Did a trailer finally conquer the tacky narration technique and make it work? Not quite. The latest trailer for Walking with Dinosaurs came close to being Best Stuff worthy, but in comparing it to the first trailer, it’s just way too evident that the voiceover does more harm than good. And even then, the Walking with Dinosaurs trailer is still leaps and bounds beyond the one for Machete Kills. If your money shot is showing off Sofia Vergara rocking boobs with firepower, you’re bound to alienate a significant portion of the audience.
The Best Stuff
1. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
There’s something undeniably enchanting about two people in love and it’s as evident as ever in the new trailer for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Once it pulls you in via the chemistry between Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, it drops a bomb, and a wildly captivating one at that. The tension builds with every beat of the background tune, ultimately leaving you relentlessly curious about the details of the characters’ past, present and future.
2. Monsters University
Monsters University has enjoyed a clever and fun promotional campaign since day one, but it’s wrapping up on a particularly high note because the final trailer for the June 21 release is the epitome of a well-constructed trailer narrative. Whether you’ve seen Monsters, Inc. or not, you’ll walk away from this promo with a solid sense of the world, its main characters, and basics of the situation, on top of the impression that Monsters University could be the ideal summer romp for the whole family. (And I’ll give you a hint: that’s because it really is!)
In a somewhat similar fashion to Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, the first trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners gets an ideal jumpstart from the undeniable appeal of a happy family. Even having seen a good deal of this footage at CinemaCon, the progression of the plot still packs quite the punch. In fact, the material is so engrossing as presented in the trailer that even knowing the trajectory of the story, the footage shown still rocks a degree of shock value.
The Worst Stuff
1. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Admittedly I panned the Percy Jackson and the Olympians promotional campaign only to end up enjoying the full feature, but that doesn’t mean the sequel’s marketing effort is getting away with this garbage. There’s quite a few big issues here including the trailer’s painfully juvenile presentation of the material, failed humor and distractingly cartoonish CGI, but the worst of all might be one tiny two-second detail. At the 53-second mark, Grover’s dialogue is out of synch. What? Like we wouldn’t notice?
I still don’t find talking planes and cars as digestible as talking fish, toys and monsters, but the problem here isn’t the animation -- it’s the material. This whole scenario of the little crop duster that could just doesn’t have the charm and heart of your typical Pixar film, and considering just about every single attempt at a laugh in this piece falls painfully flat too, that leaves Planes with little to no appeal.
When a trailer kicks off with a red flag, you know you’re in trouble. There’s really no worse way to introduce a person to a movie than by using a devastatingly disorienting shot of one person talking while playing dialogue from another conversation. And what does that opening shot of the doctor ranting and raving achieve anyway? For a hot second, the power of the line “I just wasn’t pregnant anymore” hints that there still might be something worth seeing here, but then in comes a confusing time jump followed by a string of shaky-cam shots we’ve seen time and time again, solidifying Absence as a definite pass.
What are your favorite and least favorite movie trailers this week?