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Top 10 Good Movies With Bad Trailers

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Noah Levy We're lucky that these previews weren't accurate representations of the quality of their movies. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Good Movies With Bad Trailers. For this list, we're looking at generally well-received or successful movies that had pre-release trailers that either badly represented the finished films or were just poorly put together previews of them. Special thanks to our users Tevin Jackson and Aaron Marcucci for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Noah Levy

Top 10 Good Movies With Bad Trailers



We're lucky that these previews weren't accurate representations of the quality of their movies. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Good Movies With Bad Trailers.

For this list, we’re looking at generally well-received or successful movies that had pre-release trailers that either badly represented the finished films or were just poorly put together previews of them.

#10: “Strange Days” (1995)

Before Kathryn Bigelow was winning Academy Awards, she was a cult phenomenon making films like this gritty sci-fi thriller starring Ralph Fiennes. Unfortunately, the movie’s premise, involving conspiracies and futuristic mind devices, proved to be a little too dense for an almost 3-minute trailer. What resulted was this flashy but completely confusing piece of marketing. It tries to explain the basics of the plot, but doesn’t really accomplish much besides showing some random images and blaring a techno tune in the background. Well, at least we were able to get our first look at Ralph Fiennes’ amazing hair.

#9: “Braveheart” (1995)

Trailers in the ‘90s relied on tried and true tropes, specifically voiceover work and montages of big scenes. Of course, these devices could be used the wrong way, as evidenced in the trailer for this epic historical drama. In it, a glimpse of the life of Scottish warrior William Wallace is given an extra helping of cheese with a voiceover that hammers home what we’re already seeing onscreen: clips that make the film look silly and corny. Not the best way to present an epic that eventually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

#8: “Hellboy” (2004)

So, we get that Guillermo del Toro may be off-putting and weird to some people, but did whoever cut this trailer really have to sideline the title character of the movie? The first trailer only features short glimpses of Ron Perlman’s benevolent demon, instead choosing to focus on John Myers, played by Rupert Evans. This, combined with a focus on concepts like the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, make the movie seem like a lame “Men in Black” rip-off. Thankfully, that didn’t stop people from experiencing the weird gothic wonder and action of del Toro’s film.

#7: “The Abyss” (1989)

After James Cameron hit it out of the park with his two previous feature films, expectations were high for this directorial effort. An epic sci-fi adventure showcasing state of the art effects for the time, it was somewhat overlooked in 1989. We’ve come to believe that was because of the first trailer, which had all the excitement of staring at a cheap aquarium display for almost a minute and a half. The clip explains next to nothing about the film apart from the underwater setting, and definitely could have benefitted from the addition of scenes showing “The Abyss”’ heart pounding action.

#6: “The Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

This Joss Whedon horror romp is so creative and outlandish that we’re actually glad the trailer doesn’t spoil the film’s many twists. Unfortunately, the safe nature of the trailer does have its drawbacks. By trying to hide the big reveals, the trailer makes “The Cabin in the Woods” look like a generic, unremarkable slasher film from the ‘70s, and there’s no way that would fly in 2012. Checking off most horror cliché boxes like the titular cabin and the characters splitting up, the trailer presents the movie as a boring, standard piece of shlock, rather than the smart, subversive thriller it is.

#5: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Considering how bizarre they are, the films written by Charlie Kaufman usually get decent representation in their trailers. Not this 2004 film, for which Kaufman won an Academy Award. It begins promisingly with a fake infomercial, but changes into something more traditional. The way the clips are cut along and the trailer’s choice of music makes “Eternal Sunshine” look like a fast-paced by-the-numbers rom-com. In reality, it’s anything but. Yeah, it is about a relationship, but you probably won’t find a romance darker, smarter, or weirder than this one. It’s a real shame that the trailer misrepresents that.

#4: “Minority Report” (2002)

Once again, we come across an instance of too much plot, too little time. This Steven Spielberg-directed, Tom Cruise-starring adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick story deals with freewill vs. determinism, while also managing to be a heart-pounding action movie. Unfortunately, the trailer focuses on the latter half of the equation, and not very well, might we add. The major plot points aren’t adequately conveyed, and the way the action is cut makes it seem very disjointed and cheap looking. Luckily it didn’t stop the film from being one of the best offerings from both director and star.

#3: “Rear Window” (1954)

It may be one of the greatest suspense thrillers of all time, but you wouldn’t know that from this trailer. In fact, it advertises Hitchcock’s masterpiece as some sort of bland romance, where James Stewart’s window watching is treated as a subplot instead of the main concept. It doesn’t help that it features voiceover explaining everything Stewart is looking at. For example, who’s that woman down there? Oh, got it. Thanks, disembodied voice. Trailers from the Golden Age of Hollywood were often like this, but this one seems to go out of its way to misrepresent the film.

#2: “Gattaca” (1997)

Speaking of complicated plots; try fitting themes of eugenics, destiny, and Ethan Hawke into a two-and-a-half minute timespan. Andrew Niccol’s underrated sci-fi film is a wonder when you actually take the time to watch it, but it doesn’t work well when condensed for the limits of a trailer. Cheesy voiceover work reigns supreme here, leaving almost no room for the plot and actors to shine through. The parts of the plot that manage to get out are complicated and messy to boot, which probably didn’t persuade audiences to go and see it in theaters.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a couple honorable mentions:
-“Bridge to Terabithia” (2007)
-“Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)
- "Kick-Ass" (2010)

#1: “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)

It has been well documented that 20th Century Fox didn’t really believe in George Lucas’s “science movie,” and that lack of faith shines through in the first teaser for the film. There’s just so much to marvel at. There’s the deep, somewhat threatening voiceover and the stock music that shows what a contribution John Williams made to the finished product. Plus there are unfinished effects shots that showcase colorless lightsabers and blasters that don’t actually shoot anything. Oh, and a lack of almost anything story related. It’s pretty much a miracle that the film became the success that it did.

Do you agree with our list? What good movies do you think had bad trailers? For more good top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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