Saturday, March 8, 2014

5 Coolest Movie Trailers (In Recent Memory)

You know, whenever we talk about movie trailers, there's always the question of whether or not we are overblowing their importance, especially here in Malaysia; where posters and trailers are - more often than not - just there to fulfill some sort of a requirement, as opposed to what they are: powerful marketing equipment.

You'd think that this only applies to films that are funded through questionable means. But half the time, even movies made with earnestness end up looking like nobody gives a crap about the end product. The former can't be helped since the people behind them are in it for the wrong reasons, but people in the latter are actually interested in show business and in the industry, so it pains me to see how they squander their resources sometimes.


It's not exactly a mystery to me how it keeps happening. I've made hypotheses in the past, and to sum it up here: we just don't have that many things to play with. Until changes or improvements are made within LPF and Finas; and the way our creative workforce gets treated; don't expect things to get better any time soon. If that sounds very bleak of me, I'll have you know that I believe change is coming.

I'll delve into that another time.

For now, here are five really cool movie trailers that I think we can all learn from. I don't know about you, but I remember how I felt after I saw each of these trailers for the first time (i.e. "I have to fuckin' see this!"). Granted, not all of them lived up to their hype, but that's kind of beside the point here. A damn good trailer would at the very least help you sell tickets, while a bad one would only kill your chances before it's even screened.

By the way, this is in no way a definitive list. What are some of your favourite movie trailers?

Honourable mentions:
John Carter [2012]

Type: Theatrical | Did the movie live up to the trailer? Not really.

It's the fifth biggest box-office bomb in film history, but I really don't think the film deserves that. It has its moments and payoffs; I didn't regret seeing it, but I wouldn't recommend it to movie-goers in general. You have to admit, however, that the trailer was pretty cool. What really made it for me was how Peter Gabriel sang My Body Is a Cage and lent it an eerie and haunting atmosphere. The film had tonal issues, the trailer sure didn't.

Frozen [2014]

Type: Teaser | Did the movie live up to the trailer? It surpassed it!

I suppose you could call it a bait-and-switch, because Frozen is no Ice Age, not by a long shot. But you wouldn't know that from that teaser up there. Surprisingly, it was that teaser - obviously meant to attract children - that got me interested in the movie, and it was the theatrical trailer that left me feeling unsure if I want to see it. But of course, the two seemingly conflicting trailers got me feeling even more curious than before, and what can I say? Disney's lil' gambit worked. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, as did a lot of other people.

And I mean a lot of other people.

#5 KIL [2013]

Type: Theatrical | Did the movie live up to its trailer? Absolutely.

Part of KIL's appeal, I suppose, was how it kinda floated in cyberspace for a couple of years before it finally saw the light of day. I remember thinking that if there's anyone out there who'd declare that this trailer is "bertaraf Hollywood / antarabangsa," for the first time ever I wouldn't protest. It did more showing than telling, yet it only let you know just enough to create intrigue; and the music lent such an intense feel befitting of the images, I knew I had to see it when it came out.

I only cracked one joke after the trailer's over: Akil isn't terrified to stare down the barrel of a gun, he'd only wonder what the hell are you doing with a gun, and why are you bothering him with it?


#4 Inglourious Basterds [2009]

Type: Theatrical | Did the movie live up to the trailer? Hell yeah.

I'm not even gonna say anything. Tell me you're not pumped after watching that. By now you might have noticed that there's a trend here: have the audiovisual work in perfect harmony, and you'll leave an everlasting impression on this viewer.

#3 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [2014]

Type: Theatrical | Did the movie live up to the trailer? Yeap!

Two things I knew about the film before I even saw the trailer. One, I've read the short story for a literature class back in my uni days. So I suppose you hardly needed to sell the film to me, I was already curious about seeing it on the big screen. Two, coincidentally I knew after the first three notes what song played throughout the trailer, and already I liked the feeling I thought they were going to evoke. It didn't disappoint.

The subject matter helped too. I can totally relate to someone like Walter Mitty, and I imagine that's exactly how I might turn out had I stuck to a career in teaching. Or any 9-to-5 desk job, for that matter.

All right, so the film soared my expectations, the themes and subject matter were close to my heart; but what of the trailer? Well, you will note that nobody said a word (until 1:44), yet it perfectly captured how uplifting the film was going to be. So I say it was a pretty damn good one.

#2 Elysium [2013]

Type: Theatrical | Did the movie live up to the trailer? Too bad it didn't.

It's pretty common for a movie trailer to be way more interesting than the actual film. But Elysium stands head and shoulders above the rest because when was the last time you saw a trailer with a plot twist in it, while the movie itself played things straight? What plot twist? Recall the first time you saw the trailer, and then that moment at 0:47 came, tell me you didn't have an "oh shit" moment right there. "I thought Elysium was like a district or something!"

The movie itself was pretty good. It's just that the trailer was better.

#1 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [2011]

Type: Teaser | Did the movie live up to the trailer? Eyyyhhh yeah. Kinda.

Another case of the trailer triumphing over the actual movie. Not even the theatrical one, but the teaser trailer. Now I must stress that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a haunting and a visually-stunning thriller, but if you've never seen that teaser up there at the cinema, I'm afraid you've missed something really awesome. In fact, when TGV Bukit Raja first played it, I don't think they knew what it was gonna do to their speakers; because for the subsequent plays, they turned the volume down, and I was so disappointed.

Similar to Walter Mitty's, not a line of dialogue was spoken. Instead they created intrigue by feeding us images played to the beats of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, as covered by Trent Reznor. That might just be the coolest sentence I'd get to write all week. Granted, it didn't tell us much - if anything at all - about the story, but teaser trailers aren't supposed to. They're only supposed to tease, and teased me it did.

The movie? Yeah, it's good. But it's this teaser that I keep coming back to.

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