Super Bowl 50’s Movie Trailers: The Winners And The Losers

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Paramount / Disney / Universal

As Super Bowls go, last night’s showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers was not exactly the stuff of legend. The low-scoring game didn’t quite deliver any of the electrifying moments or clutch plays for which the Super Bowl is known. The commercials didn’t fare too well, either. (I’m currently in the process of contacting other individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress after having been exposed to the surreal horrors of Puppymonkeybaby so that we may file a class-action suit against Mountain Dew.) But while advertisers floundered with their odd celebrations of post-Super Bowl child conception and piano-playing Jeff Goldblums, most of the movie trailers unveiled for the big event reminded the massive audience of the craft involved with advertising. If we learned anything from Mad Men — other than that adultery is fun, but sad — it’s that there’s a certain art to a good commercial spot. Below, we’ve separated the winners from the losers, the “Nineteen Eighty-Four“s from the “Cavemen“s, and even assigned them all superlatives. Though the Super Bowl comes but once a year, we can stoke the fires of the Hollywood hype machine all year long!

THE VICTORS

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Captain America: Civil War — Spine-Tinglingest Image In Any Trailer This Year
The unseen crowds yelling “UNITED! WE! STAND!” and “DIVIDED! WE! FALL!” don’t add a whole lot to the trailer, but that hardly matters. This trailer could’ve been five seconds long, for all I care. All it really needs is that final pair of shots posing Cap and Iron Man against one another, flanked by their allies, prepared for a hero-on-hero beatdown. The five-on-six lineup is a bit unfair for Iron Man, though I suppose having two state-of-the-art killer robots on your team must give you something of an edge. But this trailer knows its strengths, and serves them to the viewer on a silver platter. All that’s missing is the little clip of Ken Watanabe in Godzilla saying, “Let them fight.”

10 Cloverfield Lane — Most Effective Use Of Silence
This trailer for the J.J. Abrams-produced mystery project bookends itself with split-second audio cues that, as in the original Cloverfield, make the suggestion of horrors far more disturbing than horrors themselves. The whirling car crash, juxtaposed with the sudden silence and stillness of the studio logo, recreates the odd coexistence of danger and stasis in the bunker. And then, that final monster’s roar works as a marker of terrors to come. Abrams has always been a master of creating mystique, luring viewers in, and his ad team does it again with this spot.

Gods Of Egypt — Tried The Hardest
It’s not about who wins or loses, parents gently masking their disappointment at their children’s shortcomings have long said, it’s how you play the game. This month’s Gods of Egypt will most likely not “win” under any vector of entertainment industry measurement, whether that’s box-office dollars or critical notices. But man, does this trailer play the hell out of the game. Gerard Butler, attempting to re-attain his status as “the guy from 300” instead of “the guy from all those horrible movies he was in after 300,” demands to be worshiped and makes it rain for the first time in recorded human history. Plus: a giant snake-monster that can breathe fire, a sand-monster, flying metallic gods that might also be robots(?), and a battle so intense it shatters a shield into tiny little pieces. Pour me a stiff one and sign me up.

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