Last March, I did a Top 5 list of trailers that were better than the movie, and the criteria I laid out for that list was simple...
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
Over the past two years, a lot of trailers have come out that looked phenomenal, but then the films themselves turned out to be disappointing at best and flat out awful at worst. Here is my (not at all) definitive list of the latest round of trailers that were better than the movie. You can click the title of the films to read my review of them.
5. Prometheus (2012)
It was a gross oversight to leave this film off my top five last time, and I'm going to rectify that here and now. Ridley Scott, much like another director we'll visit with again later in this list, knows how to cut an amazing trailer. The fact that he was mirroring the original trailer for Alien with the first trailer for its quasi-prequel only helped pump up nerd boners to epic engorgement. Looking at the trailer again, I have a foolish desire to watch the movie again, but having just re-watched it a few weeks ago, I'm also instantly reminded of how eternally stupid this movie is. Everything from characters abandoning their principles to service the plot to the black goo to the horrendously boneheaded decision to cast Guy Pearce and then bury him in unconvincing old age makeup. It's a nightmare of a movie, but damn this trailer's good. I've also included the original Alien teaser for comparison purposes.
4. American Hustle (2013)
What a trailer this is. Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times," wigs aplenty, Christian Bale going balls deep in another character, David O. Russell's trademark camera movements. It's kind of my own fault for getting so pumped about this one, but I couldn't help it, it looked amazing. After my first viewing of the film, I spent a lot of time convincing myself that I liked the film more than I did, but after a second viewing, it's faults came to the forefront and became impossible to overlook. There's still a lot of great stuff in the film, but it's also a huge mess, and would have benefited from another year or so of development. All in all, it's a good movie that features some great performances, but overall it would have been better had it sported the title Tina Fey gave it at the Golden Globes: Explosion at the Wig Factory.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Scorsese's back, baby! That's what I kept telling myself every time I saw this trailer in the four or five months leading up to its release. If he can make a Kanye West song bearable, just think what he was going to do with this movie. While the film itself has its positives, the complete dearth of decent human beings among the characters and the utter douchebaggery of Jordan Belfort made the film an almost unbearable slog through two decades of reprehensible behavior. Scorsese managed to acquit himself of most of the criticism, mainly because he's one of the best visual directors in cinema history, but watching this trailer again brings me right back to a time when I thought this was going to be amazing.
2. Man of Steel (2013)
This one's a bit of a cheat, since I hated the movie, but holy hell was I pumped for this movie, and ninety percent of it had to do with this trailer. This trailer made me forget that Zack Snyder was directing it, and that's reason enough to secure it a place on this list. I was rendered speechless by the quiet moments between Clark and his parents juxtaposed with chaos and destruction. It looked like a masterpiece in the making. We all know how the film turned out, so there's no point in going over that well-worn territory, but it's become increasingly apparent that Zack Snyder has about ten minutes of greatness in him per film, and the way he manages to use that footage in his trailers is an art form unto itself. If the trailer for Batman v. Superman looks amazing, it might be time to start writing its obituary then and there.
1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
This one's a real head-scratcher because this movie wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything near what the trailer led us to believe it was going to be. Much like his work in front of the camera, Ben Stiller has a hard time balancing comedy and drama, and often fails to find that sweet spot where the two can work in harmony. When he's doing straight comedy, like in Tropic Thunder, the result can be sublime, but with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, he had Benjamin Button parodies residing alongside poignant moments, and the movie's a mess. It's a watchable mess, and it works more often than it doesn't, but this trailer promised amazing things. Maybe I'm just blinded by my love of the song "Dirty Paws," but the whole film felt like a huge missed opportunity to do something great.