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The plot and the actors are all very nice, but a movie trailer's impact often relies on its soundtrack. Let's explore the latest trailer tunes and see how well they're working.
This Week's Trailer: A ComicCon preview of Mad Max: Fury Road, above, which doesn't even reach cineplexes until May 15, 2015.
This Week's Tune: What seems to be a snippet of the original score by Dutch producer and electronica legend Junkie XL.
How Literal Is It? This preview is long on mood and short on story. We know Tom Hardy is driving around a desert wasteland, we know shaved-headed Charlize Theron is hanging around in blueish light, and we know Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is wearing a pretty dress.
We know there are scary dudes in crazy masks blowing things up. We know that at some point, someone tied poor Tom Hardy down and gave him a tattoo he was NOT happy about. But mostly, we know this world is a post-apocalyptic hellscape.
However, we ALSO get the sense that the movie has some artsy flair. Take the moment where Huntington-Whiteley cocks her head at a possessed-girl angle, then frames some approaching dirt bikes (or whatever) inside her fingers. That's stylish! That's more than just random bloodshed and unwanted tats!
Junkie XL's score---at least I assume it's his score---works hard on both counts. You want nightmarish danger? Here are some ominous electronic sounds and thundering drums. You want a touch of artistic grandeur? Here are some ambient washes and distorted, chanting voices.
How Emotional Is It? The music has been timed really well with the images, and frankly, it stresses me out. In the back half, all those jump cuts to random acts of violence are matched with sudden sonic shifts, so that we jump from thundering percussion to jarring feedback without warning. Yes, that's a standard trope for thrillers and horror movies, but it still works here.
Will We Associate It With This Movie? It depends. If you're a fan of electronica and/or Junkie XL, then this music will probably stick with you. But if you can't tell a Skrillex from a deadmau5, then it will likely just add to your experience of the trailer without lingering afterward.
Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: As I said, the impact here is fairly standard, but the music does what it's supposed to do. It'll be interesting, though, to hear how the entire score pairs with the film. XL recently composed for Divergent and 300: Rise of an Empire, so he clearly knows how to give a blockbuster what it needs.