There was a time when some people – the “not sports” people – would only watch the Super Bowl for the advertisements. But thanks to the internet all these folks can take that Sunday off, every year. All you have to do is wait for the trailers to premiere online, and watch them at your leisure.
But let’s be honest here: it’s still a lot of trailers, and not all of them are any good. That’s why every year we take a hard look at the Super Bowl trailers and pit them against each other in a ranked cage match, or something like that. (We’re “not sports” people.) Which trailers blew our minds? Which trailers CHANGED our minds? And which trailers will we put out of our minds altogether as soon as we’re done with this article?
You’re about to find out. Here are all the Super Bowl movie trailers, good and bad, ranked from worst to best.
11. LIFE (March 24, 2017)
There’s nothing terribly wrong with this preview for Life, or with the full-length trailer it encourages us to watch online (included here for posterity). But there’s nothing terribly interesting about it either. It’s a story about scientists coming into contact with an alien organism and getting menaced by it, and aside from the creature design (or lack thereof) there’s nothing in these previews to distinguish this film from Alien, The Thing or any other film about basically the same thing. We’re hoping the film has some surprises up its sleeve, because right now the advertising campaign makes it look awfully familiar, and that doesn’t stand out against the Super Bowl advertising crowd.
10. BAYWATCH (May 26, 2017)
The 30-second preview for Baywatch, an intentional comedy based on the (mostly) unintentionally funny lifeguard television series, mostly rehashes jokes from the film’s pre-existing, longer theatrical trailer. Points for putting Zac Efron in an American flag speedo though. That’s patriotism.
9. A CURE FOR WELLNESS (February 17, 2017)
Gore Verbinski’s upcoming horror thriller apparently warranted two Super Bowl spots. One of those spots was great (we’ll get to it eventually), and the other is… okay. It’s a standard collection of creepy imagery from a horror movie set in a health clinic. Gore Verbinski is an impressive visual stylist but there’s nothing setting this particular preview apart from other films of its ilk. The second preview though… again, we’ll get to that. Soon.
8. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (February 10, 2017)
20th Century Fox had quite a bit of success last year when it promoted the action-comedy Deadpool as a Valentine’s Day release. They’re up to some similar tricks with these two Super Bowl spots for the action sequel John Wick: Chapter 2, trying to trick audiences into thinking they’re watching a Fifty Shades Darker preview in the first spot, and simply amping up the sexiness in the second. It’s a cute gag but, unlike Deadpool (which actually was a weird romance), John Wick: Chapter 2 comes across like it’s making fun of romance movies, which probably won’t build up much of a crossover audience between the genres. So yeah, again, it’s kind of a cute gag, but it just doesn’t have the same effect.
7. LOGAN (March 3, 2017)
A short and moody preview for Logan features very little plot, and a lot of shots we’ve seen in earlier previews, but our best look yet at Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and X-23 (Dafne Keen) in action, flipping around and stabbing a bunch of goons who, we assume, are not nice people. The marketing push for this film is nearing completion, audiences are already aware of it, and this quick preview of Logan does the job it needs to do: it doesn’t let all the other movies take the spotlight just one month before its release date.
6. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (May 26, 2017)
The once-mighty Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, now long adrift at sea, makes an impressive comeback with a Super Bowl preview that offers gorgeous eye candy, and little of the dopey humor, overblown hero worship and unnecessarily complicated storylines that nearly sank the series. The question now is whether Johnny Depp – after a string of box office failures and, more importantly, a tarnished personal reputation – is going to drive audiences away from the films he transformed into blockbusters. Time will tell, but for now, in a vacuum, this preview might just be visually interesting enough to raise a few eyebrows, and get the fans interested once again. Maybe.
5. GHOST IN THE SHELL (March 30, 2017)
Explaining the highfalutin plot of Ghost in the Shell might be a bit tricky in a short Super Bowl spot, so this particular preview focuses on some of the upcoming film’s obvious strengths. Namely, Scarlett Johansson (who has become one of our leading action heroes) and a cavalcade of spectacular images. Few other films on the horizon look as spectacular, visually, as Ghost in the Shell. If the story turns out to be as good as the original, and if the whitewashing we’re all worried about isn’t a problem once we see all the context, we might all be in for a real treat.
4. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (June 23, 2017)
The trailer for the latest Transformers movie tries, once again, to make the story of product placements punching each other into grim, serious business. But whether that excites you or bores you, we can all agree that Michael Bay has an eye for the epic, and that this extended Super Bowl preview is full of impressive eye candy, guaranteeing that audiences who think of motion pictures as a thrill ride will plunk down their hard-earned money on opening day. This is a great advertisement for a movie that, despite all this publicity, doesn’t technically look all that great.
3. A CURE FOR WELLNESS (February 17, 2017)
One of the biggest surprises of the night was this other, dastardly little ad for A Cure for Wellness, that upcoming horror film about the sinister goings-on at a health clinic. This preview cleverly adopts the format of a prescription medication commercial, except the typical utopian imagery gradually becomes disturbing as the list of side effects gradually becomes terrifying. Films that are coming out within a month of the Super Bowl don’t usually have such eye-catching previews because, again, the marketing campaign has already been doing its job. The folks promoting A Cure for Wellness took this one last chance to make a great impression, and they succeeded. This preview was an inspired bit of advertising.
2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (May 5, 2017)
One of the most unexpectedly popular movies of the last decade is back with a sequel that, in this extended preview, had to prove to audiences that it wasn’t a one-hit wonder. It does a pretty good job, reviving the old school soundtrack, snarky characters and slightly dickish humor (“I tried, guys…”) while throwing in impressive new imagery and unusual new characters. There’s still not much in the way of plot, but in terms of action and attitude, this Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 preview delivered.
1. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (April 14, 2017)
The preview for the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious franchise packs a whole lot of punch in just sixty short seconds, telling us what the film is about (Dominic Toretto going rogue), why that’s awesome (because Jason Statham has to join the good guys to stop him), and what sort of insane car stunts they’ve put in the film this time (submarine chases, vehicles falling out of buildings en masse). Make no mistake, The Fate of the Furious looks fucking sweet.
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Top Photo: Marvel Studios
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved, Rapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.