Getting people interested in your latest movie project is probably one of the more difficult tasks there is in the movie business. However, when you have big name directors, actors, producers or already established properties your job gets easier. The ability of cutting a trailer for a movie is an art in and of itself. However, just because a trailer is great doesn’t mean the movie will be worth a damn. So below are some of my favorite trailers that unfortunately were better than the actual movie. The order goes from least surprising that the movie would be bad to the most surprising.
The Last Airbender
This should come as no surprise to anyone. M. Night Shyamalan takes a stab at a very popular cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and without fail screws up royally. However, a Shyamalan movie not being good is hardly newsworthy. What is worth mentioning is how well the trailer is cut. Everything we know and love from the cartoon is right there. You have the sky bison, the fire nation, and Aang. Inter-cut with battle scenes where fire, water, earth, and wind being used as weapons along with martial arts. What’s not to like?! Apparently, everything else. I would rather watch the trailer a 100 times than watch the full movie even once.
I wanted to love this movie with all my nerd being, but I simply couldn’t. Some complain about Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of Hal Jordan, but I have to disagree. I thought he was fine. However, I feel the script is where things fell apart. Little to no narrative, poor character development, and awful cartoonish CGI didn’t help things either. Overall, Green Lantern was a mess. A 200 million dollar mess. However, if you didn’t get excited when he starts the Green Lantern oath you might be dead inside. For the first time, we got a glimpse at a very alien setting for a superhero movie. Bizarre creatures that interacted with our hero on foreign planets. It had all the makings of opening up superhero movies to new and exciting heights. If Green Lantern got to travel to foreign planets than so could Superman or possibly some Marvel characters. Green Lantern meant a lot to the superhero movie sub-genre, so its critical and commercial failure was even worse than it seemed.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
What can I say about the Transformers series that hasn’t already been said. They are loud, crass, and make a shit ton of money. The robots all look like they are made from shards of glass (as Micah would say). The acting is piss poor, and no one really cares about the story, including Michael Bay. What we do care about is giant robot on robot action! What T:DOTM delivered was almost 3 hours worth of overkill. For 2 hours we get to follow around Sam Witwicky and his new girlfriend as they live their lives…blah blah blah. However, there is some new information that surfaces about Decepticons on the moon. The Decepticons wake up and attack the Earth, simple enough. I am not a fan of the series at all. I think its probably due to the fact that I like good movies…weird. Anyway, the trailer is pretty stellar. It almost got me to see it in theaters, almost. From the moon landing sequence to the fantastic CGI-ed robot carriers over Chicago the trailer really amps up the pressure and suspense. I think my favorite moment has to be Sam sliding inside the building as it collapsing. This is Michael Bay at his best. Over the top explosions, metal snake robots, that da-da-da-da noise…come on admit it you were sold!
I am sadden that this made the list. Tron is by far one of the most cherished nerd properties out there. The idea of making a sequel years later with all the major characters coming back was very exciting. With the test CGI footage being released a year prior to the trailer, the buzz was very high. Unfortuantely, when it came to actually making a quality movie, Disney failed miserably. Tron: Legacy has some good and bad, but sadly its mostly bad. The notion of what it was going to look like with modern CGI initially got most of the butts in the seats. However, the lack of story and quality acting proved to be the thing that would keep people away. All that being said, I would argue that this is the best trailer on the list. The CGI inside Tron was handled masterfully. The soundtrack, by Daft Punk, was about as perfect as you could have asked for. In some ways, it outshined the movie. My favorite moment is when Clu walks onto the platform and everything lights up and its timed perfectly with the crescendo of the Daft Punk song (The Game has Changed). Moments like that make you want to watch the trailer over and over. This is a textbook example of how to cut a trailer to get people interested.
This movie really ticks me off. How can you have all the right ingredients for a cult classic and fail so miserably? Zack Snyder put every element that would attract a movie goer like myself (read: nerd, geek, fanboy, etc.) to see this movie. It had it all: hot women, swords, dragons, samurais, machine guns, machine gun-wielding demons, robots, and much more. This should have been a slam dunk of epic proportion. However, what we got was a navel gazing piss poor attempt at Inception…with tons of rape…tons. The multiple layered story didn’t work at all and just became convoluted. This was Snyder’s first writing attempt and the story came from his crazy brain. I am a fan of Synder’s work, but there is no defending this one. Unlike Tron: Legacy, the soundtrack here was abysmal. Extremely loud and fairly nonsensical rock music just took me out of every scene. This is a failure on almost all counts. The trailer on the other hand was magnificent. I saw the first cut of the trailer at San Diego Comic Con and I was confused and pumped at the same time. Starting with a Led Zeppelin song (When the Levee Breaks) to set the tone for the real world was fantastic. The nice slow drag into the dream world was well paced. From here we get glimpses of action sequences with The Silversun Pickups’ Panic Switch playing in the background. From there we are in full cult-classic-in-the-making territory. We see our heroes fighting, landing on the ground in a very video game like way, and the final money shot of our protagonist dodging a missile attack from a gigantic samurai demon. Yeah I was all in. I didn’t have to do much to convince 7 of my male friends to see this opening night. When it was over, we all came to the same conclusion…utter failure. At least you can still watch the trailer whenever you want.
Topping the list of the great trailers, bad movies is one that I was sure would be a critical and commercial success. Director Bryan Singer had two successful comic book movies under his belt (X-Men & X2: X-Men United) but decided to leave the franchise to tackle the grandaddy of all superheroes. Having someone like Singer helming this was gold. While the X-Men movies had their issues they were overall pretty good. When it came time for the release of the movie I was psyched! We haven’t had a good Superman movies since the early 80s and it was high time we got back to our roots. Singer decided to just pay homage to the Richard Donner films instead of forging his own path. This was clearly a mistake. In a word the movie was bland. It had very little in the way of excitement or overall style. There were basically 2 action sequences that were shot well but everything around it was so blah. Brandon Routh (Clark Kent/Superman) did his best impression of Christopher Reeves and it worked out okay. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was a joke. There was nothing about her that stood out like Margot Kidder’s original portrayal. All in all, the movie was labeled a bomb and it had every right to be. It was a boring and fairly milquetoast experiment that went absolutely nowhere. Even though the movie was bland as all hell the trailer had a spark of pure movie magic in it. 50 seconds into the trailer you can’t help but smile. When you hear that familiar theme music, arguably one of the most known theme songs of all time, it transports you back to being a kid again. Even to this day I get goosebumps when I watch it. While I think Singer should have gone his own way you can’t deny that there is something about that theme music and those familiar visuals that is so damn appealing. Seeing that airplane scene for the first time was pure magic and for that reason among many Superman Returns should earn the top spot.
I am sure they’re are many others, let us know in the comments!