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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”