Have you ever seen a preview that blew away all your senses, then months later you went and saw that movie when it came out and it was just so disappointing, but you still recalled how awesome that first trailer was? I’m counting down my top five movies that I wish had been as awesome as those first teasers I saw at the cinema.
The Criteria: the movie must have either had a good trailer and been anywhere from disappointing to really bad, or had an amazing trailer and just not quite lived up to how amazing the trailer was.
Honourable Mention: Godzilla (1998). I never saw this teaser trailer in theatres, but I watched it on the DVD bonus features, and realized if I had seen that teaser back in the cinema, I would have gone through the roof with excitement. Just a simple yet harrowing shot of Godzilla’s foot smashing through a museum ceiling, crushing a T-Rex skeleton, and then walking off. If only the trailer had shown more of the terrible CGI that was to come…
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 American version)
I prefer the original Swedish version myself, but David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was still an impressive adaptation of the novel. But remember that trailer for it? That opening of the snowy driveway, then switching to rapidly cut footage, constantly cutting back to the driveway, with that thumping cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” playing to the beat of the trailer, with those big titles taking up the entire screen, flashing just long enough for you to read them? The movie was good, but that was a unique, attention-grabbing preview more thrilling than the actual film.
Unlike many fans of the original Alien, I actually really liked Prometheus. Despite many discrepancies with the poorly written characters and heady ideas that failed to fully come to light—all attributable to co-writer Damon Lindenof—I thought Prometheus was an exciting and chilling science-fiction film that didn’t insult the audiences’ intelligence by explaining everything (but some things could have been explored a little further) and held its own considering the staggering expectations. One of the reasons expectations were soaring was the incredible trailer. It featured the title slowly forming—like it did in the original Alien’s opening credits—over tidbits of scenes that showcased the lavish set designs and special effects without giving too much of the story away. Luckily, I knew before going into Prometheus that whatever I was about to see just couldn’t live up to that first trailer, and unfortunately I was right.
3. Spider-Man 3
Back in 2001 we got the very first teaser of a Spider-Man movie. It showed Spidey web slinging from the World Trade Center, but after 9/11 that preview was hastily pulled from theaters. Spider-Man came and went, then we got a preview for Spider-Man 2, and it was even better than the first. I remember sitting in the theater, waiting for Pirates of the Caribbean 2 to begin, when the theatre went dark and the first preview started. It began with some text on a red background, then this black goo started stretching over everything, the camera pulls back, and reveals…black suited Spider-Man? From that moment, I was eagerly awaiting Sam Raimi’s third entry in his Spider-Man franchise. I went opening night—the theater was packed, and right from the beginning, I could feel something was off. Wow, was something off, alright. In retrospect, Spider-Man 3 wasn’t as bad as everyone (including myself) thought it was. It was, however, a huge step down from the first two and not even close to the hype the trailer inspired. There were just too many villains, too many silly moments, and the first two set the bar exceptionally high. Maybe if the preview had shown emo Tobey Maguire dancing, then our expectations would have been lower.
2. Terminator Salvation
Most fans of the Terminator franchise will tell you the first is a classic, T2 is one of the greatest action films of all time, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines sucks. As one of those fans, I can and did just confirm this. So when Terminator Salvation was announced, I was pretty psyched. It had a good cast, and was finally going to show us what the post-apocalyptic world Skynet had induced was really like. Until Salvation, we’d only seen glimpses of it—now there was a whole movie set there! The first trailer blew my mind. It was gritty, action packed, had terrific dialogue, and genuinely looked like the Terminator I had been waiting for. Still, I had doubts. I went in with an open mind, just hoping it would be better than Rise of the Machines. Well, it was, in most regards. Overall, Terminator Salvation disappointed, even though I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, the action was often sub-par and the story uninspired. I re-watch that trailer and it makes me wonder: what happened? Then I remember the director’s name is McG and he made two Charlie’s Angels movies…
1. TRON: Legacy
Question: what was the one good thing that came out of going to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland? Answer: seeing the TRON: Legacy trailer in 3D.
I knew very little about the 1982 film TRON at this point, other than it was some guy trapped in a game. The TRON: Legacy preview was jam packed with vibrant visual effects, had an awesome soundtrack by Daft Punk, and there was even a shot of Olivia Wilde in a skin-tight suit. From that point on, I was intrigued. Further trailers showed clips from all the action scenes, and guess what? Those were the best parts. When I see a trailer, I think “Wow, that looks great, I hope those aren’t the best parts of the movie.” In this case, they were. The rest of the movie was bland and boring, with lots of talking and little character development. I have since checked out the original TRON and can say, despite the effects being incomparable to Legacy’s, that film at least had heart and broke new ground back in the day. Plus, Jeff Bridges looked like he actually cared back then and wasn’t just there for the paycheque.