I don’t think this has necessarily been the strongest year for trailers, but I still think I found some decent ones to choose. I guess what characterizes these is a lack of gimmickry, there aren’t any cute teasers here, it’s mostly traditional trailer-craft set to music. I am limiting this to movies that I’ve been able to see, so I can both judge how well it captures the true essence of the film and also make sure that it isn’t giving to much away.
- The Expendables: The Expendables ended up being a real dud as far as I’m concerned, it had the stars but the movie itself feels closer to a direct to DVD action film than one of the movies any of those guys would have made in their prime. That was not, however, readily apparent in this trailer, which effectively makes this look like a movie with a lot more weight (by dumb action movie standards) than it actually was. Make no mistake, the trailer makes it clear this is a Stallone joint, but it also makes it look like something a bit more… dignified, than the final product.
- Inception: What I admire about this trailer is its efficiency. It manages to give a reasonable explanation for the movie’s complicated presence (all without giving away many major plot points) while also selling it for its visual grandeur and as the badass action film it is. It also gives Hans Zimmer’s score a real workout and chooses just which visuals to give away without showing too much. And it does it all in two and a half minutes.
- The Social Network: Set to a choral version of Radiohead’s 1993 hit Creep, this trailer begins with now ubiquitous images from Facebook, before flashing back to 2003 and the site’s founding. You’re seeing images of smart kids doing smart things, but there’s an ominous tone to the whole thing. As the music digs deeper into its emotional desperation, the images become more and more intense, building up to some of the film’s more dramatic moments (out of context). You don’t know what these people are angry about, but you know you want to find out.
- The Town: Here’s another entry in the “make you movie look bigger than it really is file.” The Town itself is a wannabe, it really wants to be The Departed (it’s from the same studio!) meets Heat, but it isn’t, it’s ordinary and forgettable. But you wouldn’t know that from the trailer, which uses a thumping score and some really well chosen moments in order to make this look like a really dramatic crime thriller for the ages. It worked too, putting a lot of butts in seats.
- True Grit: Before the trailer debuted, we didn’t really know what to expect from True Grit (the Coen brothers remaking a John Wayne movie?), but once the trailers came in there really was no doubt that this was going to be a major film. The trailer sells the movie as a western epic (albeit one with some funny moments) and the use of Johnny Cash’s “Gonna Cut You Down” perfectly sells the films western brutality and the movie’s themes of revenge and retribution.