From ‘Paranormal Activity’ to ‘Star Wars’: 7 Trailers Better Than The Actual Movie

One of, if not the, most important part of marketing a film is the trailer. In fact they have become such a big deal that we are now getting teasers for the actual trailers and with good reason. In recent years they have become events by themselves inspiring the glee (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), mystery (The Woods) and even outrage (Ghostbusters) that most actual movies can only dream of. At this point trailers are their own piece of cinema and I make sure I get there early enough to see them every time I go to the movies.

That doesn’t mean they’re always a good representation of the movie though. While movies have to have tell a complete story at their core trailers are advertisements. Studios regularly use them to show off their most exciting scenes, biggest scares and even plot twists. Sometimes you’re just plain tricked and the trailer is the best part of the movie. Those times are what I will be going over today with my list of 8 Trailers Better Than The Actual Movie.

Godzilla (1998)

A down on his luck fisherman sits on the pier as his friends laugh at him. Finally catching something things quickly go wrong when his pole is forcefully pulled into the water. The ocean rises around a concealed monster as it heads closer to shore, it’s sheer size destroying the pier from below. It’s a genius way of showing how big Godzilla is without giving away the anything.

What we actually got was, well, a Roland Emmerich movie. While this is fine for some movies (looking at you White House Down) it doesn’t work for Godzilla. It doesn’t when they decide to have the human piece of white bread Matthew Broderick in the lead role. With a poor script, even worst human casting and an altogether lack of understanding what makes a Godzilla movie fun the movie was an absolute failure.

Alien 3

Opening on what seems to be a planet some kind of is quickly revealed to be a xenomorph egg. Cracks open a blinding light emerges to reveal the Alien 3 logo before revealing that the titular Aliens would be coming to Earth. After having the past two films taking place in space the film taking place on a futuristic Earth makes total sense. They even had a great tag line with “On Earth, we will discover that everyone can hear you scream,” or at least it would have been.

Absolutely nothing like the teaser. As it turns out the teaser was released before anything had been decided let alone filmed. A notoriously bad production 20th Century Fox would go through 30 screenplays, have multiple sets were built, and gone through multiple directors before settling on the version we have today. While not the worst movie ever the Alien 3 we got is nowhere as cool as the idea of the Aliens finally making it to Earth.

Superman Returns

Coming out in 2006 Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was DC’s next big movie after the success of Batman Begins. Heavily influenced by the Donner movies we get shots of a younger Clark discovering his powers and a crowd outside the Daily Planet looking up to the sky. While fairly nondescript by itself the scenes were made to feel grand underneath the familiar John Williams score and a speech from Marlon Brando’s Jor-El. It all leads up to a shot of Superman, his eyes closed, high above the planet. Opening his eyes he darts to the Earth like a speeding bullet before we get a view of the Superman shield. It’s a beautifully edited trailer with the references to the past giving it a grandiose feel comic movies lacked at the time.

Now it has been some time since I have seen the Donner movies but I am pretty sure they didn’t involve Superman being a negligent father. While not the disaster some make it out to be there is no denying it felt a bit lifeless. Certainly not the epic most were expecting.

Friday the 13th Part VIII- Jason Takes Manhattan

We start with a view of the New York skyline as a jazzy rendition of ‘New York, New York’ plays. Closing in we see a large man staring at the city from across the Hudson River. Approached by a passerby the man is revealed to be Jason Voorhees! We get random clips of people screaming in terror are around the city. Sure it’s a bit minimalist but it sets the stage perfectly.

As it turns out New York City isn’t really in the movie. For more than half of the movie the movie takes place on a cruise ship heading to NYC. Even for a Friday the 13th movie the idea of a giant like Jason Voorhees being able to go unnoticed seems pretty silly. A shame because once 80’s New York is a great playground for a slasher like Jason. I guess we’ll have to settle for it taking place at Camp Crystal Lake for the rest of our lives.

White Noise

Going the ‘based on a true story’ route we open with “real” EVP saying a variety of things from I love you to get out. If you can suspend your disbelief it makes for an entertaining way of showing this movie’s gimmick. At the time torture porn and remakes of Japanese movies were the big thing so an original ghost story felt fresh. I was certainly excited at the time.

So imagine my surprise when what we got was more Frequency than The Conjuring. For the most part it played more like a supernatural movie with Michael Keaton solving some lives with the demons haunting him more in the background. Even worse they took this unique (at the time) concept and made it absolutely boring. It was bad, real bad. So much so that as we walked out of the theater all I could do was apologize to my friends for convincing them to see this.

Spider-Man 3

While beloved the first two Spiderman movies are pretty basic affairs. While enjoyable the two feel more like a typical origin story and hero saves the city tales. With Spiderman 3 we were looking to get something more complex thanks to it being an adaption of the Black Suit Saga. With Harry finally going after Peter. The whole thing had personal stakes that made the conflict feel important. At least that is what we were promised.

Audiences got this just not in the way they wanted. Instead of Peter Parker dealing with his anger in an interesting way we got Parker in two separate dance numbers. Nor did we get Harry Osborn pursuing Spiderman for killing his father. The writers thought that an amnesia storyline would work better. Add Sandman being the one to kill Uncle Ben and a new villain being shoehorned in and felt more like an episode of The Young and the Restless than a superhero movie

Paranormal Activity

Unique at the time they advertised the film by showing reactions from members of the audience. Seemingly on the edge of their seat there are plenty of shots of people screaming and jumping in fright. A variety of terrifying scenes were shown while we get quotes from sites like Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central. By showing not just clips but reactions it really is an effective way of selling the movie.

Well you certainly can’t say there’s no truth in advertising because all of these scenes are in the movie. As it turns out they were pretty much all of the big scares in the movie. While the context of why they happens helped the movie loses something when you are able to predict what is coming next. While they would use original or alternate takes in future trailers I definitely left the original thinking I had already seen everything.

Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace

Released in 1999 Episode I wasn’t just a movie, it was a cultural event. In case you are too young or were living under a rock I can’t express enough how big Episode I was at the time. The promotional push was massive with Taco Bell cups, fake bronze busts in cereal and Pepsi cans for even minor characters. Heck ‘Dual of the Fates’ was frequently on Total Request Live, official tastemaker of 1999. And it all began with the first trailer. Based around Anakin Skywalker’s time before becoming Darth Vader what we got a saw seemed like perfection. The return of beloved characters, a mysterious new villain and the familiar John Williams score made us all think that George Lucas had down it again.

Now the prequels have been critiqued to death and I don’t think I can say anything not already mentioned by thousands of others. Pretty much every Jar Jar Binks joke has been made at this point and most seem to agree that the pod racing scene was way too long. What I will say is that I guarantee nobody saw that trailer and expected overly long scenes involving a galactic trade federation.

Did I Miss Any? Do you disagree with a pick? By all means let me know and hit up the comments section.

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