8 Bad Trailers That Misrepresent Their Finished Films


Some previews are not accurate representations of the quality of their movies; they try hard to explain the basics of the plot, but doesn’t really accomplish much besides showing some random images and blaring a tune in the background. 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 trailers of many films.

Such trailers present the respective movie as a boring, standard piece of shlock, rather than the smart, subversive thriller or drama they are. For this list, we’re looking at generally well-received or successful movies that had pre-release trailers that gravely represented the finished films.

Hellboy (2004)

Instead choosing to focus on John Myers, played by Rupert Evans, the first trailer only features short glimpses of Ron Perlman’s benevolent demon. This, juxtaposed with a focus on conceptions like the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, make the movie seem like a lame “Men in Black” rip-off. Thankfully, the trailer didn’t stop people from experiencing the weird gothic wonder and action of Guillermo del Toro’s film.

The Abyss (1989)

The trailer-clip elucidated next to nothing about the film except the underwater setting. This was an epic sci-fi adventure showcasing state of the art effects for the time (and it was slightly overlooked in 1989.) Such a thing happened because of the first trailer, which had all the excitement of staring at a cheap aquarium display for almost a minute and a half.

Braveheart (1995)

Not the best way to present an epic that eventually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. What we’re already seeing onscreen: clips that make the film look silly and corny and 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.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The trailer makes “The Cabin in the Woods” look like an unremarkable, generic slasher film from the ‘70s, and this Joss Whedon horror romp is so creative and outlandish that we’re actually glad the trailer with its horror cliché boxes like the titular cabin and the characters splitting up, doesn’t spoil the film’s many twists.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

In the trailer we come across a deep, which is somewhat a 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 light-sabers 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. 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.

Gattaca (1997)

Cheesy voiceover work reigns supreme here, leaving almost no room for the plot and actors to shine through. “There is no gene for the human spirit.” This is the TAG line of the movie Gattaca, a film that searches deep within the heart of man. 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.

Strange Days (1995)

Though we were able to get our first look at Ralph Fiennes’ amazing hair, 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 a flashy but completely confusing piece of marketing.

Minority Report (2002)

This Tom Cruise-starring, Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick story deals with determinism vs. freewill, 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 sufficiently conveyed, and the way the acts are cut makes it seem very disjointed.

Trailers from the Golden Age of Hollywood were often like this, but some actually go out of its way to misrepresent the film. The parts of the plot that manage to get out from such trailers are complicated and messy to boot, which sometimes don’t persuade audiences to go and see the finished films in theaters.

Honourable mentions:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Rear Window (1954)

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

Kick-Ass (2010)

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