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10 awesome trailers for not-so-awesome movies

Nite Owl and Silk Specter in front of a nuclear explosion in "Watchmen."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Have you ever seen a trailer that just completely knocks your socks off, only to have your hopes dashed by the final product? For most movie fans, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” The reason is simple: Making a great trailer and making a great film are two very different skills. Masterful editing, a killer soundtrack, and selective exposition can make a Razzie contender look like an Oscar winner, and vice versa.

Over the years, there have been dozens of great trailers cut from subpar films and we’ve compiled a list of our favorites from the recent past. Check out these 10 awesome trailers for not-so-awesome films and indulge in the bittersweet heartache of wondering what could have been.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel Official Teaser Trailer #1 - Superman Movie - Russell Crowe V.O. (2013) HD

Why the trailer was awesome: It’s simple; it’s elegant; it’s epic; it’s Superman. While we were surprised to see Clark Kent go all Deadliest Catch on us, there’s something alluring about the idea that an anonymous workaday stiff might just secretly be the savior of the universe.

Why the movie was less awesome: For some reason, Hollywood (or, more specifically, Zach Snyder) keeps trying to make Superman dark and edgy, forgetting that this franchise could and should be one thing above all else: Fun. The original film became a classic precisely because it didn’t take itself too seriously — it acknowledged and embraced the inherent silliness of its premise. The next time this franchise is rebooted (and it WILL be rebooted) let’s all remember that no one wants a somber Superman.


The Watchmen Trailer *Official* (720p High Definition)

Why the trailer was awesome: The Smashing Pumpkins’ dirge-like The End Is the Beginning Is the End sets the tone for this epic, eerie, slow-burning trailer. Though it features just a line or two of actual dialogue, the spot speaks volumes, telling us all we need to know about these deeply flawed, so-called superheroes.

Why the movie was less awesome: Recent history will tell you that comic books and graphic novels translate well to the big screen — but this story may have been the exception to the rule. The film does its darnedest to weave Alan Moore’s multiple, subversive storylines together, but something about the finished product just feels bloated and … messy.


Masterminds - Official Trailer [HD]

Why the trailer was awesome: This trailer had multiple laugh-out-loud moments (see: Leslie Jones’ description of Galifianakis’ mugshot) and gave fans high hopes for a Dumb and Dumber-style, so-stupid-it’s-smart comedy. Beyond that, there’s something fun and infectious about this spot, offering an energy and momentum that, unfortunately, didn’t translate to the film itself.

Why the movie was less awesome: What do you do if you’ve got a lackluster comedy on your hands? Pack all of your best jokes into a 2-minute trailer and reel in as many moviegoers as you can. Masterminds’ laughs are sporadic, and its shtick wears thin long before the end credits roll.


GOLD - Teaser Trailer - In cinemas now

Why the trailer was awesome: This trailer does a fantastic job of distilling the financial/emotional roller coaster that the film itself is looking to deliver and the percussive, subterranean sound of Barns Courtney’s Glitter & Gold syncs up with the action perfectly. Plus, something about the way Matthew McConaughey says “Gold!” just makes your spine tingle.

Why the movie was less awesome: Despite its intriguing premise, the movie fails to muster any real narrative momentum. While it’s entertaining to watch McConaughey wax poetic about the eponymous precious metal, the rest of the action falls fairly flat.

Tron: Legacy

TRON: LEGACY Official Trailer

Why the trailer was awesome: A trailer for a film like this could get away with just cycling through a few flashy, CGI-dripped highlights of the feature presentation, but this spot builds suspense and tells just enough of the story to rope you in. That approach, combined with Daft Punk’s transportive electro-pop score, makes this one of the most intriguing trailers in recent memory.

Why the movie was less awesome: This film wasn’t bad. It was just sort of … meh. Cool visuals, solid story, but it lacked that heart and playfulness that made the original a cult classic. In addition, Bridge’s fully CGI version of his former self wasn’t quite ready for prime time, getting lost in the “uncanny valley.”

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace Trailer #1

Why the trailer was awesome: Don’t lie, the moment that glittering “LucasLtd” logo appeared on the screen, you got the feels. Even though you’ve most likely been disappointed by the film, this trailer just has that Star Wars magic. “Every generation has a legend … every journey has a first step,” cue theme music alongside a pod racer speeding through the Tatooine desert. Lightsabers, laser blasts, strange planets, stranger creatures, freaking Samuel L. Jackson as a jedi — this trailer has it all, and it had everyone who grew up on the franchise positively giddy.

Why the movie was less awesome: Is it terrible? No. Is it a terrible way to kick of the prequels to George Lucas’ hallowed original trilogy? Yes. Too much CGI, too much Jar Jar Binks, too little of the magic that made the franchise perhaps the most iconic in movie history.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch - Trailer HD

Why the trailer was awesome: To watch this spot is to plunge head-first into an adrenaline-fueled potpourri of beautiful people, mind-bending visuals, and no-holds-barred action. It packs 10 pounds of insanity into a five pound bag, and we love it!

Why the movie was less awesome: We promise we don’t have a secret vendetta against Zack Snyder, but this is the third time one of his films has appeared on this list. In this case, the style-over-substance approach is perfect for Sucker Punch’s 90-second trailer, but it wears thin during the 110-minute film. Unfortunately, Sucker Punch just doesn’t feature the sort of cohesive plot that we need to anchor us amidst its barrage of surrealistic madness.

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded Trailer (One of the best trailers ever!)

Why the trailer was awesome: We open on Trinity bursting out of a skyscraper window. The action slows down as she whirls around to face an agent who’s hot on her heels. Plummeting towards the busy street below, she fires a pair of pistols at her pursuer; cut to Neo waking up with a gasp; cut to Morpheus delivering the spot’s first line of dialogue: “Here we go.” Within 30 seconds, this trailer had fans of the franchise’s first installment hook, line, and sinker.

Why the movie was less awesome: This film gets a bid of a bum rap. Sure, its plot is convoluted and a few of its action sequences border on the absurd, but it’s far from the epic fail that it’s often made out to be. All that said, it just didn’t quite live up to original, or to the promise of its near-perfect trailer.

Spiderman 3

Spiderman 3 2007 Official Trailer 3 HD

Why the trailer was awesome: The tagline puts it perfectly, “The greatest battle. Lies. Within.” It’s Parker Vs. Parker; it’s dark, epic, ominous action set to dark, epic, ominous music; it’s intense, frenetic, and thrilling; it’s everything the film should have been.

Why the movie was less awesome: Oh gosh, where do we start? Actually, it’s obvious where we should start: With emo Peter Parker. Whether he’s behaving as if he wandered on to the set of Footloose, creeping out random women on the street, or swinging from a jazz club chandelier, it’s just so cringeworthy. Even without two of the worst scenes in movie history, however, a glut of both villains and subplots bogs this film down in a doldrum full of the sticky black stuff that transforms our hero into his unwatchable alter-ego.

Indiana Jones 4 – Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones 4 - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Trailer #2 HD

Why the trailer was awesome: This spot taps into the infectious spirit of adventure that made the original trilogy so beloved and promises a film that picks up right where things left off. It features thrilling chase sequences, narrow escapes, John Williams’ iconic themes, and Harrison Ford punching people in the face — what’s not to like?

Why the movie was less awesome: Jones survives a nuclear explosion by locking himself inside a lead-lined refrigerator. We could go on and on, but do we really need to?

Adam Poltrack
Adam is an A/V News Writer for Digital Trends, and is responsible for bringing you the latest advances in A/V…
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