The movie trailer has always been one of my favorite parts of the movie-going experience. The lights dim as you’re munching away on your popcorn and before your film begins, you’re given tiny glimpses into your cinematic future. Now, while these trailers may seem insignificant, they’re actually quite important. It’s the job of the trailer to entice us to make another trip to the movie theatre and dole out our hard earned cash.
What’s even more amazing is the complexity of the trailer itself, because while editing a trailer together may seem like an easy enough feat; it actually takes a large amount of talent and finesse to find the sweet spot between showing too much or too little. So, below you’ll find my top ten list of movie trailers (in no particular order) that I believe are just as epic and even as artistic as the movies themselves.
I dare each of you to watch the trailers below and not feel that instant rush of nostalgia. Go ahead, I double dog dare you.
Ridley Scott’s Alien is a classic film; there’s no denying that. His film beautifully mixed horror with science fiction and produced its scares through a less is more approach. Like the film, the trailer shows very little. It begins with close up shots of the alien egg and as a crack begins to move across the egg, we’re given fragments of the film. These shots accompanied by a shrill whine are enough to give anyone goose bumps.
The trailer for The Shining is another perfect example of teasing audiences. It begins with a fixed shot on the famous elevators from the film and some of the most unsettling music ever composed. As the credits scroll across the screen and the music grows in intensity, you can’t help but feel uneasy and nervous as you wait for something to happen. And then it does. The elevator door slide open and release a wave of blood into the lobby.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a perfect example of near flawless filmmaking and after going back and re-watching the trailers, picking The Two Towers, as the best trailer of the three was hard. The reason for this trailer standing above the rest is music choice. Requiem for a Dream is a beautiful and haunting piece of music and it perfectly compliments the dark tone of the film. That’s the reason that this trailer is a step above the rest.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Okay, so there may be some backlash for this choice, but before the tar and feathers come out, just think back to a time before actually seeing Shia swing through the jungles with monkeys. Indiana Jones is one of the most beloved characters in all of cinema and while Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is arguably the worst entry in the quadrilogy, the trailer is by far the best. It had been nearly twenty years since Indy last whipped (pun intended) the Nazis’ butts and to finally hear Ford’s narration was enough to make all fanboys foam at the mouth. Indy 4 may have been a huge stinker, but the trailer was so damn good, no one could have resisted handing over their hard-earned money.
Pulp Fiction is another fantastic example of how to pull off an effective trailer. There’s no doubting that Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino’s crowning achievement and rejuvenate the careers of Bruce Willis and John Travolta. Like the Two Towers trailer, Pulp Fiction is a perfect marriage of footage and music. Tarantino is one of the few kings of Hollywood and knows how to entertain the masses.
While superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, prior to 2002 they were far and few between and nowhere near the scale that Spider-Man was. This trailer quickly introduces the main characters before exploding into high-octane action. What’s even more fantastic is the hilarious little quip at the end of the trailer when Aunt May tells Peter that he isn’t Superman. This jab was the perfect way to leave the audiences with a smile on their faces.
The Dark Knight
This pick is pretty much a no brainer. Christopher Nolan brilliantly re-imagined Batman in Batman Begins and while people were excited about the sequel, no one could’ve ever guessed the awesomeness that was The Dark Knight. This trailer was also the first time that audiences were given a glimpse of the Joker in action. For almost a year before the release of The Dark Knight the Internet was ablaze with criticism of Ledger’s casting. Everyone scoffed at the idea of the ‘pretty boy’ playing the prince of crime and there’s no doubt that he blew everyone away. I dare you to watch this trailer more than once, because I know you can’t do it. You just can’t.
Alan Moore’s Watchmen is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time, and with good reason. For years people have tried to bring the book to the big screen and every time the film couldn’t get off the ground. That is until a young visionary director named Zack Snyder appeared to do what others only dreamed of…or so we all thought. A lot of fanboys are divided down the middle when it comes to this movie. Unfortunately, while the movie didn’t live up to the hype, the trailer made us all believe. The Smashing Pumpkins playing in the background while we’re teased with shots of the film combined with those fateful words from Rorschach kindled a fire in all of our nerdy hearts. So much so, that every time I watch the trailer, I nearly forget the train wreck that was the film.
The original King Kong was a concept way ahead of its time and after all of these years, it was primed for a remake. Luckily Peter Jackson was up to the challenge. The movie itself was pretty good, albeit slow in parts, but the trailer was big enough to really coax moviegoers into theaters. We’re given plenty of action to tantalize, while also getting a peek at one of the most iconic scenes in movie history.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
When Disney decided to make of movie out of a theme park ride, people laughed. Of course one colossal hit and three sequels later, who’s laughing now? My reasoning for picking At Worlds End over the other entries is because everything is done so much better. We’re given just enough action to really wet our whistles and given a few sprinkles of humor. The music is as epic as it can be and the cherry on top is the clip of Jack and Davy Jones battling to the death. No other trailer was nearly as exciting as At Worlds End.
I’d love to hear what your favorite movie trailers are. Comment below and let me know what your thoughts are on my picks and what changes you would make.