Cocaine Bear, Max Max, Cloud Atlas and the quest to find the best movie trailer ever

There is plenty of ursine around in Cocaine Bear’s trailer. (Universal)

What makes a good trailer these days?

Must it contain a glacially paced cover of an annoyingly popular song? Does it need a drum effect every time a character loads a gun or throws a punch?

Or can it dispense with such modern clichés and just focus on a bear coked out of its brain flying through the air in pursuit of an ambulance?

Poor Cocaine Bear.

The second I finished watching that trailer, I thought, “No way the actual film is gonna live up to that.”

But who hasn’t thought that after watching a trailer?

Perhaps not the woman who sued the distributors of the 2011 Nicolas Winding Refn vehicle Drive, claiming its thrill-a-second promo was a complete mis-sell of the finished and largely car chase-less movie, in which Ryan Gosling probably uttered the same amount of dialogue as he did in the trailer.

I have long considered launching my own legal action at the director and star’s follow-up, Only God Forgives, through which I was hoodwinked into a miserable cinema experience by one of the best trailers in living memory.

The success of that trailer was founded on two things: Gosling doing his best primary school kid impression at the end of it (“Wanna fight?”) and its soundtrack, namely the song ‘2020’ by Canadian band Suuns.

That song popped up again more recently in the trailer for Three Thousands Years Of Longing, directed by George Miller, a filmmaker who knows all about the impact of a good trailer.

The appetite for a fourth Mad Max movie was hardly huge, but that all changed when the teaser trailer for Fury Road dropped towards the end of 2014. This Verdi-backed, carnage-fuelled magnificence went a long way to enticing audiences into the theatre, something described in great detail in Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, by Kyle Buchanan, which is well worth a read.

I still can’t decide if the trailer is even better than the film itself.

Which reminds me of my favourite video sketch from The Onion, in which it reported on how the studio behind the celebrated trailer for 2008’s Iron Man made the controversial decision to expand the two-minute promo into a feature-length movie.

The major critique launched at modern movie trailers, apart from those overdone punches/drums effect combos (thanks a lot, Suicide Squad), is that they show too much.

So why is one of the best trailers ever made almost six minutes long?

I’m talking about the extended trailer for Cloud Atlas, the 2012 sci-fi epic directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, which manages the seemingly impossible feat of showing everything while telling nothing.

It’s a remarkable trailer, all five minutes and 41 seconds of it, and has the power to flick those tear duct switches, usually just as Outro by M83 (who is, I kid you not, a friend of Ross McD’s) kicks in towards the end, which is astonishing in itself given the song has been used in just about every single thing ever.

Those are some of my favourites, but what are yours? What do you think is the greatest movie trailer of all time?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: