By: W.T. Bane.
Lately we here at Nerd Union have been spending a lot of time talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens and what we think will happen once it finally hits the big screen. Speculation reached its fever point when we witnessed an amazing trailer last week. This led to the discussion of other times in cinema when the trailer was so good that it was actually better than the film it was advertising for. Here are the most outrageous times when the trailer itself was better than the movie.
Wild Wild West
Think back to before this movie debuted. Will Smith was riding high post Men In Black. It seemed like he could do no wrong and this trailer gave us every reason to think that the next film in his resume would be just as good as MIB. It’s got plenty of action, lots of comedy, and all appearances indicated that it would be the next summer blockbuster to kick down the doors to a Will Smith soundtrack. We were lied to. We all know how the film itself turned out, and apparently they took the two good minutes scattered across two hours and put them all to the hit song to get us in theaters.
The biggest issue with the promotional material for this film and its actual delivery was the giant discrepancy between what they made us believe we were getting and what we actually got. Everything about the film screams Alien Prequel, from the style to the sound effects in the background. We thought we were getting the story of the “space jockey” as he’s come to be known and perhaps an origin to the Xenomorph. The trailer sells us completely that this will be the greatest horror sci-fi since the original Alien. Unfortunately what we got was a philosophical meandering of a bunch of questions with no answers. Where do we come from? Who created us and why? The film asks but basically leaves the viewers to wait for the sequel for answers. Also, this isn’t even the same planet as Alien, just one close by. So it’s not the story of the space jockey. It’s just another one that also crashed on a similar planet and somehow gave birth to something that definitely was NOT the Xenomorph. Also, the characters in this movie routinely make the dumbest decisions.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
It had been 16 years since anyone had seen anything new of Star Wars. This was the first glimpse into the first Star Wars film in my lifetime. I’m not sure if fan excitement had ever been higher for a film. Even knowing how the film turned out, being almost unanimously considered the least good of the series, it will still cause some chills to run up your spine, especially when the classic theme explodes onto the screen during the podracing scene. Fans were buying tickets to movies just to see the trailer. Unfortunately not too long after, fan excitement crashed when they saw the film and its failure to live up to its almost impossible levels of hype.
Here is an example of a trailer riding off the nostalgia of it’s previous films to capture your emotions for the upcoming film. The Krypton motif feels regal and is emotionally capturing all its own. Couple it with Marlon Brando’s exposition of who Superman is and why he is there and it just compounds all the greatness that was Superman: The Movie. Superman Returns cast a Christopher Reeve look-a-like in the lead and captured a lot of the same feel as the original but unfortunately never gave enough of its own quality merits to really stick into the hearts and minds of new film goers. I love Superman Returns, but more because of my love for Superman: The Movie than anything else. It’s a great trailer, but an ok movie.
Epic Action + Christian Bale + Nine Inch Nails = Awesome Trailer. That was the formula for this one and it worked. Place an amazingly dark song in the background while showing the war of the machines and John Connor delivering epic speeches and people will get excited. The problem was it was all a lie. The movie isn’t about John Connor. It’s about Marcus Wright, and the trailer tries to convince us otherwise. The movie is really a view of the Terminator world through someone else’s viewpoint. Unfortunately they also give away what should be a big character defining for Marcus when he finds out he is a Terminator, another detriment to watching the actual film.
Back in the pre Marvel Cinematic Universe days, we took whatever comic book movies we could get. The first two Spider-man movies were huge and fan expectations rose even higher for part 3. The trailer delivered and fans showed up in droves to huge money at the box office, and they all paid to see 5 minutes of Peter Parker dancing and crying more than we really wanted of either. Also, the promotional material leaned heavily that we were going to finally see Venom on screen. Except there is a reason why there is more awesome art of Venom than there is of actually good Venom stories. He looks cooler and more interesting than his character actually is, and then Topher Grace stepped in to be a dark mirror for the hero and it didn’t help anything further. A lot of fans complained he was too small for the role, but it wouldn’t matter if it was played but someone beefier. Venom just looks more interesting than he is. You can also add the reason of “too many villains and plot lines” to why this film began to crush under its own weight.
There isn’t much to say about this one. The trailer looks great, but the film itself is entirely uninteresting. It’s people playing video games that don’t matter and the film looks amazing but is utterly flat in giving me circumstances or characters to actually care about. Pretty stuff is happening on screen, but there is nothing really there.
I could write an entire article on just the problems with the Watchmen movie. It’s not terrible, but by no means is it anywhere as good as the book. The biggest issue with the promotional material is that it outright lies to the fans. Everything about it screams that this will be the new summer action film of the year, and they must have scraped into every action scene in the entire movie to piece this together. Watchmen is plot and character heavy. The action takes a back seat for the sake of those two and people went to the movie expecting to see something along the lines of 300 and were given a three hour drama with far more blue penises and far less action than they were expecting.
Where the Wild Things Are
Another example of playing just the right images to just the right song being able to create all the feelings you need for a great trailer. The trailer itself is wonderful and has just the right imaginative and hopeful flair for a story like this. However, the film suffers from much of the same problems as the Hobbit for trying to stretch a very small amount of source material into something much much longer. The trailer is really all you need in this film. It’s wondrous and beautiful and is far more interesting than the final product.
Whoever edited the trailer did a great job of turning that film into a two minute mystery piece of destruction and fear. The film itself does everything but take its self seriously. It’s pretty hard to watch, but the trailer gives a tone of mass destruction and fear running rampant across the country and presents a movie that I wish I got to see. It would only take 16 more years for me to get that Godzilla movie. They were just a little slow on the delivery. What we got in 1998 was just…the less said the better.
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