happen in its narrative.
Whoever Green-lights the content of these types of trailers should be smacked across the face with a wet fish, or subject to a similar punishment.
Free Willy was a film I adored as a child. It was exciting and, as a young lad of nine, found the inclusion of a real-life whale in the cast pretty special. Thankfully, at the time I hadn’t seen the trailer, so wasn’t disappointed when I saw it. However, the same unfortunately cannot be said for everyone.
Free Willy is about Jesse (Jason James Richter), a young boy who befriends a killer whale in captivity. When he learns that the aquarium intend to kill the whale, known as Willy, he hatches a plan to liberate the mammal by breaking into out of his tank and releasing him into the wild for life-long freedom.
*If you’ve not seen the film then the analysis that follows contains spoilers*
What the trailer reveals
The problem here is that, yes we know the synopsis implies how the narrative will play out and eventually end (more so because it is a Warner Bros children’s film), but what is unclear is exactly how it will, especially in a visual sense.
The most fantastical element for its audience are the scenes with the whale itself. That said, straight away we’re granted too much access to the friendship Jesse and Willy develop, which is the most magical part of the movie. We’re privy to far too many scenes of Willy, as well as the path the narratives leads us down.
Whereas a lot of trailers tend to show an end shot or expose a massive reveal intricate to the overall plot, the Free Willy trailer gives us the full amount of exposition, character arcs and narrative detail before plotting out the entire ending for us. Yes, it is a feel good film and yes, the demographic it’s aimed at will want Jesse to succeed and Willy to escape, but do we really need to be walked through it?
What’s more, the trailer itself is just under two minutes, yet dedicates around forty seconds to plotting out the ending, which includes the somewhat iconic shot of Willy jumping to freedom over the head of Jesse.
Sure, some viewers may want the reassurance of a happy ending, but do we actually need to see it? It ashamedly answers the pinnacle question of is Willy freed? rather than saving the money shot for the big screen.
There’s really no point seeing it, unless you wish to experience the journey to the moment Willy is released, but in honesty, what’s the point?
Spoiler rating: 10/10