A good trailer can be worth its weight in gold to a studio, and it can also be more trouble than you might expect. Just ask Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, who according to industry reports was sidelined during editing of the poorly-reviewed supervillain smackdown in favour of a cut made by the company behind the film’s high-octane, Queen and The Sweet-soundtracked promos.
These days audiences are getting a bit more savvy to the trick: ‘Suicide Squad’ is expected to suffer a radical second-weekend dropoff, much like its DC expanded universe predecessor ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. But studios will still do their best to pull the wool over our eyes if they can. Here are the some of the deeply average movies for which Hollywood went out of their way to hoodwink you with ultra-snazzy trailers.
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The trailer pitch: A sinister, swampy intro, specifically recalling the famous space saga’s previous best instalment, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. A wonderfully sage Yoda quote: “Fear is the path to the dark side … fear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering,” which is perhaps the only memorable line from the diminutive Jedi master to stand alongside his best moments from the original trilogy. Samuel Jackson! Lightsabers! Darth Maul! Podracing! And only the briefest of looks at Jar Jar Binks’ clownish antics.
The reality: ‘The Phantom Menace’ will go down as one of the biggest Star Wars misfires in history, the very mention of its name a blood curdling warning to audiences that a formerly great artist, in this case saga creator George Lucas, is perfectly capable of torpedoing their own legacy. That bumbling space moron Binks emerged as the movie’s best-remembered character, for all the wrong reasons, says pretty much everything you need to know.
The trailer pitch: This movie will reveal the dark secrets of mankind’s origins, while somehow tying into Ridley Scott’s original ‘Alien’ film. We’re going to find out who the space jockeys were, and perhaps even how the xenomorphs were created. What’s more, the whole thing’s going to be scarier than the contents of a Russian athlete’s medicine cupboard.
The reality: Someone should have warned us this movie was written by Damon ‘Lost’ Lindelof, the screenwriting doyen of rabbit holes that lead to nowhere and exciting plot twists that are never explained. We did not find out who the space jockeys were, why David the android has gone all Colonel Kurtz on us, or anything else very much for that matter. But don’t worry, all will be revealed in upcoming sequel ‘Alien: Covenant’. At least it better be, or there are going to be riots at your local multiplex.
The trailer pitch: Giant robot samurais! Fire-breathing dragons! Hot chicks kicking ass with guns and katanas! Imagine every cool video game you ever played brought to life on the big screen … this could be the next ‘Matrix’!
The reality: ‘Sucker Punch’ director Zack Snyder is a maestro of visually splendid promos, but should never be allowed to write his own screenplays. Sucker Punch’s "nuthouse full of beautiful women” setup felt pretty grubby, and the plot really was just a series of video game-style action sequences with little to knit it together. More ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ then.
The trailer pitch: Operatic comic-book silliness in the company of the most colourful bunch of crazy supervillains ever seen on the big screen. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ for grown-ups. ‘Deadpool’ squared.
Jared Leto’s Joker will thrill you with his method-inspired nuttiness as the new clown prince of Gotham. Margot Robbie’s Harley Queen is a vicious little scream queen, part angel, part harpy. And Will Smith is back to his pre-After Earth best as the sharp-shooting Deadshot.
The reality: The performances aren’t the problem with ‘Suicide Squad’. So let’s blame the confused plotting and the reports that most of Leto’s performance got left on the cutting room floor, along with a lot of other bits that might have made the movie make some sort of sense. Oh and Cara Delevingne, for accepting a role as villain-in-chief The Enchantress that simply seems to have been beyond her.
The trailer pitch: You will finally get to see the dystopian desolation wrought on mankind by the machine oppressor, post Judgment Day. And this movie has Christian Bale, fresh from starring as Batman in ‘The Dark Knight’, as human resistance leader John Connor, one of science fiction’s greatest ever big screen icons. Forget Arnie, James Cameron and Linda Hamilton: this is the future of the Terminator franchise.
The reality: This movie is also directed by McG, whose habit of winding up Bale on set led the Welsh born actor to turn in a performance of burlesque scenery-chewing not seen on the big screen since Jon Voight’s famous leer in ‘Anaconda’. There are explosions, cool robot motorbikes and lots of Bale shouting, but the movie utterly failed to capture the blue collar sci-fi brilliance of Cameron’s early films, 1984’s ‘Terminator’ or 1991’s ‘T2: Judgment Day’. McG also ended up wheeling out Schwarzenegger in any case, or at least the Austrian oak’s youthful likeness, for a terrible denouement featuring a clunky conveyor belt of seemingless endless CGI T-800s.