Movie trailers have long been a passion of mine and often times I feel like I look forward to them more than the movies they’re promoting. They’re an art all on their own and I’ve talked about them before when discussing the best Trailers of the 00s. Now, however, with the year winding down, I’ve decided to take a look at the best trailers this past year has given us, as we look ahead to all that 2014 has to offer in terms of marketing!
Let’s talk about this briefly before getting started. This list is specifically for trailers, meaning any trailer (teaser or theatrical) is up for consideration regardless of whether the film it’s promoting has been released or not. It’s not about the movie, but the trailer. All right, that being said, let’s get to it!
Man of Steel
Warner Bros. had an uphill battle when it came to marketing Man of Steel. So many fans were disappointed in Superman Returns that it would take a lot of effort before they were on board with the new vision of the iconic character. It's safe to say that Warner Bros. nailed it with every trailer they released. Every new preview managed to improve upon the one that preceeded it, managing to encourage the jaded fans and drive the anticipation to an all time high.
This trailer in particular (the third one released) is among my favorites as it hints at the larger universe that Man of Steel is a part of. It gives you a haunting glimpse of Krypton and a hint to the events that led the society's eventual downfall. On top of that, it takes the action up a notch and showed off a far more active Superman than we've seen in the films previously. Couple that with the emphasis on the story and character development and you have a trailer the excites, intrigues, and engages the viewer; it's practically a short film!
I had no idea what to expect when Warner Bros. released the first teaser trailer for Gravity, but I was blown away to say the least. It combined the beauty of an arthouse film with the action of something far bigger. More than anything it did a great job on selling the audience on the fear factor involved with being alone out in space and unable to do anything about your situation.
While it didn’t give much away in terms of the rest of the story, this trailer provided a great set-up that had everyone asking for more. Judging by it’s box office success, the trailer was highly effective as a marketing tool, which is exactly what these things are designed to do. Watching it now, makes me itch to see the film again.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
While I was disappointed with Desolation of Smaug overall (though it definitely had it's moments), there's no denying that the film's trailers were amazing. The first two that were released were pretty great and got the blood pumping, but both of them fell short of how incredible this third trailer (released during a fan event) was.
The epic scale of the film is on hand here in this trailer, showing that while the film is still surrounding the original Hobbit story, it also has way more ties into the larger Lord of the Rings world. It gave a better sense of the conflict in the film (one of my largest issues with the first movie), with enough action to get even non-Tolkien fans excited. I don’t feel that the film lived up to this trailer, but even knowing that, I still get a thrill when I watch it.
The second trailer for Elysium was incredibly impressive, and did an excellent job of showing why this movie would be worth a person’s attention. One of my favorite things about director Neill Blomkamp is his world-building capabilities. Despite the science fiction setting he makes the world feel realistic and engaging. This trailer paints the differences rather quickly between the world below, and those who occupy Elysium.
The trailer offered up a better look at the world and events surrounding this particular story, while showing off several good looking set pieces. It didn’t give away too much of the story, meaning there were surprises left to enjoy when you sat down in the theaters.
This is a prime example of the trailer being better than the movie it’s marketing. I know not everyone is going to agree with me on that, but I was sadly disappointed with the final result of Pacific Rim. It’s a movie all about spectacle without any substance. This makes for a great trailer, however, as those are supposed to be all about the highlights and spectacle of a movie.
This one features exactly what fans were hoping to see, tons of robots and monsters fighting each other. Most people understood that this film wouldn’t go much deeper than that. While that turned out to be true, the trailer hinted at some story and a deeper history to this universe. This trailer offers up a chance that this film could be more than a toy commercial. While it didn’t happen, it’s still a fun trailer to watch.
Don Jon isn’t a blockbuster movie with big budget VFX and filled with all kinds of action. Even without that, the trailer for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first directorial effort still manages to stand out from the crowd and make it’s own mark.
Amazing Spider-Man 2
I have a strong feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of disagreement over my choice with this trailer. It seemed very divisive amongst the comic book fan community, with some lamenting the amount of villains present and others blown away by it. I fall into the latter category and see a lot of amazing promise in this trailer.
Ignoring the problems people have with multiple villains, the trailer itself is remarkable. It’s filled with character, story, and a sense of purpose rather than just pure action scenes and spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of action too, but it wasn’t the only focus, which is typically the case with comic book films. It’s the attention to characters and story that made me love the first Amazing Spider-Man and I’m glad the first trailer for the sequel is focusing on that as well.
Not to mention the fact that the action sequences they showed are pretty damn impressive. Visually they’re striking, while also showcasing the unique skills that Spider-Man brings to every battle. When you add in all of the little Easter Eggs as well to pick at, then you have a trailer that’s watchable over and over again. An excellent bit of marketing.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Speaking of comic book movies that finally put the focus on story instead, I have to mention Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This teaser trailer for the film blew me away by putting so much emphasis on the story as well as establishing the tone of the movie. More than a comic book movie, it looks like an espionage style thriller, something entirely different from what we’ve seen from Marvel before.
It’s a change of pace that’s needed and shows that Marvel is willing to push the genre further instead of simply playing it safe as they have in the past. Winter Soldier also hints at something bigger going on in the Marvel universe, where it’s not always clear who’s side our heroes are fighting for. It’s an interesting development that could provide an interesting drama for future films and even Agents of SHIELD.
Godzilla, and monster movies in general, are films that I grew up with as a child and sparked my interest in filmmaking. There's been a special place in my heart for the King of all Monsters throughout all of the ups and downs the franchise has endured. As such, I've been very eager to see the first bit of footage from Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot.
Thankfully the trailer did not disappoint and delivered with an exhilarating trailer, simply oozing with atmosphere. While we only get the quickest of glimpses from the titular monster, what we see is impressive and reminiscent of the classic version most are accustomed to. More than anything, though, this trailer hints at film which goes deeper than destruction and spectacle. Let's just hope the final film manages to deliver on that.
Honorable Mentions (still worth watching and enjoying):
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The LEGO Movie
The Wolf of Wall Street
X-Men: Days of Future Past
While this year has given us a great many movie trailers to spark our curiosity and build up our hype, the ones I’ve listed above stood out to me in ways the rest didn’t. Perhaps it was the way they managed to tell their own mini-story, or simply the promises they offered up on the potential of the films. Regardless of the reasons, these trailers are powerful pieces of marketing and even after their movie has released, they remain enjoyable to watch.
These are my picks for the year’s best movie trailers, what are yours? Would you add any to the list or take them? Let us know in the comments below!