We are ONE WEEK away from Avengers: Endgame! And we’re still marveling at how little those trailers have given away…
Sure, theories abound. And word on the street is that there are a LOT of spoilers already out there if you go looking. (Full disclosure: We haven’t looked for them, and we recommend you don’t either. COME ON!) That said, it’s quite a feat how much Marvel have kept in the dark about this final chapter in the first long MCU saga, and it got us to thinking about how many trailers we’ve loved over the years that have done a bang-up job of hooking the audience without really giving away the actual plot of the film. (Far too many trailers just give too much away for the sake of it!)
Please enjoy this week’s Friday Five of some of the best trailers for films that have kept their secrets close to their chests…
I mean, where do we start with this one? The 2008 found footage-style kaiju monster mash produced by JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot production house infamously kept everything, including its title, secret until the very last minute. (Even going with just its release date – 1/18/08 – as the “title” on promotional material for a long time.) When that trailer finally hit, we see just enough to wonder “what the actual hell?!” including, most memorably, that shot of the Statue of Liberty’s head being chucked down a Manhattan street like a bowling ball… and yet, the most of the plot remains a mystery. (Indeed, most of the movie’s footage, too; this is just one reel of the film, summarized.)
Leonardo DiCaprio is a super-special type of specialist. His field of expertise is dreams… or, stealing them, to put a finer point on it. That is literally all that the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s 2010 masterpiece gives you about its plot… outside of, oh yeah, a handful of the completely dazzling visuals contained therein to get you on the hook. The nuts and bolts of it – why DiCaprio and his team are on their mission, not to mention the emotional heft of his character’s motives and back story – are completely left to be discovered when you sit down to watch the movie. (And proceed to get that braaaaaaaum! sound effect in your head for days. There’s even a website for that.)
Mad Max: Fury Road
By the time director George Miller finally returned to the outback of Mad Max’s post-apocalyptic world, it had been a loooong time coming; this movie was in development for years. We knew Tom Hardy was in for Mel Gibson, we knew Charlize Theron was also along for the ride, and that was about it. The main thing that the trailer gives away plot-wise – “everything is dependent on oil” – isn’t something that was new, based on previous films in the franchise. What he does here is proceed to blow our socks off with the insane set pieces that arguably made this the best of the Mad Max films to date, and leaves the really heavy stuff for you to find out once you’ve purchased a ticket.
The year was 1999, and we can agree that even after seeing this trailer, most of us had no idea what we were in for. The Matrix is more or less the benchmark for blockbusters that blew the roof off the cinemas with very little insight into what the film was actually about ahead of time. Yet, oh so much moxie in its presentation of the groundbreaking special FX and intricate world-building that was in store for audiences. In retrospect, it’s delightful to see how many of the really big reveals are in this trailer, but cut into such rapid-fire edits that you don’t really know what it is you’re seeing without context. Amazing.
Just one year before The Matrix hit theatres, Alex Proyas’s cyberpunk-meets-film-noir cult favorite was released. It was not as big of a hit, nor as critically acclaimed. (Though it did have its champions; rest in peace, Roger Ebert!) Looking back on it, Dark City is in many ways just as masterful as The Wachowski’s landmark film in that it weaves a mystery into a man-on-the-run adventure, then into a completely-blow-your-mind twist that pays off in wonderful ways. And what’s brilliant about this particular trailer is, it’s full of the dazzling visuals… but it holds back even more than any trailer that we’ve ever seen. There isn’t even any dialogue! It’s JUST the images, a bangin’ music track, and some enticing title cards that barely hint at the plot. Now that’s chutzpah.