The 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Trailer Uses Familiar Music to Great Effect
There's always so much to unpack about a movie trailer: the stars, the plot, how much of the plot is being totally given away. But in many cases, the part of the trailer that sticks with you the longest is the music. Be it a pop song or a piece or orchestral score, it's the music that most often makes a trailer.
This Week's Trailer: The very first official trailer for next summer's blockbuster entry, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
This Week's Tune(s): "Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)," one of the major movements in John Murphy's score for the 2007 Danny Boyle sci-fi drama Sunshine. And "Journey to the Line," from Hans Zimmer's Oscar-nominated score to Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line.
Back when we discussed the TV spots for Gravity, we talked about the Sunshine score and how it's often employed by both trailers as well as films themselves to borrow a sense of otherworldly high stakes. No film franchise fits those parameters better than the X-Men, particularly in this story that spans timelines and versions of reality. It's a remarkable piece of music that has seemingly been lab-tested for maximum excitement levels, because it's used so often.
Someone at 20th Century Fox must have really needed to hit a home run with this trailer, then, because one piece of omnipresent and undeniably rousing trailer music is then followed up by another: "Journey to the Line," from Hans Zimmer's spectacular score for The Thin Red Line. It's a good time to be Hans Zimmer in Hollywood. He produced what is arguably (but barely) summer's most triumphant score in Man of Steel, then scored two of the fall's more high-profile releases (Rush and 12 Years a Slave), and even when he's not specifically scoring a film, his Inception-y fingerprints are all over it (hey there, Captain Phillips).
So naturally, trailer-makers would be in a Zimmer frame of mind these days. "Journey to the Line" is likely Zimmer's most famous piece of score music, having been utilized countless times beyond the original film's parameters. Steve McQueen used it to great effect in his film Shame, which puts his decision to have an action-oriented composer like Zimmer on a film like McQueen's 12 Years a Slave in a much more sensible perspective.
The question is, does the employment of two of the most recognizable pieces of movie music in the last 15 years make the X-Men trailer pop, or does it relegate it to the bin of overuse? "Fan-made" is always a pejorative when discussing trailers, and were it not for the heretofore unseen Days of Future Past footage on display, you'd probably be able to talk me into believing some skilled and enterprising young fanboy had designed this trailer. It is undeniably rousing and moving, but there's something to be said for a trailer that digs up a piece of music that hasn't been done to death and puts its stamp on it. I feel dirty even saying a bad word about either of these two pieces of music, but you can't exactly deny that they're well-worn territory.
Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: If you're going to be the 500th film to use the same piece of music, that music had better be the best in the business. In this case, it just might be.