Early Lead: 9 Super Bowl Teasers Better Than the Movies They Advertised
There is, of course, an art to constructing the perfect Super Bowl movie trailer, and the best of these expensive, bite-sized advertisements are arguably even better than the movies themselves. Below, we’ve singled out nine Super Bowl teasers more exciting, effective, or satisfying than the films they tease.
- •Independence Day (1996)It’s not that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s ridiculously successful summer blockbuster is bad, per se; it’s just that, at 145 minutes, it’s needlessly overstuffed. Which is what makes the movie’s legendary Super Bowl ad such a surprisingly elegant encapsulation of Independence Day’s still-lasting appeal: No drama, no wacky Judd Hirsch character bits, just pure, destructive premise.
- •Super 8 (2011)Protecting plot details with the diligence of the film’s military bad guys, J.J. Abrams’ team cherry picks some of his most striking imagery and leans heavily on Michael Giacchino’s note-perfect imitation of a throwback John Williams score. It’s a master class in stoking anticipation.
- •Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)The Super Bowl teaser for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me opens on a very Death Star-looking scene, feinting toward all things Sith before Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil swivels around to reveal the gag. “If you see only one movie this summer, see Star Wars,” the announcer intones before making the pitch for the Austin Powers sequel. It’s the rare movie ad that acknowledges the existence of other motion pictures. If only the movie itself could have been so clever.
- •The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (2003)The Super Bowl teaser is still thrilling to watch, even when you know the films amount to nearly four-and-a-half hours of quasi-spiritual claptrap that no amount of bullet time shots can salvage.
- •Swordfish (2001)The film announced its cutting-edge techno-action spectacle via a Super Bowl spot featuring Travolta performing a mini-monologue announcing the “lack of realism” in Hollywood movies, and promising something “not within the realm of conventional cinema.” Travolta’s soul-patched baddie was fully incorrect. Swordfish is very conventional Hollywood cinema circa 2001; the Super Bowl spot has a winking sense of mystery the movie itself sorely lacks.
- •Tomorrowland (2015)Brad Bird’s misbegotten Disney opus Tomorrowland had no trouble filling out a 30-second Super Bowl spot; the movie has enough shiny retro-futuristic imagery to fill at least half a dozen enticing full trailers. As it turns out, the movie also has almost too much in common with its ads: It spends most of its running time promising and promising and promising, tantalizing the audience with interesting ideas and eye-filling sights, only to peter out with a prolonged whimper.
- •Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)Beginning with a thrilling switch from black-and-white Academy ratio to full-color widescreen, the film’s Super Bowl spot is nothing but whirligig spectacle and uncut nostalgia. What the lighting-quick ad doesn’t include is much of James Franco’s phoned-in lead performance, the Shrek-grade humor, or the tired origin-story plot beats—in short, everything that made this Wizard Of Oz prequel more chore than delight.
- •The Mummy Returns (2001)In the ad, The Rock moments flash by too fast to linger on any of the lamentably poor computer animation that fails to bring the Scorpion King’s confrontation with Brendan Fraser to life during the movie’s overstuffed climax. That’s true for much of The Mummy Returns, which features wildly erratic effects work to accompany its wildly erratic everything else. The sequel’s strategy—it’s like The Mummy, but bigger and louder—is less exhausting in a 30-second dose than a 130-minute one.
- •Iron Man 3 (2013)Whoever cut the Super Bowl spot was smart enough to recognize a centerpiece sequence when they saw one and to build a brief but exciting teaser out of that one spectacular moment. It’s striking, it’s suspenseful, and it does what all movie trailers, regardless of length, should ideally do: It gets viewers pumped for the film in question without spoiling any crucial plot points.