By Nicholas Vandeloecht
You know what’s rare? Seeing a movie without seeing the trailer first. Certainly, going into a great movie blind is the best feeling, because then everything’s a surprise, and Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road and Spotlight all were those kinds of surprises for me personally last year. But then it’s also a crapshoot. You have no idea if the movie you’re going to see will match your interests or be the kind of thing you like. Granted, you can see a trailer for a movie, too, and end up with the same result. But hey! Still fun to see a little bit of the future movies now, and trailers themselves can be thrilling to watch. They’re two-to-three minute visually-stunning bundles of joy that you can quickly check out on YouTube, and it can be fun to see how they mix their scenes with songs that obviously are not going to be in the film.
We’re in an era now where contemporary music and minimal dialogue have become selling points, and in the top 10 listed below, those choices do well in selling their products. Should you be nervous about lack of dialogue or story explanation? Absolutely you should! But a trailer handled with care, even if the movie isn’t, is respectable enough to warrant a watch of the film.
That said, see below the top 10 best trailers and teasers that I’ve seen to come out so far for the 2017 calendar year.
10. Wonder Woman (June 2, 2017)
Am I leery of this one? Given that it’s a D.C. property, you betcha! But with Gal Godot starring as one of the superhero universe’s favorite butt-kicking heroines, Wonder Woman could be the welcome surprise that rights a ship that began sinking once it set out to sail.
The visuals here aren’t mind-blowing, but still impressive. Wonder Woman kicks a lot of tail in a 300 sort of way, yet feels more down to Earth than the Superman and Green Lantern films. The trailer compared to the ones above it on this list sometimes plods a bit, and I get the feeling there won’t be a whole lot of action beyond the glimpses of scenes that we see here. But Wonder Woman here feels more realized than Superman, and while this movie still seems to have that gritty tone of the new D.C. movies, it feels a little more lighthearted than previous releases. I do have hope for this one, but I feel there’s another D.C. film coming this year that will be the actual turning point for the studio.
9. Split (January 20, 2017)
The latest film from M. Night Shyamalan, Split details the story of a man, played by James McAvoy (X-Men), who suffers from dissociative identity disorder and kidnaps three young women for a purpose we are expected to discover through the course of the film.
The trailer is creepy and punctuated by what I imagine is part of the movie’s original score or a piece designed specifically for this ad. McAvoy and Anya Taylor Joy (The VVitch, Morgan) showcase enough tidbits to hint at terrific performances, with the former being able to show off his full acting range through his 23 split personalities.
From the early buzz I’ve heard, this is supposed to be Shyamalan’s best film since Signs with an excellent twist. From the trailer I get the sense that it’ll be an expert mix of dread, mystery and Shyamalan-style humor, much in the vein of the short but brilliant NBC horror comedy Hannibal.
The best news is: we won’t have to wait long to confirm whether or not Shyamalan is back on the right path.
8. Kong: Skull Island (March 10, 2017)
There’s another trailer out there now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP0-9FBs2Rs) that tells and shows more of what’s on the island with King Kong and the explorers, but I like the one below a tad more because it leaves a little mystery in the cool way. Perhaps the trailer’s brooding, dread-inducing tone won’t match what looks to be more of a comical yet explosion-filled adventure, but the visuals are sweeping and memorable. We learn very little about Tom Hiddleston’s character and Samuel L. Jackson still appears to play a slightly altered version of himself, but John Goodman’s abbreviated performance holds promise, and the brief glimpses of Kong are menacing. I get the feeling there are quite a few disposable characters here, so it may be a “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” type adventure-thriller. John C. Reilly doesn’t make an appearance in here save for a shortened voice-over line that adds to the trailer’s chill factor. This could be a disposable adventure, but at least this trailer looks awesome.
7. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21, 2017)
Granted, it’s been a long, long time since my one-time watch of this director’s 1997 sci-flick The Fifth Element, but if I remember anything correctly, it’s that it was a hot, delicious mess. From this trailer, I definitely get vibes of that film, as well as of Guardians of the Galaxy. Valerian looks like a smorgasbord of scrumptious visuals and a potentially over-complicated yet fun space romp featuring two attractive young leads. The aliens here also give this film a potentially wonderful bright and comical edge. Undeniably my favorite part of this trailer is around the 32 second mark when Jabba the Hutt’s younger petite brother examines a gem-like object of some sort. I’m hoping for some practical effects in addition to the CGI here that I think looks gorgeous. I don’t know much about Dane DeHaan, but between this movie and A Cure for Wellness, 2017 looks to be a make-or-break year for the baby-faced 30-year-old actor. I’m weary of the story and acting, but I can eat me up some vivid visuals this summer for sure.
6. Justice League (November 17, 2017)
Here comes DC Comics’ answer to Marvel’s Avengers, and the visuals and gritty tone match that of Wonder Woman while also showcasing some action sequences mixed with Marvel-esque humor. The scene showing Batman meeting The Flash is both the best part of the trailer, yet is also the one that makes me the most nervous. It’s awesome seeing The Flash realize that the man attacking his is Batman while also showcasing his powers in a move to defend his life. At the same time, however, there’s that infamous pace-breaking moment near the end that has that impromptu feel of the Marvel films as well as of the Will Ferrell movies I’ve seen. The use of it – Flash explaining that he needs friends – also for some reason doesn’t completely land, but at least it holds the promise of more light-hearted scenes to come, even if they might fall flat like those starring Jared Leto’s “Whatdhesay???” Joker.
Oh wait, he’s supposedly in this one, too…
This could be another mess for DC, but given that Affleck did well as Batman and Gal Godot was strong as Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman, and the introductions of Flash and Aquaman looked great here in the trailer, there’s a lot of hope, particularly given its late-year release, that Justice League could shine as DC Comics’ beacon of better things to come.
5. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (March 24, 2017)
As with Skull Island, the early-spring release date for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur doesn’t look promising, but its trailer hits all the right notes. Here we should see how King Arthur draws sword from stone and a rather wild-looking adventure that follows.
It has a high-octane start, a snappy back-and-forth between characters and a Baz Luhrmann-like montage of Arthur’s street life, and then it layers what looks to be a dark and haunting adventure on top of a contemporary song choice, which seems to be becoming the style for movies and works well in the case of two other films that are higher up on this list.
I didn’t see Pacific Rim so I know little about Charlie Hunnam, who in this case plays King Arthur. Visuals are spliced together quickly and speeds up and slows down in all the right places. There seems to be a lot, and I mean a LOT of content jam-packed into this film. Usually when that’s the case, some cool-looking elements in the story get neglected overall, and of course the lack of dialogue in places for certain characters hints that maybe they don’t have anything interesting to say. But this movie still gives the appearance of a big epic, and regardless of the end result, I’m going to see it because they sold it to me with beautiful promises.
4. Logan (March 3, 2017)
Another early-year release date, so that’s not encouraging, but OH MY GOD THAT SONG CHOICE!!! Even with a cardboard-looking bad guy and some iffy line delivery by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in a car scene, when you line up your ad with Johnny Cash’s heartbreaking rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, you win the internet for days. Little is known except that Jackman’s Wolverine – or Logan – and Stewart’s Charles Xavier are trying to keep safe a young girl who is apparently a lot like Wolverine – I mean Logan.
It’s a film that looks way less like X-Men and more like The Last of Us with at least one violent scene that captures this new movie’s R-rating.
This trailer says a lot about its characters and the journey without having to use a whole lot of dialogue, and in this movie’s case, that’s a good thing. It does bother me that the bad guy here looks more pompous than menacing, and the song choice for the trailer is basically cheating, but the bright visuals of this gritty new world still say enough to warrant a must-watch.
Speaking of violence, this here is the international trailer.
3. Get Out (February 24, 2017)
Here comes a heap of chills you never knew.
Filled to the brim with haunting, gut-punching psychological thriller moments with super-heavy content given the renewed racial tensions over the last three years, Jordan Peele’s brightly shot horror film feels like a cult classic in the making. Framing the movie around the interracial relationship of a black man and a white woman is what I call a brilliant maneuver, given that it captures the unspoken fears of a lot of white males out there while also telling a story that appears to capture the fears of a black man trying to make his way in a white-dominated society.
Through the shocking scenes and depiction of black men and women who appear to be unwilling slaves of the family or neighborhood that the main couple visits, the trailer stunningly captures the feel of an allegory told in the best of ways to a stubborn audience that may best see the unseen plights through the lens of a horror movie.
2. A Cure for Wellness (February 17, 2017)
Here comes the rare exception of this list where you don’t fully grasp what is going on based solely on the trailer. The google synopsis says it’s about a young executive, played by Dane DeHaan, who goes to find his CEO at a wellness center only to discover all of these terrifying secrets about the place.
The scenes spliced together steadily come at you and reveal a wide world connected by this pervasive sense of uneasiness. Once again, cheating song choice works brilliantly here to show that this is supposed to be a creepy and darkly sexy film with reminders of The Lobster in how it seems to be in a contained location for troubled people, except with a sci-fi/horror edge. With a vide variety of scenes here, this is another movie, just like King Arthur, that looks too big to make sense, but the unspoken mysteries and reveals here are teased brilliantly from start to finish, and any well-executed movie dealing with mental illness is absolutely worthy of this time to place. Good or bad, A Cure for Wellness appears to be a delightful treat for fans of horror and psychological thrillers.
1. Cars 3 Teaser (June 16, 2017)
Stop looking at my words like that.
Come on, you’ve got to give credit here. Of all the teasers we’ve come to see, this is one of the most mind-blowing to come out over the last five years, and the family that the coming movie is part of has a lot to do with that.
The Cars franchise has been among Pixar’s lighter and goofier properties for the past decade, and it’s far from being the most well-received. Critics and fans understandably dislike that we’re getting a Cars 3 before an Incredibles II as the first Cars, I’ve heard, is okay but not Pixar’s best, and Cars 2 is the company’s black sheep.
Cars 3, on the other hand…
I’m a huge NASCAR fan, so I’ll get that out of the way. That said, the teaser for Cars 3 is the best animated film capture I’ve seen of what a NASCAR race would look like. The visuals and graphics in this trailer have been compared that of a racing game, even real-life. All of the cars’ faces are expertly hidden with Pixar’s fantastic use of overhead and nose-camera points of view. You get that sense of heart-pounding speed and fender-bending close-quarters racing. On top of it all, the teaser, even without the description, tells us what’s happening: Lightning McQueen is getting older and has fallen out of the limelight as newer, sleeker-looking racers have taken over the Piston Cup Circuit.
This follow-up premise especially works when you examine the tale of NASCAR. Great drivers come and go, often fading into obscurity as opposed to staying great forever. I feel McQueen’s story in Cars 3 is quite possibly a reflection of the rise and slow decline of Jeff Gordon, a future NASCAR Hall of Famer who came in and dominated the Winston Cup circuit in the 90s as a young non-Southerner before another driver by the name of Jimmie Johnson eclipsed his success and claimed Gordon’s title as the next best thing.
The ending of this trailer is also completely jaw-dropping, turning our expectations for this film on their heads as suddenly a movie we had no inclination to see has become a release that online critics are very curious about, if not pumped for.
Obviously we don’t know if this teaser is even in the movie, but if it captures the tone that Cars 3 is going for, then count me in.