Sci-Fi movies in particular have a way of truly captivating an audience. The typically employ lots of action but also an intriguing storyline. This blog will be analyzing the rhetorical devices used in the movie trailer for After Earth.
Before images of the movie are even put on the screen, the very first thing you experience is the sound of human breathing. I believe that this already has audiences connected. The sound of breathing is something we all can identify with. At this moment in time, we already want to know more, specifically, who is breathing? This is an effective use of pathos within the first few seconds of the trailer. Breathing is the only thing that can be heard, and that type of silence draws you in to what you are about to be shown.
Now we get the image and it’s of an older man and a young boy. They both have on breathing masks and the man is calming down the child by getting him to breathe. Logos and pathos are used here. Logically the way the characters are placed and the emotion in the eyes of the characters hints that this is a father-son relationship. The fact that the actor’s faces are recognizable also helps formulate this conclusion. If we didn’t notice immediately, then a few seconds later we see that the actors are Will Smith and his Son Jaden Smith. After the scene where the spacecraft crashes, we can see that this will not be a movie suitable for kids. It has a very serious tone in its music and voice narration provided by Mr. Smith. This movie is much more suited for young adults and up. The creators of this film did a good job making the film not gender specific. The two characters and their unknown surroundings on screen make an intriguing storyline, which will most likely not draw in one gender more than the other to the theaters.
Many audiences know that Will Smith and his son Jaden played father and son in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. As a duo they already have a track record, and if viewers liked their chemistry, they would be inclined to see this film. As the trailer continues audiences are introduced to a beautiful and lush environment. Everything’s and Argument by Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz says, “Your choice of color—especially for backgrounds—can make a statement about your taste, personality, and common sense” (pg.338). Color plays a significant role in this trailer as it tries to envelop audiences with its lush greens, blues, and rich browns. These colors leave specific impressions on the audience when put on screen. This is pathos at work.
Ethos is included the least out of the rhetorical devices used in this film but it is present and significant. The trailer doesn’t show any on screen dialogue save 3 minor exceptions, but relies heavily on the narration of Will Smith. His narration is mainly advice and guidance to his son. This appeals to our ethics because we can identify with the parenting aspect of this film. Jaden’s Smith character is a maturing boy who needs guidance. Children and parents alike can identify with the role of a parent and can easily side with what Will Smith tells his son, considering their circumstance. “But if we are going to survive this, we must realize that fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice (After Earth,film)”. These words are extremely powerful. They are examples of logos and ethos. Audiences can connect with the lesson Will Smith’s character is trying to teach his son. They can see the morals being taught to Jaden Smith and this further attaches them to the story despite its rather vague nature.
This trailer effectively argues that the unknown is fierce and dangerous, and can only be taken on by the strong-willed and the fearless. After Earth looks like it will be a beautiful movie with an intriguing story. Although it captures a large audience, it is definitely not suitable fro children. Due to this, After Earth gets 2 out of 3 tickets.