Doritos – The VCK Reviews – ‘Snack Attack Samurai’- by CBer

5 of 6

This review of Snack Attack Samuraiby Cber is the 5th of six issued by the VCK for the six finalists in the 2009-2010 Crash The Superbowl Doritos commercial contest. You may page backwards or forwards through any of the six sequential
blog posts to read any/all of the reviews.

If the reader cares to see these videos for him/herself, the easiest way is to go to the CTSB YouTube channel.

The Video The Rating
1. “Kids These Days…………………………………………8.2
2. “Underdog……………………………………………………8.0
3. “The Smackout……………………………………………..7.5
4. “Casket………………………………………………………….7.7
5. “Snack Attack Samurai ……………………………….7.0
6. “House Rules ………………………………………………4.9

Snack Attack Samurai by Cber

The Review

PRO:
CASTING/ACTING: The casting was serviceable. The resulting acting was also serviceable. I have seen worse efforts in this campy slapstick genre on national television. The most capable actor being the dude who takes the chips from Tim’s locker. Yeah, bandana man gave a great performance. Conversely Goggle dude had that classic ‘I can tell the camera is on me’ look.

SOUND DESIGN/LIGHTING/EDITING: SD- Probably the least complicated of all of the submissions. No errors in levels or dynamics. The SD promised a grilled cheese sandwich and it delivered. Admittedly, even a commercial as simply premised as this can easily be screwed up by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, so I still give kudos to the post designers and live action capture crew, though for ‘PROS’, it’s kind of hard to screw up a grilled cheese sandwich. Lighting was nice and even. No hot spots or dark issues. Nice kelvin balancing of the inside/outside. The editing was decent but I will touch on an issue or two in the CON.

WARDROBE/PROPS: What won this spot a place in the finals was the very elaborate use of the product as wardrobe to express over the top love for the brand. The Samurai costume was incredible. I am not sure why it didn’t get more screen time but I will touch on that in the CON. Bottom line, I know first hand how tough it is to create and maintain fragile, elaborate props, and the work that goes into preserving their structure and continuity on a shoot day. Kudos are appropriate here. Great labor intensive work.

DIRECTING/DP: No problems with the directing. The blocking was simple and made sense. The shot selection carried the viewer along the story line to it’s conclusion. Straight forward, no errors. Rather simple set-ups executed well.

STORY/LOCATION: The story works. It is by no means epic, but it works. It is a campy dudes-tailgate type story. It affords every bro watching the game the opportunity to high-five his buddy during commercial breaks, and chug back another swig of his brew until the next commercial comes on or he is returned to football action. Not ground breaking, but not inappropriate. Very safe.

CON:

WARDROBE/EDITING: I don’t know why the retro (80’s) style workout wardrobe. The Dorito bag didn’t hail from that era, so why the clothes? Did the writer think it would be a funny ‘throw in’ element? Personally, I kept expecting for it to mean something….that it would somehow relate to the story, and it never did. For me it was a distraction from the story-telling.

Editing: The main sight gag should have been introduced with audio first. It should have been the scream from the Samurai that got the attention of bandana man after Goggle dude hit’s the dirt. I don’t like the editing style where the camera cuts to the gag and only ‘then’ does the action start for that gag/clip. The introduction of the Samurai should have started 15-30 frames prior to his reveal. The proper sequence would have been: 1) hear the scream, 2) C.U. of Bandana Man – utter fear 3) cut to Samurai already in mid-scream. The way it was edited mitigated the full comedy potential. It makes me wonder if there were any external peers (objective minds ‘away’ from the project) to which dialys were sent for peer feedback. Hmm.

I didn’t like that we saw less than a full second of Samurai Man on screen. It probably was a prop/wardrobe reason (something that would have revealed some weakness – like that they weren’t really Doritos, and so yeah, the smart thing was to show them as little as possible), but still, I really wanted to see it about 10-20 frames longer. Honestly, if you are watching the game and you glance down to grab your beer or up at the clock, you could very well miss this main site gag, and the meaning of the spot.

WRITING/STORY: The story here is what perplexes me. The Herbert brothers tutorial videos pretty much outlined content surrounding zombies and ninjas would be a concept death-knell. We were advised to avoid them like the plague. Now I personally know the Herbert Brothers, and they are straight shooters. I am sure this pick is a little embarrassing for them since it flies in the face of the direction they gave in the creative brief. I would also guess that the Doritos judges didn’t check with Herbert Brothers before choosing a spot that conflicted with the advice given on their own sight. It was frustrating and disappointing for all of us contributors to the witness. If there ‘is’ a next year for the CTSB contest, the angry creative in me hopes the Doritos judges are forced to sit through 3,000 Ninja/Samurai vids as a result of this pick.

A major flaw of the Samurai clip being so short and ‘coming so late’ in the commercial (:26) is that it only gives the ad meter holder one major sight gag opportunity and not a lot of time to yank at those ad meters and have it sit there even if it does peg out at ten. Sorry but I do not count the Doritos (Chinese Star) in the neck a major site gag. It is a prelude. It will not in-and-of-itself get anyone to tweak any meters to any substantial degree. Call me jaded on the genre, or a closet Samuracist, but I don’t see this spot being judged equal to the Herbert Brothers spot and it will take such if Doritos wants to come out shining again.

Hey, if there were no better videos to choose from, I would’t begrudge Doritos for ‘settling’, but that just wasn’t the case here. IMNTBHO, there were at least 50 other videos that could have supplanted this one while increasing the qualitative strength of the finalist field. Of all the finalists, this story was the least original. Sorry Cber. Mind you, I didn’t say this video was the poorest production quality or worst acted. I won’t even say it is the least entertaining. I’m not done reviewing all the spots yet. I am asserting that the predictable unoriginal nature of the writing will not stimulate the more cerebral viewer who sees it. If this plays during the big game and gets a higher score than the 7.0 I issued it, I will issue a public apology blog post dedicated solely to how I was so very wrong in my review….let stand un-replaced on the VCK blog site for a full week, and then quickly move out of the USA to someplace where the majority of doofus’ (who voted this an entertainment milestone) will no longer be a threat to me and my family.

VCK Rating – 7.0


Please go to the next blog for review number 6 of 6:

House Rules‘ by DeJesus_77


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6 responses to “Doritos – The VCK Reviews – ‘Snack Attack Samurai’- by CBer

  1. complete agreement. please save me a place on that island. if the world come down to this entertainment we have officially entered Mike Judges world of “Idiocracy” If you haven’t seen this movie yet, it is a must rent.

    • Hey Mike, thanks for the affirmation. You know though that I would also be the king on that island right? Just so you know. There wouldn’t be a democracy for as long as I reigned but there would at least be sanity.

  2. I kind of like this one though I don’t think it’s nearly over the top enough for the superbowl. Plus it’s funny in kind of a derivative way. Know what I mean? A lot of comedy comes from “funny” things that have been establish as being funny in other commercials. Stuff like the funny looking bearded guy, weird 80’s workout clothes, the girlish scream at the end, and the “dart” in the neck gag. Again, I like it but it’s not really original in any way.

    • Dan,
      Standing alone it is a serviceable commercial. It could work as a national in the right time slots and I definitely have seen worse, but this is the CTSB contest we are talking about [SUPERBOWL]…..

      Additionally, when you consider the stronger spots that were left behind in the gallery…… sorry, I stand by my review.
      The VCK

  3. I’m not a film maker, I’m just a fan of this commercial, but if you’re going to get really technical into judging a commercial, wouldn’t you mention the special effects used to create the Doritos Chinese throwing star? I don’t know how hard it is to create, it’s not exactly Avatar in terms of special effects, but I didn’t notice any other commercial using any special effects at all. It’s a very small portion of the commercial, but if you are giving points for wardrobe, lighting…I would think with a likely very small budget special effects counts.

    You didn’t mention two of the gags I found funny. First, the one dude is so scared of Tim when he learn’s they’re his Doritos that he won’t finish chewing them. Second, the scream at the end is funny.

    • Timothy,
      I understand fanhood. Most fans overlook things because of their fan loyalty. You don’t have to be a film maker to appreciate what I am going to offer here.

      If a fortune 50 (fifty) brand like Doritos>FriotLays>Pepsi-Co wants to impress a SuperBowl audience with SFX/CG/Anim., they do it like this:

      Coca Cola “Heist” by Psyop from John Velazquez on Vimeo.

      The Doritos ‘chinese star not so special effect’ would only have been listed in my critique had they done it ‘wrong‘. There is zero degree of editing difficulty related to it. The other ‘gags’ you refer to were not ‘gags’. They were elements of a script….basic requirements necessary to even make it as a finalist. They were neither original or overly comedic. Tim, we are not judging these commercials on a ‘local TV’ level. We are judging them next to the spots similar to the coca-cola spot you just viewed that also aired during the Super Bowl. does this make sense?

      My review is a single opinion. You have yours, and there are others with differing ones yet. Nothing you offer will change the rating I have given the spot, but hey, it doesn’t have to either. And BTW, if you do your homework relative to past USA Today ad meter ratings, the score S.A.S. received from me is a decent one.

      The VCK

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