Great Movie Trailers of the 21st Century

Happy 100th Blog Post to us!!!  We’ve been kicking and screaming movie cinema for over five years (although with some huge gaps), and we’re hoping to deliver another hundred before we call it quits.  So for today, I thought I would do a little something special, for your reading/viewing pleasure.

Movie previews have been around for years and years, and while we take them for granted sometimes, we can’t help but remember that they are often the reason why we are sitting our butts in a crowded movie theater, anxiously anticipating what we came to see on the big screen.  Some times they’re built up, some times they are toned down…there is a level of artistry and editors’ care built into the tight couple of minutes that we see flashed on screen.  Theatrical and teaser trailers have come a long way in recent years, and I thought we would look at a handful of them.  While there are plenty of retro ones that we all get a chuckle and grin from, I thought we would widdle down the list to focusing on trailers advertised in the 21st Century.  Sound good?  When you think of some greats that we looked over, be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

While not in ranking order, here are some of my personal favorites:


Okay, so I’m starting out with a big mixed-reaction movie.  But both sides of the crowd can agree, this teaser was able to pay homage to the original Alien movie while get you excited about the prequel.  While I personally think the movie wasn’t half-bad, it was unable to live up to the hype surrender its previews.  Hopefully the sequel, Alien: Covenant will deliver everything we need next summer.


This is a good example of the “formula drama”.  The last few years have followed a similar outline as Clint Eastwood’s movie trailer, which is to showcase the leads, a struggle, application to do right, and the hopeful lead to the (sometimes uplifting) climax.  I remember watching this in 2009 and getting excited, hearing the energetic chanting in the background, and seeing Morgan Freeman in his dream role.


This is a conflicting entry for me.  Before the movie was announced, anyone who had read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s masterpiece knew it was an unfilmmable story.  It just couldn’t be done.  Well, down the road it was inevitably made and led by Zack Snyder.  The skeptics, however, were more than likely taken aback by this visually stunning trailer.  That’s the defense I will give: visually stunning.  While Snyder weaknesses cannot be measured in a teaser, his strengths certainly show.  It is enough of a tease to show that the filmmakers approached adapting the comic as loyally as possible.  It conveys the darkness, the atmosphere, and strongly hints at a different kind of superhero movie.  I just don’t think we were ready for it.  Ever.  Certainly not by a filmmaker who wanted to recreate the comic shot-for-shot.  But regardless of all of that mumbo-jumbo, I still get excited for Watchmen when I rewatch this.


Changin’ it up in ‘ere.  So, this is a hipster movie.  You probably didn’t know anything about it–and still probably don’t have any clue where it’ll be goin’–but you’re intrigued.  It shows a couple strong actors, shows a slightly futuristic world that we can relate to, and delivers a sweet song on a ukulele.  It looks sweet, manipulative, original, romantic, dramatic, organic…just to name some of the few emotions that creep up and down your spine while watching this trailer.


If you’ve read reviews of movie previews before, you more than likely have come across this gem.  The trailer successfully captivates you instantly with the visual epic of space, and continues to pan (in the same shot) to the astronauts just before everything turns against them.  Most of Gravity‘s previews and promos showed very little footage of the movie, primarily concentrating on the first adrenaline-building fifteen minutes.  I’d say it was the perfect hook to get our butts in the theaters.

Les Miserables.

While there was noteworthy hype surrounding this musical, I think the thrill, excitement, and apprehension of the original Broadway musical’s fandom went relatively unnoticed.  I had just finished performing a stage play version of Les Mis when the trailer was released, and I was ecstatic.  The world looked so big, the visuals so spectacular, and the actors so dedicated–especially Anne Hathaway.  The trailer teased her harrowing portrayal of an exceptionally grave character, and her song outlined the despair, hope, and love the movie was promising to deliver come Christmas 2012.  One of my favs.

X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Ahh…this’s a good one.  The fans of the X-Men series (like myself) heard the announcement that Bryan Singer was returning to the franchise to helm the adaption of one of the best segments in the original comics, and we were enormously excited!  There were hints from the producers over the course of filming, several photo tweets from Singer, and some promotional behind the scenes jargon to keep us motivated till May 2014.  Then, at long last, it appeared.  Personally, I think the trailer captures the gravitas of transcending the old generation with the new.  It was already proving itself capable of molding the worlds together and desperately wanting the chance to deliver an epic, loyally heartfelt interpretation of the comic book.  The Sunshine, Thin Red Line, and Inception soundtrack did a swell job at knotting my heartstrings together.  This trailer made me determine that I was going to love this movie, even before I saw it half a dozen times.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

It goes without saying, but millions and millions of people were waiting impatiently for this.  I thought it was a good inclusion on this list mainly for the hype surrounding the trailer itself!  The internet was exploding after the first teaser was released over a year before the movie went worldwide.  Then Spring 2015 delivered another teaser (this one a bit longer), with the most jaw-dropping, nostalgia-flooding, tear-jerking last three seconds of a movie preview can give you (I’m talking about: “Chewie…we’re home”).  For the rest of the summer, J.J. Abrams made it clear that there was going to be only one more theatrical trailer (released in the fall), and the world waited in earnest. Now, while I thoroughly enjoyed the first two teasers, I personally thought the third one was the “best-made” of the lot.  But this leaves us with big question this year and into the next: When will the trailer for Episode VIII drop?!?  Well, regardless of that intensifying question, this trailer ranked up nearly 100 million views on YouTube.

The Dark Knight.

You knew this was coming, didn’t ya?  The trailer to defeat all trailers.  Now, as much as I really wanted to include other Nolan movie trailers (i.e., Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), I thought I’d include the one almost everybody can agree on.  Aside from the hype of this movie, Hollywood was been building and grafting its action-packed movie promos around this trailer.  You’ve probably noticed it.  This particular one showcases the buildup, the menacing Joker, the higher stakes, and the realistic action that was in Batman Begins times ten!…nearly all the things that would get us excited for the return of the Dark Knight.  This trailer will stand the test of time, that much we can be sure of.  And we gotta give a hand to Christopher Nolan and whoever cuts his trailers.  They do a great job at bringing back the strong style of yesteryear…

So while I could have gone on and on with this listing, I thought it would be prudent to keep it contained.  Now that we live in a time of fan-made trailers, “honest trailers”, TV promos, posters…nothing can beat the 2+ minute big-screen preview of what’s coming to a theater near you…

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January 2016 Update: This blog is under reconstruction. Please be patient while we gradually remove old material, posts, and pages, and create new ones. Thank you.
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