The Best - and Worst - Movie Trailers of the Week

The Best - and Worst - Movie Trailers of the Week

Jan 31, 2014

Super Bowl XLVII is still a couple of days away, but the movie industry is already tapping into the pregame buzz to milk its big- money TV spots for all they’re worth. We’ve already got the full promos for Draft Day, Noah and 3 Days to Kill, as well as part one of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 ad. On top of that, you can already watch Terry Crews giving it everything he’s got alongside the Muppets trying to sell Toyota Highlanders and Laurence Fishburne in Morpheus form telling you “the truth” about the Kia K900. However, whether these babies gobble up the game-day commercial hype or not, they’re still TV spots, not trailers, and that means this week’s Best Stuff honors belong to three other contenders. 

The Best Stuff

1. The Fault in Our Stars

If a two-minute-and-30-second trailer can conjure tears, just imagine the influx of waterworks coming our way in the full feature version of The Fault in Our Stars. The transition from Hazel’s sugarcoated rendition of her story to the real deal gives the piece an instant connecting factor, suggesting the typical big-screen romance we’re used to and then hitting you with the brutal reality. Midway through, not only do we know the main players, but we already care for them pretty deeply. So when exposition gives way to heartwrenching visuals and overwhelmingly powerful performances, you can’t help but absorb the characters’ emotions. 

2. Maleficent

It’s as though the character Maleficent was created just so that Angelina Jolie could bring her to life on-screen. This casting is so uncanny that all she’s got to do is mutter things like “well, well” and laugh to make you feel her threat; a threat that’s amplified tenfold when paired with Lana Del Rey’s remarkably fitting warped cover of “Once Upon a Dream.”

3. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Based on this new very NSFW red-band trailer for A Million Ways to Die in the West, the film is without a sufficient through line, but who cares? The movie looks like an absolute blast! It’s like a comedic spin on Final Destination loaded with outrageous deaths, hilarious jokes, one-liners and spot-on timing. Could Seth MacFarlane do it again even before Ted 2 hits in 2015? It seems so.  

The Worst Stuff

1. The Zero Theorem

In an industry oversaturated with used and abused scenarios, something fresh and unusual like the situation in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem should have instant appeal, but that’s only if you sell it well -- and in this case, the film’s first official trailer totally misses the mark. Christoph Waltz, the bold color palette and the highly unique universe raise intrigue, but in the end all it really is is a pretty picture because Qohen Leth’s dilemma is too abstract to understand well enough to care.

2. In Fear

Ever since the In Fear poster hit just before the film’s 2013 Sundance debut, anticipation has been sky high in hopes the final feature would justify hanging up this clever design. Sadly, based on the film’s new trailer, it looks as though it’ll wind up being more of the same. For a split second, the thought of driving and never reaching your distance is disconcerting, but the moment Alice Englert’s character states that they’re in a maze, it sucks all of the tension out of the situation by suggesting she knows more than she should at that point. However, in context, such a realization could push the narrative forward, so hopefully this promo’s lack of suspense just comes from poorly chosen scenes to tease and/or unsuccessful trailer editing.

3. Stalingrad

The new trailer for Stalingrad is brimming with explosive, layered and stunning visuals, but there’s no reason to care about what’s happening in the frames because this promo doesn’t deliver a single plot point. The trailer dubs the film the story of “the greatest battle in history,” but what about the folks who aren’t familiar with the narrative’s factual roots? Perhaps that’s where other story elements like characters, relationships and goals could have offered a better connection to the material, but the piece forgoes it all and settles in as an IMAX 3D advertisement rather than an effective movie trailer.

What are your favorite and least favorite movie trailers this week?

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