Best and worst trailers of 2016
"Suicide Squad." (Trailer screenshot)
Warning: Some of the below trailers may be offensive to some readers!
IN A WORLD… where movie-trailer production houses make terrible films look good and good films look better… ONE MAN dared to look back on them and pass judgment.
That one man would be… me.
Conversely, it takes a special kind of incompetence to make a good film look terrible. So we’re not letting them off the hook either.
Here’s our backward glance at this year’s coming attractions.
THE BEST TRAILERS
SUICIDE SQUAD – It’s probably been years since the chasm between trailer quality and finished product has been this vast. Admit it. Those action-packed trailers set against Bohemian Rhapsody and Ballroom Blitz convinced you this movie was going to rock your world.
DEADPOOL – You got a taste of the plot, you got a hint of the tone with a bit of Salt-N-Pepa from the soundtrack. And as he’s wheeled into the surgery that turns him into Deadpool, you hear Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) say “Please don’t make the supersuit green. Or animated.” The trailer effectively said, “We come to bury Green Lantern, not reboot him,” and put our minds at ease.
THE WOODS – It was the year of the “surprise,” including Beyonce’s surprise album Lemonade, and two surprise movies (see also 10 Cloverfield Lane). In the spring, Lionsgate began running spooky trailers for a horror film entitled The Woods, with a creepily-slow rendition of Every Breath You Take accompanied by blurbs like “a truly terrifying cinematic experience.” In July, it announced The Woods was actually Blair Witch, the long-awaited sequel to The Blair Witch Project. The movie ultimately was meh. But the marketing was killer.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE – J.J. Abrams put the tease in “teaser” with the original Cloverfield, a minimalist trailer with a roar followed by the rolling head of the Statue of Liberty. In January, moviegoers saw a trailer of life in a bunker with John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. They caught the sinister undertones, heard the words, “Something’s coming!” and saw the title for a movie opening in mere weeks. That’s right, a sequel to a mega-hit had been made, and the world was only just now hearing about it.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES – Jane Austen-era babes with knives in their garters advance in unison like ninjas. Or like Charlie’s Angels to the manor born. The movie struggled and often failed to maintain this kind of woman-warrior energy. But for the length of a trailer, you felt like the “Austen/horror mash-up” book craze was finally going to nail it on film.
LA LA LAND – That already-ubiquitous song City of Stars plays in the background, while Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dance in the night sky against the backdrop of the moon. It’s a beautiful image that tells you nothing about this movie… and everything.
LIGHTS OUT – In a way, this was a no-brainer – the trailer for a horror movie that was based on a Swedish YouTube short with 100 million views. But the herky-jerky supernatural attack by an entity that only exists with the lights off (here’s a thought: keep the damn lights on!) was the movie’s singular scare – perfect for getting movie audiences to jump out of their seats.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – Whatever you thought of the movie, this was the classic example of a trailer that hooks you with the essentials: action, antagonism (that great face-to-face stand-off between the opposing factions of Avengers) and a buzzy cameo (Tom Holland as Spider-Man).
THE WORST TRAILERS
STAR TREK BEYOND – What was every Trekker’s worst nightmare? That Fast & Furious director Justin Lin would turn Star Trek Beyond into Fast & Furious in Space. And that’s exactly what the initial trailer misguidedly gave us, to a Beastie Boys soundtrack. You knew the trailer was a “fail” when writer/co-star Simon Pegg apologized for it.
GHOSTBUSTERS – For the record, it was the most disliked trailer in movie history, with over a million thumbs down votes on YouTube. Admittedly, some hated it for spurious, even misogynist reasons (and others simply piled on, anxious to push it to the record mark). But Melissa McCarthy also chimed in, calling the trailer “confusing.”
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS – It’s a book that plays out within a movie. Not even a hint in the trailer that that’s the plot. You could watch it over and over and not have clue-one what the movie’s about except that Jake Gyllenhaal's got a gun.