I love movie trailers! It’s one of the things I look forward to most on upcoming films, and I’ve always looked at them as an art form in and of themselves. Crafting a good trailer that’s effective and powerful is difficult, but when it works there’s nothing better. They can spark our interest, get our hearts racing, and even convince us to see something we originally had no interest in. As such, I enjoy looking back at the various trailers throughout the year to remember which marketing team put together the most memorable ones. So let’s take a look!
[Note: This list is comprised of TRAILERS that were released this year, regardless of whether the film was or not. If the trailer dropped in 2014, it’s fair game for inclusion.]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
While I don’t have this list in any particular order, I feel compelled to list The Force Awakens trailer at the top…mostly because I can’t stop watching it. It’s a damn fine teaser in every sense of the word. The footage gives virtually no indication of the plot, but introduces us to new characters in very familiar settings. It’s an excellent blend of old and new, that has undeniably hooked in long-time fans, while also being intriguing for newcomers.
That’s not to mention the fact that it’s still amazing to me that this thing exists. After Revenge of the Sith in 2005, I never expected to see another Star Wars movie, or any new live-action footage. So seeing this trailer last month was surreal and exhilarating all at the same time.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I don’t think it’s an over-exaggeration to say that the Age of Ultron trailer was easily the second most anticipated movie trailer to hit this year. When Marvel announced it’d be landing with Agents of SHIELD, people wasted no time in leaking it online and gobbling up as much of it as they could…until the official version hit just a few hours later. This trailer was utterly jaw-dropping and I pretty much had it set to replay over and over again.
There are so many things to like about this trailer, and a lot of it boils down to how little we know. James Spader’s Ultron voice-over is chilling and works incredibly well with the creepy version of Pinocchio’s “No Strings On Me”. Not to mention it gives us a good look at all the Avengers new and old, while throwing in some shots of things fans have been clamoring to see on the big screen for years (Hulkbuster armor!). All in all, it had the mystery, the action, and the perfect tone to get fans excited over this movie.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Trailer #2)
When we were doing our 2013 wrap-up last year, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was hands-down my most anticipated film of the year. I couldn’t wait to see it, and that hunger only intensified when this full length trailer landed and totally blew me away. This trailer put the spotlight firmly on the Apes and for fans, gave us a good look at how they’ve progressed in the years since Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
More than that, this trailer set a solid tone for the film, letting you know that the story had deep emotional connections and wasn’t just a blockbuster style film (though it hinted at blockbuster action here and there). For me, that was the great aspect of Rise, and something I hoped would continue into Dawn, which this trailer sold me on completely. Having watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a few times now, this trailer STILL manages to tug at my and make my heart beat with excitement!
Godzilla (Trailer #2)
This trailer for Godzilla is all about setting the tone and letting audiences know that this isn’t the horrible Godzilla movie you’re terrified of. The initial teaser trailer that hit a few months before (while still in 2013) was exciting and offered hints of what’s to come, and the full trailer kept that idea a little, while giving us far more to digest.
Bryan Cranston’s voice over is perfect, and sets a serious/haunting tone for the rest of the trailer. The focus is clearly on the humans, and how they’re going to deal with such an unstoppable force (which is essentially how the movie played out as well), while only giving us quick glimpses of the monsters. While it’s largely a big tease, it’s enough to hook you in and get you eager to see more, which is exactly what a good trailer is supposed to do.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer #2)
It’s no secret that I didn’t particularly care for the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, and resulted in plenty of arguments even here amongst the Cinelinx ranks. For some reason, the initial trailer didn’t connect with me, but the theatrical trailer pretty much sold me on the film. It focused on more of the sci-fi aspects of the film, while also giving me a better sense of the team dynamic.
By the end of this trailer, I wanted to know more, a lot more. I went from marginally interested to completely sold in just a couple minutes. It looked like exactly the kind of film I’d been wanting to see, while also showing a different side of Marvel (another thing I’d been wanting). While it may be a little more generic in terms of playing out like a traditional blockbuster movie trailer, it’s also the one that convinced me this film could be awesome. For that, I’m listing it.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Theatrical Trailer)
The first trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, shown off during SDCC, was amazing in it’s own right but this full theatrical trailer is a work of beauty. This trailer completely blew me away and leaves me wondering whether or not I’ll be able to handle all of the awesome in the full film. While a trailer isn’t always indicative of the final product, I can’t imagine them making such an incredible trailer if the film wasn’t also pretty damn good.
For me, the coolest thing in the footage we see is the incredible looking color pallette. The film looks gorgeous and shakes off the notion that post-apocalyptic movies have to be grey and drab. Moreover, it lines up very well with previous Mad Max movies, making it clear that even though the actor may have changed, this is very much the world we all know and love.
Gone Girl (Theatrical Trailer)
Gone Girl made it onto my list of favorite films this year, and one of the primary reasons I was interested in this movie (aside from it being directed by David Fincher) was this trailer. Much like the film itself, you’re never quite certain exactly what is going on. It presents an idea, and shows off a bunch of possibilities for how this idea will resolve (none of which you could have guessed!), but it’s done in a way that you feel compelled to know the answers.
While the initial idea here, that a man has killed his wife and is trying to get away with it, seems straightforward, there are TONS of hints in the trailer to show that’s not the case. There’s a air of mystery that abounds in this trailer, with a hint of menace…the problem is you’re not sure who the threat is. This hook is what keeps you going throughout the final film as well, and provides an excellent piece of marketing for the movie.
Interstellar (Trailer #3)
The first couple of trailers for Interstellar was all about setting the tone and making it clear that this movie was about the emotion and family aspects. I thoroughly enjoyed those trailers and probably would have seen the film if those were all we got. This third trailer, however, was a step above those, managing to tie-in all the emotional aspects we’ve seen before, with the science fiction/space elements we all KNEW were in the film (but hadn’t seen as much of before).
At last we were able to see some of the “blockbuster” elements in the movie, but retaining that emotional grounding gave us a reason to care about seeing those things. While the ultimate final product and determination on whether that worked is up for debate (some people loved the movie and some hated it), you can’t deny the appeal of this trailer.
While critics so far haven’t been extremely kind to Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, it’s hard to deny the impact of this first trailer. It’s basically just a single scene, without showing anything else from the rest of the film, nor gives any indication about the overall plot, but it’s ridiculously effective.
I remember seeing this in theaters and being completely on the edge of my seat. I don’t know that I’ve experienced this level of tension from a trailer before, and I can think of entire FILMS that couldn’t bring this level of tension and drama to it. It’s impressively done and when the trailer ends without any real resolution it leaves you thinking about it long after it’s over. It makes you want to see what happens next, instantly engaging you without showing anything else.
Frankly speaking, there were a bunch of trailers I enjoyed this year, but the ones listed above stood out the most to me for various reason. I still have some runner ups, however, that are well worth revisiting if you the chance:
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The Raid 2: Berandal
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Trailer #2)
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (Trailer #2)
It’s been a solid year for movie trailers, in both the films we got this year, along with the look ahead to 2015. With so many great films on the horizon (and even into early 2016) I expect that next year’s “Best of” movie trailer list is going to be ridiculously tough to narrow down. I can’t wait! You’ve seen my list, now I want to see yours. What movie trailers got your heart racing this year?