Jaw-Dropping Modern Movie Trailers

mila kunis in jupiter ascending movie

The manner in which we view movie trailers has changed a lot since the advent of the Internet. A long time ago, in a galaxy not far, far away, because it’s actually this one, audiences were exposed to the latest adverts for films during the preview section of the program. Today, we watch them online as soon as they’re released by PR companies.

Trailers, especially those for blockbusters, are there to help stoke excitement and great expectations among the public. The very best trailers have a certain amount of artistic value, as they play around with ways of communicating their film’s unique selling points.

Top: Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones in the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending.”
JJ Abrams made his directorial debut with the third entry in the Tom Cruise action series.

Mission: Impossible III

I was momentarily confused by the presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman, issuing threats to an unseen figure, in what then turned out to be first trailer for “Mission: Impossible III.” (I hadn’t read that he was in the film.) This is an exceptionally done promo because it teases with a villainous character played by a great actor. A rapid montage of high-octane scenes follow, complete with that famous theme tune.

Amy Adams auditioned to play Lois Lane. She finally bagged the role in 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Superman Returns

The “Superman Returns” teaser might be one of the most emotional and beautifully put together of the modern era. Marlon Brando, in voiceover, as Jor-El, telling his superhero son to help guide the world towards goodness, and John Williams’ iconic score, combine to make my spine tingle every time. This might be the best teaser trailer of all time.

Writer Alan Moore refused to have anything to do with the screen adaptation.

Watchmen

Considered the greatest graphic novel ever penned and inked, director Zack Snyder produced a highly faithful adaptation. The ending was changed, but everybody was cool with that (because it wouldn’t have worked at all). The trailer is definitely aimed at the fans and like a coded message: “Don’t worry, nerds! We’ve been respectful to the source material and you’re going to LOVE it.” And they did.

Although set in Los Angeles, much of the filming took place in Louisiana.

Battle: Los Angeles

Here is a classic example of an impressive trailer for a terrible movie. Part of the effectiveness was the haunting electro-pop song by Icelandic tunesmith, Jóhann Jóhannsson. “Battle: Lost Angeles” looks like the best actioner since forever, yeah? Unfortunately, the script was written in crayon by a bored 10-year-old because his Playstation was broken.




The xenomorph murals and temple location were designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger.

Prometheus

There was a point at which anticipation for “Prometheus” threatened to break the Internet. And then it arrived: the first proper look at Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi horror. The title—using the same font as “Alien”—appeared on screen very slowly, and there are visual references thrown in to the beloved xenomorph creature, without properly confirming its presence. Clever stuff.

Cinematographer Wally Pfister wished to shoot the whole movie using IMAX cameras. In the end, 72 mins of the 167 mins running time featured IMAX footage.

The Dark Knight Rises

The final trailer for the final Batman film (by Christopher Nolan) emphasized the size and scope of the action, showed off Tom Hardy’s badass villain, Bane, and highlighted the emotional dilemma Bruce Wayne faces when trying to save Gotham City once and for all. Hans Zimmer’s thunderous score added to the wow factor.

Colin Firth was originally cast as Uncle Charlie but dropped out. Matthew Goode replaced him.

Stoker

South Korean filmmaker, Park Chan-wook, made his English-language debut with “Stoker.” The use of quick fade-to-blacks, the voice-over (by Nicole Kidman), and rapid cutting delivered the required levels of mystery, as well as show off the beautiful cinematography. It’s an invitation aimed at cinephiles, for them to get very excited that this director is to deliver a new masterpiece.

Filming took place in British Columbia, with temperatures hitting -40°C.

The Grey

We’ve learned from “Battle: Lost Angeles” that trailers can be deceptive, right? But what happens when they’re deceptive in a positive way? Joe Carnahan’s “The Grey” was pitched to the world as “Liam Neeson punching wolves, in Alaska.” Seen in its proper context, the film is much more than that. It’s a brilliant existential saga, and it gave Liam Neeson his best role in years.

Jupiter Ascending is the first film to be shot in 3D by the Wachowskis.

Jupiter Ascending

“Jupiter Ascending” could turn out to be the best sci-fi movie of 2015. Yes, even with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on the horizon. The Wachowskis know a thing or two about science-fiction adventure flicks, after all, and “Jupiter Ascending” looks absolutely spectacular. Watch the trailer! See Channing Tatum wearing pixie ears! Wacky.

Shooting took place in Namibia, Africa after locations in Australia were hit by adverse weather conditions.

Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s been nearly thirty years since Mad Max was last seen in the post-apocalyptic Aussie outback, fighting off Aunty Entity and her biker goons from Bartertown. Fans couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing, when the Comic-Con trailer for “Mad Max: Fury Road” landed during the summer. Breathtaking, intense, utterly spectacular—and that’s just the promo clip. Those stunts! How on earth did they make this without anybody being killed?

All videos © respective film studios
Martyn Conterio

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Martyn is based in London, England and writes about movies. He has had work published by Little White Lies, The Guardian, Total Film, Grolsch Film Works, Rue Morgue and other quality publications and websites. He is the author of a monograph on Mario Bava's classic horror film, "Black Sunday." An avid soccer fan, he supports... Follow the author @ Twitter and view more articles.

November 27, 2014 Cinema Special Feature