Posted August 12, 2008 by Carl Unger
If you've watched at least an hour of the Olympics this year, you've no doubt seen one of United's fancy new animated commercials. They are meant to convey a sense of wonder and magic, as if either of those two words apply to the average traveler's flying experience these days (except to say, "I wonder how late my flight will be"). However, if you've managed to miss them, fear not, for I have included them below. And since these commercials are clearly aiming to create a cinematic experience, I'll be putting on my film critic's hat and offering a little commentary on each.
This United ad is aiming for a Surrealistic expression, representing the joy and comfort of flying in a swirling field of color and shape. Unfortunately, to me it looks like a chalk drawing done by a (admittedly very talented) kid on his parents' driveway. This ad doesn't quite do it for me, so I'm giving it 1.5 stars.
This ad has all the emotional depth of a Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy, but it does contain, at its core, some truths about relationships: Nothing is worse than leaving your loved one behind, and nothing is better than returning. Also, it's socially acceptable to attend business meetings with a heart-shaped hole in a … er … conspicuous area of your clothing. The animation is uninspired, but I'll give this ode to amore 2.5 stars.
This is where the creativity really starts to enter United's ads, and it comes with a thrilling storyline to boot: Ordinary man follows runaway plane ticket, which leads him to a secret world where—gasp!—he is abducted by freakish death fairies! Always resourceful, the man escapes down some floating stairs, leaps off a star, and floats back to safety with his umbrella as a parachute. But wait—his presence changes the colors of the real world! Is he a death fairy, too?! I smell a sequel. Oh yeah, the animation rocks. 3 stars.
This commercial picks up on the Finding Nemo oeuvre, but absent a clear plot, it can't come close to that film's heart and charm. That said, the animation is very, very cool, and the ad features a fat, laughing orca slapping its belly. Add that to my ever-growing list of images I could never have imagined seeing. 3.5 stars.
What do you think of United's new ads? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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