Ocean's 8

Well past the holiday season at this point, today’s trailers are beginning to target the summer action/ blockbuster season. Chief among these is the preview for Ocean’s 8, the somewhat-confusingly named spinoff following the Ocean’s Eleven (2001), itself a remake of the namesake 1960 film, which was followed by Ocean’s Twelve (2004), and, perhaps predictably, Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).

Following just over a decade when the series left off, then, and scheduled for release on June 8, 2018, the film is set to follow the misdeeds of Danny Ocean’s sister (Sandra Bullock), in “business” with an all-star cast of colleagues, including Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna.

The 1966 version of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra, the original version of this song that has been heavily covered, features prominently throughout this trailer, stopping at regular intervals to feature snippets of the film’s deadpan dialogue, much in the style of other trailers that generally fall into the comedy genre. The audio is noticeably spruced up (re-recorded), and it also incorporates added percussion and sound effects to match the dynamic range of a typical modern trailer. In other words, the song has been (subtly) trailerized. That being said, this mix falls closer to the end of being faithful to the original song.

The trailer begins with a shot of Sandra Bullock’s character in confessional mode and orange prison garb, with the soundtrack equally stark, a simple tambourine, kick drum, and hand claps – quickly becoming cliche – not yet giving away the choice of song for the trailer, but still sounding decidedly contemporary.

At the 0:35 mark, the Sinatra version of “Boots” enters as the original recording does with its slowly descending bass and jangly guitar alongside the studio logos, immediately giving the sense that what Ocean’s 8 is going for is not a reinvention per se, but rather, something unapologetically classic, picking up to some extent exactly where the series left off a decade prior. Nearly each line of Sinatra’s is contrasted with a snippet of dialogue, delivered in a generally upbeat, deadpan, swaggeringly defiant style, much in the vein of the song. Moreover, it is lifted by thundering percussion and additional rhythmic flushing that really modernize the style while not sounding out of place in the context of the original recording. It’s a fine balance, and the trailer music succeeds in it.

The song then speeds up with a clever title card listing off the stars in sync with the repeated descending bass at about the halfway mark. At first, it seems like a second song has entered, with funkier percussion and an equally funky guitar riff. But then, Sinatra’s voice re-enters for the chorus of “Boots.” This subtle, gradual contemporizing song works in tandem with the trailer’s goal of reminding and reintroducing the audioviewer into the franchise, which doesn’t have the immediate mindshare of something like, say, Star Wars, but certainly has a cachet to its name of its own.

By the two minute mark, we hear new vocals and it’s clear the trailer has musically reached another place. The final drum roll at the 2:10 mark, synced with a final action montage, is far more reminiscent of a live rock concert than anything from the Sinatra original. The title card uses the same (very effective) sync between the descending bass and the card’s presentation as a final, memorable shot to end the trailer.

With the Ocean’s 8 trailer’s rendition of “Boots” comes a reminder that the cover song is not always the answer, and what’s older in the pantheon of popular music can be new again – especially for a song that has been covered so extensively, simply presenting the original (mostly) unadorned can be refreshing in and of itself. It’s also a great example of progressively disclosing and blending the original song with its trailerized elements, threading the audioviewer along from the original to the recomposed version in an effective and engaging manner.


– Curtis Perry