Year in Review: The Best and Worst Movie Trailers of 2011
(Photos: Warner Bros. Pictures, Relativity Media, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures)
It's not easy distilling a two-hour movie into a two-minute trailer. It takes just the right balance between showing off the film's best qualities without giving away too much. Do it right, and you can hear a cinema audience buzz with anticipation. But a bad preview will guarantee they'll stay home opening weekend.
Here's our list of the five best and five worst trailers of the year. We're only including trailers for films released in 2011, so it doesn't include the great previews for next year's movies like "The Avengers," "Snow White and the Huntsman," and "Paranorman."
The "Harry Potter" series has been the most successful franchise in movie history, so it had to go out with a bang. The trailer for the final film starts with flashes back to the previous movies stretching back over a decade, then gives glimpses of the epic final battle. It all adds up to a trailer that's not only exciting but surprisingly emotional.
WORST: HAPPY FEET TWO
The first "Happy Feet" won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, so selling a sequel should've been easy. But this trailer is an incomprehensible mishmash of random scenes clumsily cut together with no sense of story. Supposedly dramatic moments have no meaning, comedic bits aren't funny at all, and the music is a absurd mix of pop songs ranging from "Mama Said Knock You Out" to "Popa-Oom-Mow-Mow."
One sign of a very effective trailer: by the end you're rooting for the human beings to lose. After Tim Burton's disappointing attempt to revamp "Planet of the Apes," this new origin story seemed like a big gamble, especially since all of the apes would be completely digital creations. But the trailer showed that not only was Andy Serkis's performance as the chimpanzee leader Caesar totally believable, but authentically touching.
Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison was responsible for some terrible trailers this year: "Just Go With It," "The Zookeeper" and "Jack and Jill." But nothing could have been worse than "Bucky Larson." Nick Swardson plays the title character who comes off as so annoying in this preview it's hard to believe anyone would want to spend another 95 minutes watching him.
This trailer starts off by very slickly laying out the basics of the story: Ryan Gosling plays a movie stunt driver by day and criminal by night. We see the basic set-up for the plot and the action scenes. But halfway through, the electronic music is replaced by a slow, orchestral piece that serves as a counterpoint to the harsh violence we see on screen. It tells you quite clearly that this isn't going to be your standard action flick (though a woman in Michigan did file a lawsuit against the studio claiming the trailer was misleading).
WORST: THE DOUBLE