Top 11 Movie Trailers & Why Trailers Are Not Doing Their Job

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Okay Travis, I get it ! You too need help dude, you talk to yourself in a mirror ! God, I love making lists so much. I love it. God help me, I love it. I love it more than my… sorry, if I started talking like George Patton right now. I just watched Franklin Schaffner’s Patton and an idea just came to me after watching the movie, and it was that I should go home and watch the trailer of Inglorious Basterds to see the coolest version of the war ever. And eventually I thought, why not make this list ?

Trailers are meant to arouse (send your dirty minds to the laundry) your interest towards a movie and get your butt towards that comfortable seat of your nearby cinema hall. But most trailers don’t do that. They vice-versa on their purpose. They instead destroy any interest an individual has towards viewing the movie or end up spoiling major plot lines for the cinema goer or end up imprinting a wrong impression about the movie in the minds of the viewer.

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Take the trailer of the movie Drive for example. It was a superb crime drama but the trailer gave the perception that this was an action movie. So, the targeted audience was not acquired by the movie. Instead it got an audience looking for an action film, and they were subsequently disappointed. But fortunately, the people who had read the novel ‘Drive’ on which the movie was based on and also the cinema goers who were already acquainted with the work of Nicolas Refn went to watch the movie and loved it and gave the flick word-of-mouth publicity which resulted in the movie not being a financial failure, but it unfortunately didn’t get as much financial success as it deserved because of the slow first weeks.

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For spoilers, let’s take the trailer of Lord Of The Rings – Two Towers. It began as an extravagant epic flaunting its large scale. The score adapted from Requiem for a Dream added with a touch of epicness just made it mesmerizing. But what happened in the end ?  If you have watched the first installment, Fellowship Of The Ring, you know Gandalf dies in it. But the trailer of Two Towers just spoiled the most important twist of the plot – that Gandalf is actually alive and has now become a White Wizard ! See, if they had just ended the trailer with that shot of Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn staring at a White Wizard, this trailer would have made it into my top 10, but they had to show Gandalf’s face and spoil everything. Why ?!

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As for interest, take the trailer of Conjuring or my all time favourite movie Schindler’s List. Conjuring gave away all the major scares it had in store for the audience in the first half of the movie in the trailer itself. A horror movie owes its success to its surprises, but Conjuring thought that just showing its scariest scenes in the trailer will just bring audience to the cinema hall. But, everyone thought it was going to be another ghost in the basement movie. But it was actually a very good horror movie. Schindler’s List’s trailer gave the perception that it was going to be brutal throughout it. That it was just going to show Jews getting killed from start to end, and believe me, if you are paying 10 dollars to watch a flick, you expect something more than leaving the cinema hall with a headache after seeing people getting killed for three hours. This trailers were extremely misleading and have destroyed the interest people had about watching them. Fortunately, I watched these four after watching the movie.

But the ten I am about to list out now did their jobs. They did it like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook. They are like Citizen Kane of trailers. Many of them were even better than their movies were. The moment I watched them, I knew I had to watch this movie. They revealed nothing about the plot, but had me engrossed even before the movie began. And so it begins :-


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One of the most intense trailers I have ever seen, American Sniper takes us to the point of nervous collapse, and makes our heart to beat faster, just like that of the movie’s protagonist. The trailer begins with two soldiers, one of them Chris Kyle played by Bradley Cooper, with guns and binoculars in their hands, bored and waiting for a call on their next target. Suddenly, they get a green signal on their next target. A 7-10 year old innocent boy. Now, the tension begins and Kyle tries to make a decision of whether to act on the duty or moral side while re-evaluating his life. His hands tremble, but begin tightening around the trigger and right at a point where Kyle either fires the shot or leaves his fingers off the trigger, the trailer ends. It leaves it with what we want from the movie, the tension. It assured us that American Sniper is going to be exactly what it promises to be : gritty, emotional and tense and leaves us waiting for the movie to release as soon as possible. Only if it had kept up with the trailer.


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Heart warming is what this trailer is. Never has a trailer captured the essence of a movie so effectively as the trailer of Boyhood does. We are given brief glimpses into Mason’s life beginning from the first shot to the end shot. Like the movie, it doesn’t show major plot changers in the movie, it just shows the little moments that we cherished later in the movie. We all felt related to the trailer somehow. This had or is happening to everyone of us. And the exquisiteness of the cinematography is flaunted impeccably in the trailer and never have I seen a song being used so perfectly to support the framework of the narrative yet to unfold.


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Haunting. I couldn’t get over this trailer. If I had been an Academy voter, I would have given Gyllenhaal an Academy nomination for his performance in the trailer alone. We are introduced to Lou Bloom, a normal, seemingly innocent guy struggling to meet his ends meet. He has high philosophy and is a ‘nightcrawler’. He doesn’t get sleep for some reason. And one day, he stumbles upon a car accident and notices a camera crew which comes to record the scene. And here’s where it begins. The madness of Lou is unleashed. He has ventured into the news business with an assistant and a fact is shoved into our brain : This guy ain’t innocent. We are given a brief yet tantalizing glimpse into this sadist psychotic mind with no rules. He will do anything for perfection and success. This trailer had a very slow start but in the middle, there is this explosion of thrill and tension which leaves our jaws dropped. But it is the acting by Jake that leaves us mesmerized. The innocent guy who Lou was at the beginning is transformed into this sick yet fascinating monster who we cannot miss to see in action at the nearest cinema hall.


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If you are familiar with the book this movie is based, you might now the title of it is ‘The Accidental Billionaires : The Founding Of Facebook : A Tale Of Sex, Money, Genius & Betrayal’. That is exactly what we are shown in the trailer. We are first given a glimpse into almost all the important features of Facebook. Then we are shown the humble beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg, then the inception of an idea called Facebook which expanded from a Harvard hostel room to almost all the continents in the world (except Antarctica of course, you think penguins are gonna use Facebook ? Are you high after watching Mr.Popper’s Penguins ?!) You are given a brief introduction of the characters and then you are sent down into a delicate rabbit hole of sex (hot girl with Timberlake!), money & betrayal (you see Garfield smashing things and court papers) and of course, the genius portrayed impeccably by Jesse Eisenberg. With its stupendous score and gentle motion, the trailer is a must watch just like the movie itself.


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Mortifying is the only word that runs in your mind after watching the demon unleashed by Simmons in the trailer. I like it when things hit me when I am not expecting them to hit me (expect in the classroom, that compass throwing ain’t fun guys!). The trailer begins with Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, on a date with the girl from Glee (that lucky son-of-a-bitch). They are definitely right for each other it seems. We are immediately given an insight into Andrew’s love for music, when he talks about the music playing in the pizza place. Then, we are pushed into more happiness because Andrew has been selected for the studio band where he is being hailed by the curator Terence Fletcher (J.K.Simmons) as Buddy Rich. But here’s where it begins. Terence seems to be enjoying Andrew’s skills when he suddenly throws a chair at him. Never have I been surprised as much as I was with this shot in my entire movie-going experience, except for a scene in Jaws. First timer Damien Chazelle had given a challenge to Steven Spielberg himself. Then, the tone of the trailer completely changes and the ideologies of both Terence and Neiman are revealed subsequently and we are given glimpses of this epic psychological battle while being thrilled by the haunting score. The trailer did give a spoiler that Andrew breaks up with the Glee girl (yes, I too was happy that she was back in the market but she gets another boyfriend in the end of the movie 😦 ) but that can be forgiven. Yes it can be.


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I hate superhero movies. I freaking hate them. They are stupid, immature, have a weak plot line and are made to cater to just comic book fans. The opposite of the first three adjectives that I used in the previous sentence will give you a description of The Dark Knight. This trailer was haunting. The exquisite cinematography is the first thing that you are amazed by. And then comes Joker. The moving reality of horror and sadism. Every second of the Joker gives you chill. And that Hans Zimmer score is so freaking great. I never gave a crap about this movie before. But Nolan was directing it, so I decided to show a little bit of interest in it. And the trailer just arouse (read the whole sentence pervert!) my whole curiosity. And most of all, Katie Holmes had been replaced ! Instead, we have Jake’s sister Maggie in it. But the character of Rachael is still annoying so Nolan gave us the best of treats, he puts Rachael into all sorts of trouble. Unforgettable is the gritting horror radiated from the trailer.


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There are drugs consumed, there are shots being fired, there are characters dancing, there is sex, and then you know, this going to be one hell of a movie. Nothing is revealed about the plot, not a single thing, the only thing the trailers does is to show few scenes capturing all the actors. But it does its job. The job of converting these L.A. lowlifes to ultra stylized vibrant characters. The trailers shows us how funny it is, how cool it is, how fun its gonna be, and most of all, follows the same non linear narrative method which Tarantino uses in the movie. The movie has already warned the audience of its ingredients : crude humor, drugs, violence, again violence and lots of blood, and an obscenity in every dialogue. Yet if you don’t mid them, you are in for an experience you will never forget.


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It begins with a bang and ends with a bang. The Imitation Game is the most effective trailer in recent years. It begins with a thriller tone and progresses into an emotional one. We feel the plight of Turing who is repeatedly failing at breaking Enigma. Then, we know that Turing has had the hard way and finds it difficult to socialize but after some time, we see four guys standing up for him. Why ? That was the mystery that The Imitation Game shrouded us with. But it was the score by Desplat that made this trailer phenomenal. And Cumberbatch of course ! Playing a genius is in his veins. The way he does it ! Cumberbatch molds a new character but stills brings about some Sherlockian features while portraying Turing enough to make all the Cumberbitches and me to croon. (He is a good looking fellow, alright. Don’t I have feelings ? Can’t I have a man-crush ?)


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Quentin Tarantino has unleashed his true self into the trailer. He puts himself in a whole new genre and instead of getting immersed in it, he reinvents it ! Typical Tarantino. He has put together a whole new tale, a tale of a successful revolt against Nazism by a bunch of another low-lives commanded by an commander so cruel that he feels imposing even though he hasn’t done a single act of cruelty. Till then we were seeing only the plight of the Jews, but Tarantino thought it was enough. So he just made a movie in which Jews kill Nazis with baseball bats. There are guns firing and firing and Hitler shouting ‘Nay!Nay!Nay’. What else do we need ?


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The best thing a trailer can do is to change a person’s perception about the movie completely. For example. imagine if the Godzilla trailer had a mob shootout scene in it. You would be surprised right ? That’s exactly how I felt after watching the trailer of The Theory Of Everything. I expected it to show Hawking writing on library windows, or staring at the universe, or getting a standing applause and all but what happened was I saw a trailer for a romantic movie. The way James Marsh presented a bio-pic about a cosmologist great was by focusing on his unsung love story. That’s where it shook me. And that score ! I knew Johann Johannasson could do serious (watch Prisoners) but a score such lively and inspirational was so unexpected. And I knew I am gonna love this movie and like hell I did !

And the drum roll please (Fletcher’s throwing chairs at me)

It is :


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This Christopher Nolan epic delves into the world of dreams and is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite movies. But, the one thing that I love more than the movie was …… its trailer ! It revealed many a thing but nothing about the plot. It gave you instructions about how to manage and create a dream, delved little bit into Cobb’s personal life and moreover, showed us how intense, genius and epic it was gonna be. That shot of a city going upside down was all it took for me to book a ticket. The cinematography in the trailer gives the movie a noir effect which I cherish and also that score from Zack Hemsey is haunting, attractive, mind-blowing and goes along perfectly with the mysterious essence of the movie. That trailer was just perfect. God help me I love it !

So, I hope you enjoyed my top 10 as much as I enjoyed writing it. Do you have any other trailers in  your mind that you think should have been a part of this list ? Can you name some trailers which enriched or ruined your movie-going experience ? Do you want me to review any sitcom or movie or write about anything related to sitcoms and movies that you think I should write about ? If so, please let me know in the comments.

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