Picture this. You’re sitting in the movie theater. Your buttery popcorn is in your lap and your soda is in the cup holder at your side. The lights fade out quickly (finally!) after a long round of previews. You wait in anticipation in the dark for the movie to start. A wave of excitement rushes through you as the opening credits start flashing across the screen. This is it. This is the moment you’ve been waiting anxiously for.
But wait. What’s this? Where did that come from? This wasn’t in the trailer. And why is this plot not making any sense? What is the meaning of this?
We’ve all been there before. We’ve all seen at least one movie that we thought was going to be amazing from the trailer we saw, but it turned out to be less than spectacular. Sometimes it was a major dud. It made us want our money back as we trudged disappointedly out of the theater.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that trailers can be very misleading sometimes. Sometimes we’re promised gold, but we get copper instead. “What you see is what you get” does not apply in these situations. If only the movie for that super awesome trailer we kept seeing on every commercial break we watched on TV would be as great as the trailer. So for all your moviegoers still gripping over wasting $10 at the movies, sit back and enjoy this list of 15 movie trailers that are better than the movie.
15. Prometheus (2012)
The trailer for Prometheus may very well be one of the best trailers ever made. It was just that good. It was chilling and intense. And those wailing sirens blasting throughout the trailer added another layer of drama. Not to mention those softly-spoken words at the end: “Big things have small beginnings.” The trailer left an impression on people long after it ended. Honestly, it still gives me chills to this day when I see it over again. It was a shame though that the movie wasn’t as spectacular as the trailer. The plot was confusing if nothing else. Nothing made sense. The movie started off on a good note, but then somehow descended eventually into a wild rollercoaster of horrific yet unclear visuals, a grotesque scare show that seemed to have the sole purpose of grossing the audience out. Not only that, but the movie left a lot of questions unanswered. Perhaps Michael Fassbender’s stunning performance as David the android was the only thing that managed to somewhat save this film.
14. Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
Music is everything for a trailer. What separates a good trailer from a great trailer is the music playing in the background. If you use a really good song, you will undoubtedly manage to hook the viewing audience. That’s what the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles did. The gloomy, robotic-sounding music fit the trailer perfectly. It matched well with the scenes of Earth getting ravaged by aliens, citizens fleeing for their lives, and soldiers trying to fight back against the extraterrestrial forces. Battle: Los Angeles should have been an epic sci-fi film. Key word: Should. Instead, audiences were treated to something that couldn’t even reach half of the standards the trailer set. Many of the characters were unlikable, and to make matters worse, the actors were given dialogue that should have never worked its way into the final product. The movie was too weighed down by cliché characterization and even more cliché plotlines.
13. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
The 1937 Disney classic Snow White is a fairly lighthearted movie. The 2012 Snow White reboot, Snow White and the Huntsman, offered a darker spin on the classic story. And it looked like a spin that could really pay off. The trailer showed off cinematography that was something of pure beauty. The costuming looked elegant; the special effects were amazing. Everything just looked spectacular. If only the same could be said for the actual movie. The film’s downfall can be accredited to more than one reason. For starters, the acting was problematic. It wasn’t Kristen Stewart’s best work. And then there was the pacing. The movie tended to drag in more than one area, but then felt rushed in other places. A certain character got killed off that we were supposed to care about, but we couldn’t really feel anything from his death because we barely got to know him. The other reason for the film’s downfall was the confusing script that negatively affected what could have been a decent film.
12. The Unborn (2009)
Trailers for horror movies have to do one thing and one thing only: Scare and intrigue the viewers enough that they want to see the movie and be scared out of their minds. After all, everyone loves a good horror movie, right? The Unborn succeeded in doing just that: it scared and intrigued viewers enough that they wanted to see the movie. The trailer was creepy and unsettling, and the movie had the potential to be a great horror film. Alas, the movie didn’t reach its true potential. It didn’t even come close. Everything the film had to offer was in the trailer, which disappointed a lot of horror film fans. They wanted to be frightened, but the movie just wasn’t that scary. It instead relied on cheap thrills that fooled no one. And if a horror film isn’t scary, it’s going to be panned. A lot, per the film’s 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch.
11. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man was good. Spider-Man 2 was fantastic, and was deemed by many to be the greatest superhero movie ever made. It was a great follow-up to the first film, especially considering how for many movies, the sequels never quite match the magic of the original, let alone surpass the original. One could only hope that Spider-Man 3 could match the quality of Spider-Man 2. The trailer made it seem like it could. But Spider-Man 3 couldn’t quite get the job done. It wasn’t a bad movie; but, it was definitely a huge letdown from the previous film, with more than one reason. Too many villains and too many separate storylines made the movie feel like there was too much going on, even when the movie had the longest runtime in the Spider-Man franchise. It just seemed like Sam Raimi had bitten off more than he could chew.
10. Watchmen (2009)
As it was stated above, music is everything for a trailer. It can honestly make or break a trailer. Using Smashing Pumpkins’ “The Beginning of the End” made the trailer for Watchmen. The trailer for the comic book-based film seemed to accurately fit the dark and gritty tone of the comic book series. And the slow-motion shots were simply breathtaking. Now, Watchmen isn’t a bad movie. Some people thought it was great, others thought it was decent at best. It wasn’t guilty of straying away from the source material. It was shockingly accurate in bringing the events drawn out in the comic books to life on the silver screen. It’s just that’s where the film’s fatal flaw comes from: adapting the source material. Watchmen is a 12-issue comic book series. And Zack Snyder attempted to fit all 12 issues into a 2 hour movie, that was probably better off being adapted into a mini-series. Talk about overstuffed.
9. Sucker Punch (2011)
A squad of warrior girls fighting samurai, slaying dragons, and cutting robots to pieces? Well, maybe all that stuff doesn’t mash together. I mean dragons, samurai, and robots don’t exactly fit in the same universe, probably much less the same movie. The movie would either turn out to be a really awesome action movie, or a really bad action movie. There’s not much middle ground for something like that. Sucker Punch appeared like it would be a great film, a high-throttle action ride full of amazing special effects. After all, what’s an action movie without good special effects? All the action scenes shown in the trailer made the movie seem like a must-watch. But after watching the movie, it became pretty clear that all the good action scenes were used in the trailer. Audiences were treated to nothing new, and hardly anything good. The story was hard to follow, and it left a lot to be desired in the field of character development.
8. Green Lantern (2011)
Some people nowadays think there are too many superhero movies being made. They think the movie industry is being overstuffed with too many movies based off of comic books. And the loyal fans of the comic books tend to get very disappointed if the movie so much as strays away a little from the source material. Green Lantern is probably one of the movies that people for and against comic book movies think should never have happened. You wouldn’t have guessed Green Lantern would have done so poorly from the trailer, especially with Ryan Reynolds at the helm making wisecracks. But fail it did, thanks mainly to a poorly-written plot. It’s unfortunate that this movie was the movie that made people wonder, “Why is Hollywood continuing to make superhero movies if they’re just going to be mediocre?” It’s also unfortunate that the film’s ending hinted heavily at a sequel that’s most likely never going to happen.
7. Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
Beautiful visuals? Check. Encouraging messages? Check. Fun indie song playing in the background? Check. You have everything you need for a perfect trailer. Just add in Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” and you’ve already convinced half of the people viewing the trailer to watch the movie. Where The Wild Things Are looked like it was going to be an enjoyable, whimsical film, a heartwarming coming-of-age story based off of a much-loved children’s book. However, the film didn’t exactly match the warm tone of the trailer. While the movie received generally favorable reviews from the critics, many moviegoers felt that the movie’s tone was too dark and that the movie was way more gloomy and depressing than what they were expecting. It even had some people thinking, “this is a children’s movie?” Nonetheless, the director should be commended for converting a children’s book that was less than 200 words into a 90-minute feature-length film.
6. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Many people said the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was one of the greatest movie trailers they ever saw. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet and get around to watching it, you might agree. The movie looked like a fun, imaginative film, about an office worker who finds himself daydreaming frequently about a fantasy world he wishes he could live in, before finally embarking on a global journey to experience the adventurous life he’s always yearned for. The indie song playing in the background of the trailer sounded fun at least. Everything looked so heartwarming and wonderful. Not to say the film wasn’t heartwarming and wonderful—at times. Overall, it just felt like the movie was missing something, something of substance. The script was lacking in a lot of areas. It may have been Ben Stiller’s most ambitious work which ended up failing to meet expectations, but hey, at least he tried.
5. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix was nothing if not influential at its time. It revolutionized film-making for action movies. No movie before it utilized slow motion, moving cameras, and “bullet time” like it did. Its signature special effect was parodied in more than one movie in the years following its release. It was a fantastic movie by all standards. Trying to make a sequel to a nearly perfect movie is highly daunting task, but try the director did. Now The Matrix Reloaded wasn’t really a failing film. A lot of Matrix fans thought it was a pretty good movie. The action scenes were thrilling and intense, no doubt about that. But it just felt like the movie was lacking something. What is was lacking was character interaction. The characters hardly ever talked to one another between all the action scenes, which, at times, made the film seem like one roller coaster ride after another. And when the characters did talk to each other, well, let’s just say the dialogue left a lot to be desired.
4. Terminator: Salvation (2009)
McG. No, it doesn’t stand for the name of some sort of device. It’s the name of the man who directed Terminator: Salvation. His real name is Joseph McGinty Nichol, but for some reason, he chose to use the name McG as a director. Yes, you read that right. Why anyone would choose to hire someone who goes by the name of McG professionally to direct a sequel in a well-liked series is a mystery in itself. It’s no mystery however, as to why the movie failed to live up to the hype presented in the trailer. While the special effects were amazing, you need more than that to carry a film from start to finish. Terminator: Salvation’s storytelling was confusing, boring, and it didn’t carry the same sentiment seen in the previous films. It just didn’t have that same vibe as the rest of movies in the Terminator franchise, which left fans yearning for more.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project was a trailblazer in the world of horror films. It was the first in a trend of found-footage films, the blueprint for successors like the Paranormal Activity franchise, Cloverfield and Quarantine. It fooled theaters of moviegoers into thinking the events captured on film actually happened in real life, thanks largely to a marketing campaign that made it seem like the actors really did get lost in the woods and were still missing. While the movie is decently scary at times, and it made a genius move in never actually showing the main antagonist which left everything up to the imagination, the trailer left out one key detail. It failed to say that much of the movie consisted of the three main characters yelling and swearing at each other over a map and getting lost. It almost makes one wish for less whining and more action.
2. The Village (2004)
Ok, so we all know M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t exactly have the best track record. We all heard about—or worse, seen—the trainwreck that was Avatar: The Last Airbender. But long before Shyamalan was ruining fantasy cartoons, he directed a psychological thriller with a trailer that captivated many. People wanted to figure out the secrets surrounding the small, rural town. Why didn’t the villagers dare tread outside the village boundaries? What kind of creatures were lurking among the trees? The movie succeeded in building up enough suspense from the appearances of the red cloaked-monster—only for the audience to figure out that the “creature” wasn’t really a creature at all. The twist ending disappointed moviegoers across the board. It was a huge letdown, which was a shame because the trailer set high expectations from everyone. The plot twist at the end almost sucked all the magic out of the movie.
1. John Carter (2012)
A cowboy from the 19th century is transported to Mars and becomes a warrior? What could possibly go wrong from a movie with a plot like that? You certainly wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that. But things went wrong. Very wrong indeed. The trailer for John Carter promised a nonstop action ride full of thrills against the backdrop of a picturesque and highly advanced distant world. Not to say the movie wasn’t full of thrilling action scenes. It was; but it didn’t have an easy-to-follow storyline. It left more questions unanswered than answered (What is the ninth ray, anyway?), and left a lot of people scratching their hands as they tried to understand the film’s confusing plotlines. If that wasn’t enough, the pacing also felt off; at times the movie seemed to drag on, other times it felt too rushed. It’s sad almost that the director planned for two sequels that will probably never come to fruition.