It's happened to all of us, we see a trailer for a movie that looks so amazing, and think that there's no way the movie won't be great. I could name dozens of examples of good trailers for films that turned out to be lousy: Star Wars Episode 1, Cloverfield, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Matrix Reloaded, any M. Night Shyamalan movie after Signs. There's no great art in taking two or three minutes worth of great footage and making it look enticing to the viewers, but there's another phenomenon that exists in the world of movie trailers.
I've selected five trailers for movies that I actually liked, but after seeing the film, I was disappointed that it was nowhere near as good as the trailer for the film. These are the kinds of trailers that, when you re-watch them, make you want to immediately see the movie again. Now, there's lots of great movies with equally great trailers, but it's a rare phenomenon to have a great trailer, and then the movie turn out to be good, just not as good as the trailer, and today, I'm looking at my Top 5 examples...
5. Flight (2012)
I rather enjoyed Flight, even though a number of people I've spoken with said it felt like an R-rated afterschool special. But one thing I just couldn't get over about Flight, and I even mentioned it in my review is that it had an absolutely amazing trailer. The trailer is gripping, intense, suspenseful, and gives you just enough information without giving away everything, which is the cardinal sin that far too many trailers commit. Flight the film got 3.5 out of 5, but I'd give this trailer a 5 out of 5.
4. Watchmen (2009)
It's ironic that this trailer uses a Smashing Pumpkins song from the terrible film Batman & Robin, and this trailer debuted before The Dark Knight in the summer of 2008. It was almost ominous, but in spite of the overwhelming odds against it, Zack Snyder's Watchmen film managed to be pretty damn good, although I won't go so far as to say it's great or even one of the ten best comic book movies ever made. The trailer gives you iconic imagery that fans of the book recognized immediately, and even though the costumes seemed a little off, you still get pumped up about the very notion of a Watchmen movie. Again, Watchmen is not a great movie, but every time I see this trailer, it makes me want to watch it immediately.
3. Garden State (2004)
I spent the spring and summer of 2004 obsessively watching this trailer, fevered with anticipation for a film that looked as though it could legitimately be The Graduate of my generation. No film could live up to such high expectations, and I definitely enjoyed Garden State in spite of its numerous plot contrivances and quirk for the sake of quirk. But watching this trailer again and hearing Frou Frou's "Let Go," it's like I'm transported back to a time when I thought this movie was going to change my life.
2. Independence Day (1996)
The summer before my senior year in high school, this trailer was showing before every movie, and all the anticipation was focused firmly on the week of July 4th when we'd finally get to see The Fresh Prince, Lone Starr & Ian Malcolm kick some alien ass. And don't get me wrong, the first time I saw Independence Day, I thought it was great. I found myself getting caught up in the jingoism & the spectacle of it all, but let's face it, the film is nowhere near as good as this trailer. It's a classically edited 90's action movie trailer, featuring Don LaFontaine's dulcet tones & the promise of the action movie to end all action movies. In retrospect, it just turned out to be the best Roland Emmerich movie ever made.
1. Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
I adore Where The Wild Things Are. I don't think any film has ever captured the inner turmoil of being a ten year-old boy better. The only problem is, the film's trailer was an absolute masterpiece. Featuring the song "Wake Up" by the not-yet overrated Arcade Fire, the film promised to be a journey to another world where anything was possible. It looked incredible, the creatures looked just right, the design elements looked amazing, and Spike Jonze was directing it, what could possibly go wrong? Essentially, the only thing that went wrong was that this trailer is selling a completely different movie. In fact, with the exception of the short shot of Carol crying, there's no hint of what the movie's true nature was going to be. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, I really do love the movie, but I think I'm not alone in saying that the movie that this trailer promised us would have been even better.
Honorable Mention that I am totally embarrassed that I forgot...
Moonlight Mile (2002)
Here's a movie that I love, that most people have forgotten about, yet I'll never forget seeing this trailer before Road to Perdition all three times I saw it, and I couldn't wait to see it. I love Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon does solid work & Jake Gyllenhaal was starting to grow on me. Add in the Rolling Stones reference in the title & Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight, and this trailer looked amazing. Again, the movie is great, but this trailer is transcendently good...