The Seven Best Movie Trailers Of 2018 – Forbes
‘Avengers: Infinity War’Disney
It’s not quite time for me to start up my best/worst list, at least not in terms of theatrical features. After all, maybe Bumblebee, Aquaman, The Mule or Welcome to Marwen may turn out to be one of the best (or worst) movies of the year! But I can offer my thoughts on theatrical trailers released in 2018 for movies opened (or will open) this year. So, with the caveat that this will only apply to trailers that debuted in 2018 (sorry Avengers: Infinity War teaser) for movies playing in 2018 (sorry Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer), here are the seven best theatrical trailers for (at least somewhat) mainstream flicks in the year that’s about to end.
Avengers: Infinity War(trailer 02)
Okay, so the second trailer isn’t quite as “right in the feels” as that dynamite “there was an idea…” teaser. And the majority of it is merely a montage of hugely-scaled superhero action that shows off its “everyone into the pool” mentality. But as a piece of marketing, it still does a hell of a job succinctly establishing the core plot (a “new” bad guy named Thanos is looking for Infinity Stones so he can wipe out half of the universe’s population) in a way that makes the film relatively user-friendly even for those who haven’t kept up with their MCU education. Since our heroes don’t know who he is, it’s okay if the viewers don’t either.
Halloween (trailer 02)
I actually saw the Blumhouse sequel just before Universal/Comcast dropped their second trailer for the blockbuster revival. In some ways, this may be the worst trailer of the year, because A) it gives away the best scene in the movie (Michael walking from house to house and killing whomever happens to be around) and B) it actually shows nearly every single kill in the entire movie. Yet, divorced but that, it’s still a trailer that knows exactly what to sell (Jamie Lee Curtis taking action after Michael Myers escapes 40 years after the original rampage) in a way that succinctly details the franchise retcon while using the iconic John Carpenter score to get the blood pumping.
BlacKkKlansman (trailer 01)
We get the core premise (a young black rookie cop almost randomly decides to infiltrate the KKK) and the stakes (“the Klan is planning an attack”). We then get plenty of poignant exchanges (a brief bit from my favorite scene in the film, where Washington calls Driver out on his passive acceptance) and hearty laughs (“With the right white man, you can do anything.”). This energetic, exciting and unapologetically witty preview for Spike Lee’s energetic, exciting and unapologetically witty dramedy is a fine example of a terrific trailer accurately selling what’s great about a terrific movie in a way that makes the product look entirely crowd-pleasing without making it look lesser for the sake of general audience curiosity.
A Quiet Place(trailer 02)
This full-length trailer for Paramount/Viacom’s blockbuster horror flick is a textbook case in selling an original high-concept in a way that lays out the cards you need without giving away the game. We get just enough of an explanation of the premise (“if they hear you, they hunt you”) and just enough of a demonstration (through a spoiler-free excerpt from the film’s heartbreaking prologue) to get folks on the same page. We know the setting, we know the rules, we know the conflict and we know the stakes. We also know the gimmick beyond the gimmick (that most of this film will be dialogue-free), which in turn establishes that this will be a horror flick with no time-out moments.
Bohemian Rhapsody (trailer 01)
Folks online decried this teaser trailer for its failure to reference Freddie Mercury’s sexuality or his eventual AIDS diagnosis, which led to fears that the Bryan Singer-directed biopic would be straight-washing the bisexual rock god. But this tease was selling a toe-tapping, head-banging musical spectacular that allowed audiences to see Queen’s musical triumphs played out on the big screen. This is why I occasionally pay to see big movies on opening day just to watch the trailers on an IMAX or PLF screen. It wasn’t until I saw this trailer in IMAX that I knew this one was going to be big. It may be problematic on a laptop, but it’s a champion on a big screen.
A Star Is Born
Warner Bros. cut such a soaring initial tease for Bradley Cooper’s romantic drama/musical remake that we never got a second trailer. The stirring use of the two buzziest songs (“Maybe It’s Time” and “Shallow”) sells the film’s magical first act as a complete narrative. Yes, there are plenty of bits and pieces from the latter half of the film, but the teaser construction sets up the initial courtship between Jackson (Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) as a standalone romance for the age, one which climaxes with the film’s centerpiece sequence. Sure, the rest of the movie can’t quite live up to that scene (which may be partially the point).
The teaser showcases a good film at its best while existing as a heartbreaking piece of stand-alone art. I wish they hadn’t released a bunch of key sequences in the lead-up to release, but it’s not my money at stake and it clearly did the job. However, this initial teaser trailer successfully established the R-rated, adult-skewing romance as a true-blue event movie. It also, yet again, highlighted the core strengths of Warner Bros.’ marketing department, namely their ability to sell adult movies like Magic Mike and American Sniper like glorified blockbuster event flicks. It launched a thousand memes, a few satires and a deluge of pre-festival buzz.
Mission: Impossible -Fallout (trailer 01)
The trailers for GoldenEye and the first Mission: Impossible essentially reinvented the modern action movie trailer back in the day. While this Super Bowl Sunday trailer didn’t reinvent the wheel, it is a perfect balance of marketing and stand-alone art. We get just enough in the way of plot (Hunt fails a mission to save his teammates), stakes (Sean Harris is still around and is promising a major reckoning) and character introductions (including a reunion with Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust in a way that reassures fans that she won’t be a love interest) and continuity (Henry Cavill’s monologue about how the IMF turns on their star pupil in nearly every installment) to get the job done.
All of this is set to a pulsating Imagine Dragons song entitled “Friction” which eventually gives way into a third-act montage filled with brutal fisticuffs, car chases, motorcycle stunts, an occasional gun battle and plenty of wacky Tom Cruise stunts, including a clever reversal of the first film’s action finale. The trailer ends with a montage of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt failing spectacularly in a manner which would make Will E. Coyote or Jackie Chan proud. It’s the core dichotomy of the recent entries: Ethan Hunt is a Mary Sue, err, the living manifestation of destiny (and essentially an autobiographical role for its star), but sometimes he’ll miss the jump by *that* much.
It is a gloriously entertaining bit of movie marketing and a rewatchable piece of stand-alone art. Amid the buzzy Cloverfield Paradox reveal and the Solo: A Star Wars Story commercial that debuted on Super Bowl Sunday, the dynamite Fallout trailer planted a flag in the sand as a true event movie even sans conventional superheroes or otherworldly spectacle. It’s a perfect cocktail of varied action thrills, teases of character and story and a mix of franchise nostalgia and it was a big reason why the well-reviewed and well-received sequel became Tom Cruise’s biggest global grosser of all time. For sheer showmanship, the first Mission: Impossible – Fallout trailer was the best preview of the year.
I tried to keep this contained to trailers for movies that people actually saw in theaters, but all three trailers for If Beale Street Could Talk (opening next Friday) successfully sell the hybrid of romance and devastation that makes Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel into an unmitigated artistic triumph. And as good as the trailer may have been, at the end of the day Suspiria made less than $3 million in theaters. I love that 1980’s throwback trailer for Upgrade, but to my knowledge, it never played in theaters.
There were plenty of very good trailers for very good movies (Creed II, Widows, Hereditary, the various Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trailers), and a few (Deadpool 2 and Aquaman) that played better on a laptop than in theaters. And while all three main Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald trailers were so good that they gave me false hope about the quality of the movie, it’s hard to argue that they worked in light of the film’s disappointing opening weekend. But otherwise, that’s a wrap on this specific portion of the year-end rundown.
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