Have you been so thrilled when watching a movie trailer that you can’t wait to watch the movie when it hits cinemas?
Some of these awesome movie trailer gems encapsulate the film’s essence so well in those 30 seconds, yet don’t reveal any secrets while reeling you in. Some might even purposely mislead to surprise you with a twist, or even entice moviegoers to pick a genre they wouldn’t ordinarily go for — in a good way!
Here are 20 movie trailers that turned out way better than the actual movie, in no actual order of ranking or release date.
The Godzilla trailers from the 1998 American movie are like the TikTok clips of the movie world. They’re short clips taken from the full-length feature, instead of snippets plucked or cherry-picked from throughout the movie. Yes…we know there’s potentially less editing work involved, but it’s nice to be treated to a full albeit short sequence as a teaser instead of a bunch of random clips that tries hard to make sense (sometimes with the help of text supers).
Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
For Star Wars fans, the excitement of finally catching a glimpse of the prologue to their fave 1970s film (that was way ahead of its time, tbh) was palpable. Those born in that era had waited over two decades (1999) for this taster! But nevermind the anticipation — what makes this trailer so good is that it gives hardly anything away, yet teases with new and improved graphics coupled with the return of our beloved Star Wars characters. And then there’s that oh so ominous scene where Yoda says his famous lines, there’s a warning “This boy is dangerous” and we’re so hyped up for the backstory of Anakin Skywalker (and we all know who he becomes in the end…).
From the trailer, you’ll expect Marvel’s beloved heroes to go on a profoundly personal journey, flecked with emotion and moving character development. Ultimately, Fantastic Four (2015) tries its best, but never manages to hit the right notes, with sensitivities going out of the window once the characters have sorta been introduced (like ticking this off the to-do list before progressing into the action). But the trailer is still great!
Lady in the Water
When the trailer proclaims loud and proud that it’s an M. Night Shyamalan film, the movie had better be good. Lady in the Water (2006) kinda falls flat, although the movie trailer does a good job of portraying it as a modern day fairytale with some fantasy and mystery elements…with the premise around a guy who discovers a “lady in the water”, which sets off a chain of events. Oh well, at least the movie trailer editors tried their best.
We’re familiar with the Alien series, including how average the Alien 3 movie was. In any case, the trailer does better than the movie, partly because it is a fraction of the runtime, but also because it has all the iconic elements of what makes Alien 3…well, Alien 3. You get all the moments in this one, from that of the classic alien breathing down neck, typical trailer tropes (like a template, possibly) and even a tagline that’s in your face and attention-grabbing but maybe doesn’t do anything but look badass and cool.
The Last Airbender
For fans of Avatar Aang’s antics and the animated series, watching it come to life on the big screen with real actors could be a treat…or it might go the other way. This trailer for The Last Airbender (2010) looks promising, showing all the aspects fans wanted to see translated in a live action adaptation. Erm, but just no…the movie hardly did it justice. We were very disappointed.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
We might be split into two camps about the full movie, but the trailer for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) is fantastic at orchestrating an arc of its own, pushing up the suspense yet without dropping any spoilers. It’s much more impactful than the film, which was more polished than the original but mostly just OK.
Battle: Los Angeles
Is this a war movie? Well, we get that impression from the trailer for this 2011 movie: Leaving home and loved ones, donning military gear, news reports, explosions…wait, what? Are those aliens? Yup, the slow transition and subtlety is fantastic in the trailer, a different vibe from the movie, which is jam-packed with action beats at every turn. Both are fun in their own right, but we kinda prefer the trailer, which is more artfully done.
The Dark Tower
Being one of author Stephen King’s most popular series, The Dark Tower (2017) has its heart in the right place, casting Idris Elba as the protagonist, Gunslinger. We’re all pumped after watching the trailer, which spins a tale of a sci-fi western, banking on the Gunslinger’s charisma in True Grit style (one of the most celebrated American Western films). Hmm, but it’s truly hard to cram all of King’s wonderful words and complex plot into a single movie, so the trailer teases well, but the movie is quite painfully thin.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
We’re kinda on the fence here about whether the movie trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) is better or if the actual movie rocks more. But we sure do like the Monsters and Men song, and how the trailer when strung together, hits like a Wes Anderson movie, even though it’s random snippets of a daydreaming executive doing things that we aren’t sure are real or from his imagination. But it certainly intrigues, while the movie could be slow-moving at some parts (but we still loved it).
This 2012 movie promised suspense and horror in its trailer, but never delivered. You have the swelling music, the gorgeous landscapes, ominously poetic lines, and an exciting discovery on the horizon. This builds up into a crescendo of doomsday events, prompting the viewer to watch the movie to find out just what the heck is going on and how it will end. Maybe the pacing of the movie (it’s 2 hours 4min long) can never match up to the rapid cuts and music that a trailer offers, but the audience is left so confused by the heavy mythology that all of the excitement goes up in smoke.
We’re gonna list the movie trailer of “2012” here on purpose because it seems to tie up with Prometheus. This movie was released in 2009, at a time when we all thought that the world could end just three years later. The entire trailer is basically one huge abstract question layered over an impressive rendering of what this end could look like. Looks fantastic on its own, and perhaps promises an end we never expected, or a twist…but the result is a typical template doomsday flick.
The movie trailer for Suicide Squad (2016) looks closer to the recent 2021 reboot, with its darkness and well-put together editing that ties it into a neat package. We still love looking at Harley Quinn though, with her bubblegum hair, mad smile and crazy eyes. Just wish that the movie six years ago could have been less of a jumble.
The New Mutants
This ambitious movie married two unlikely genres together, superhero and horror. We were drawn in by the trailer for The New Mutants (2020), hoping for the perfect union based on what was stitched together…but nah. The end result, though watchable, couldn’t balance the mix of genres well, and the horror element was horribly tame.
Friday the 13th
What’s scary about this scary movie is that the movie trailer for F13 (2009) looks and feels a lot scarier than the actual movie was. Period. Scare fans hoping for thrills and screams might be disappointed.
Batman & Robin
At this juncture, the movie trailer for Batman & Robin (1997) looks totally classic. But despite its dated looks, the short form version is such great fun that makes you want to watch the movie, stat! And we’d watch it just for the Freeze quote, just because… Unfortunately, the movie itself feels more ordinary, but as they say, “made you look!”.
You’ve got Ben Affleck, you’ve got a historical event. The trailer moves away from the disaster aspect and instead focuses on humanising what happened, slipping in some romance with a cut-and-tried love triangle. Good effort – the trailer tries to portray the 2001 film as something it is not (a disaster/war movie).
The Day After Tomorrow
Another disaster movie of a dystopian reality where everything is dead and snowed on. Interestingly, it’s a bit documentary style, with news-esque “footage” to show what the cause of the new harsh conditions was. It actually hits quite close to home, considering that reports of extreme weather and evacuation of people has happened, and will happen…and might only increase in intensity due to climate change. Fear-mongering at its best, yet also luring the viewer to find out the true aftermath, the day after tomorrow, of a cataclysmic event in this 2004 film.
When you have Zack Snyder, you have gorgeous visuals that’ll sell any movie — without much effort. It’s a pretty visual spectacle for any trailer, but kinda flat as a movie, which Sucker Punch (2011) was.
There’s no Arnie with his famous last words: “I’ll be back”, but there’s always the spectacle of seeing John Connor, who, from an impulsive kid, is now the leader of the human resistance fighting the machines, at a time when Skynet is king. For us now in 2022, the dark future of 2018 — now history — sounds hilarious while we’re fighting the unseen enemy called Covid-19. But we’ll give due credit that the trailer for this 2009 movie looks cool and exciting…something that the actual feature could only dully manage.
Were the movies themselves good, or did the movie trailers do them justice? You’ll be the judge!
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