I love movie trailers. I do. It’s silly, really, but for me, part of the moviegoing experience has always revolved around the anticipation of seeing previews for upcoming films. Sometimes, I look forward to them more so than the movie itself. If I’m going to the theater to see a movie and I miss just one of the trailers because I’m late, it ruins the whole experience for me. And I’m a stickler for watching ALL of the trailers when we rent a movie at home, even if they’re bad. I know. Lame. Drives my wife nuts.
There’s just something about seeing that green band MPAA rating card, shrouded in silence, with the words “The following preview has been approved for appropriate audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America Inc.” If a movie trailer is done right, it’ll tug at you emotionally, it’ll grab your attention and it’ll be a conversation piece. Whether or not the film is actually good is another story. But the trailer can fool you into thinking that even the crappiest of films will be great.
I’ve compiled a list of my top five favorite movie trailers and teasers. However, because there are thousands of films that have been made through cinema’s more than 100-year history, I decided to shorten my range to within the past 10 years. I’m talking movies that were in theaters from 2002 to 2012.
OK, here we go, in no particular order.
"The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)
The first on my list is "The Dark Knight Rises" from this past summer. When "The Dark Knight" hit theaters in 2008, Christopher Nolan not only set the bar for Batman films, but for superhero films altogether. It was so well done that many people wondered how he would top it, or if he even could. "The Dark Knight Rises" was Nolan’s answer. Though "Rises" didn’t meet everyone’s very high expectations, this trailer for it certainly gave people hope that it would.
No matter how you felt about Nolan’s last film in his "Batman" trilogy, you have to admit, the trailer certainly got people talking, speculating how it would all end. It’s a hauntingly bleak two minutes, 12 seconds, with a boy’s rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" intertwined with Hans Zimmer’s minimalist score and the eerie chanting. And then it has the drums, and then the buildings crumbling to form the bat symbol. That was cool, and dare I say epic. And then there’s the teaser line: "The legend ends summer 2012." Chills.
It’s a train wreck. Literally. J.J. Abrams’ film "Super 8" was shrouded in mystery before it was released in theaters. Everything from the plot to the production was hidden from the public. The genius of this teaser is that it takes one of the film’s key sequences and puts it on full display, as if to say, “Yeah, we know this scene is completely awesome, and we’re that confident you’ll come see our film after seeing it. Oh, and by the way, betcha can’t guess what’s in that train car. “ Know what? It worked. It got everyone talking about the film, speculating about what that creature might be. And the teaser gave no clue as to why the film was named "Super 8." Oh J.J. Abrams, you’re so mysterious.
"The Motorcycle Diaries" (2004)
His portrait is one of the most iconic symbols in pop culture. You know the one: the long hair, the beard, the beret. It’s also one of the most controversial. I like this trailer for "The Motorcycle Diaries"—the film based on Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s memoir of the same name—because it’s simply beautiful, everything from the cinematography to the music by Gustavo Santaolalla. The trailer, even without seeing the actual film, does a good job at humanizing a man whom many people despise. It’s about Che before he became Che. It’s a road trip buddy movie, and every time I watch the trailer, it makes me want to go along for the ride. Well, until he eventually becomes an Argentine Marxist revolutionary. But, you know, whatever.
Anchorman is one of my favorite comedies of all time. And this particular trailer completely does it justice.
It manages to make this comedy as epic as it possibly can be.
And it features Kansas’ “Wayward Son,” which only adds to the comedic epicness, if that’s a word. Technically, I don’t think it is.
I love this one for the pure novelty of it. This was the first teaser for Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man."
The film was shot in 2001, and this teaser premiered a couple of months before 9/11. It was quickly recalled afterward. The entire sequence was shot specifically for this teaser. And it all had to be scrapped—well, at least the first 1:25.
Sony re-released the other half of it, you know, the part that actually features Spider-Man.
Have any favorite movie trailers of your own? Let me know below.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 2:32 p.m. on 11/28/12 to correct a factual error: "Super 8" was released in 2011, not 2008 as originally reported.