Top 11 Trailers
August 05th, 2014
(A shortened version of the opening. Nostalgia Critic is holding the script for his Top 11)
NC: (sighs in relief) Done! The Top 11 greatest movie trailers.
(Suddenly, NC notices a tab that says "Videos by WatchMojo.com". He clenches his teeth in fear and slowly clicks on it. Video starts playing)
Announcer: This is WatchMojo's Top 10 Movie Trailers.
NC: D'OHHHH! Damn you, WatchMojo! And your ingenious setup! You've done everything from the Top 10 Brian Gleeson films to the Top 10 lists of Top 10 lists of Top 10 lists! (rubs his forehead in frustration) Fuck it!
(He goes to sit at the table)
NC: Okay. As a lot of you know, WatchMojo recently released a Top 10 best film trailers. They're very well put together and a good list, you should check it out. But, as a lot of you also know, there's no one book that says what you can and cannot review, especially if someone else has done it already. Except for that one passage in the Bible...
(A fake excerpt from the Bible that says "No reviewing what thy neighbor has already reviewed, especially goes for Nostalgia Critic" is briefly shown)
NC (vo): ...but I think Luca was drunk. Bottom line, there's a lot of different ways to look at the same subject. And none of the trailers that WatchMojo listed are here on this list- (a caption "One of Them Is" appears below) Okay, ONE is on this list, and... Yeah, when you see it, you'll understand why. With that said, why do we love film trailers so much?
(Clips from various movie trailers, like "The Lord of the Rings", "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", "Sin City 2", "The Wolverine", and "The Expendables 3", are shown)
NC (vo): Is it simply because it's hyping up a movie? In some respects. But in many others, it gives you an experience, a mere couple of minutes of excitement that promises even more when you see the movie. Hell, half the time, the trailers are better than the movie. And if a movie fails in entertaining you, you still gotta give credit to the trailer that got you there in the first place. We owe a lot of our moviegoing experiences to trailers, and it's time to celebrate their editing, their style, and their ability to suck us into an event so much that we tell ourselves there's no way that we can miss it.
NC: And we're here to acknowledge the Top 11 of them here today. Why Top 11? Because I like to go one step beyond. So, sit back and enjoy the Top 11 Best Film Trailers!
(Dramatic trailer-like music plays while we see the captions with the background explosions)
Coming this SUMMER
Marketing manipulation AT ITS BEST
The Top 11 BEST FILM TRAILERS
(For each interlude, we see a number zooming in with explosions in the background)
NC (vo): Number 11 -- "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End". While obviously not the best pirate movie, this trailer knew what it had to look like. After a big hit film and an even bigger hit film with the dangling cliffhanger, the ending of the Pirates trilogy had to look epic and huge, with a little comedy thrown in.
Jack Sparrow: Did no one come to save me just because they missed me?
[Dead silence; Jack the monkey raises its paw, Jack glances at it]
NC (vo): It looked like the end-all of end-alls, building up the death of an era in one glorious uniting of the rebels.
Hector Barbossa (offscreen): The Pirate Lords from the four corners of the Earth must stand together. [onscreen] There's not been a gatherin' like this in our lifetime.
Jack Sparrow: And I owe them all money.
NC (vo): It's a giant war of outcasts going up against the mad, as well as arch-enemies duking it out, somehow timed perfectly to the music.
["Dark Empire 2.0" by X-Ray Dog Music plays as Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones are swordfighting]
NC (vo): There was tons of people in it, new characters we haven't seen before, the ultimate climax to such a strange trilogy we were suddenly getting sucked into. And what did this giant war amount to in the end? [beat] Two ships circling around in the whirlpool.
NC: [after a long pause, deadpan] And there was much rejoicing. [we hear flat cheering from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"]
NC (vo): Bottom line, we still had to see the movie based on a trailer this epic. And though it was hated by many, it still brought in the box office numbers. So I'd say this trailer was a definite hit.
Lord Cutler Beckett: You're mad!
Jack Sparrow: If I wasn't, this would probably never work. [Fires the cannon which pulls the rope hard enough to catapult him]
[We are treated to a very EPIC chain of smash cuts and then, finally, to the title]
NC (vo): Number 10 -- "A Serious Man" and "Little Children". I put these two together because they both do something very similar: Build tension in such a bizarre and unique way, so bizarre and unique that you have to check out the movie to see what the hell's going to happen in it. In "Little Children", we just hear the sound of a train passing by as our main characters talk. Nothing too bad, right?
[As various scenes in Little Children play, we hear the sound of a train whistle]
May McGorvey: I thought we could make something really beautiful.
Girl: Something for my mommy?
[The train whistle is heard again, a bit louder]
NC (vo): But as the conversations get more uncomfortable, you start to notice that train getting louder and louder.
Kathy Adamson: Refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.
[The train whistle is heard again, a bit louder than the last one]
NC (vo): As it gets closer and closer and louder and louder, you suddenly realize you're not watching a train go by, you're watching it about to hit you. [The train is heard passing by, getting louder as it goes, before we hear a crash sound] I don't know how they did it, but suddenly, the sound of a train has become the most intense, terrifying thing I've ever heard.
[More scenes are shown as the train gets even more louder and louder. The loudness eventually causes NC to become scared]
NC: ALL RIGHT! I GET IT! I'LL NEVER TAKE THE TRAINS AGAIN! I'LL DRIVE TO WORK!
[We then move onto the A Serious Man trailer]
NC (vo): "A Serious Man" is similar, except with a little bit more of a comedic edge. It opens with the main character getting repeatedly smashed against a chalkboard. Always a good intro. [The aforementioned scene is shown] But it keeps going throughout the trailer, making a bit of a musical beat.
[Various scenes are shown, with the thumping heard throughout]
Judith: I think it's time that we start talking about a divorce.
Man: Larry, we're going to be fine.
NC (vo): Other awkward elements start to be repeated, too, like a car crash, an irritating cough, and a voice saying, "We're going to be fine". All of this being played over him asking another person for help.
[As the aforementioned scenes are repeated, we see more shots of the trailer]
Larry: I've tried to be a serious man. I tried to do right, be a member of the community.
NC (vo): Soon you start to realize this horrifying repetition is actually the soundtrack of this person's life, and it'll continue to grow until he gets urgent attention. Thus, once it looks like he'll actually get it...
[Larry is looking at a female secretary closing the door on a rabbi inside an office]
Secretary: The rabbi is busy.
Larry: He didn't look busy!
NC (vo): I don't know about you, but I'm seeing both of these very fucked-up movies. If not, I won't be able to sleep tonight.
[The trailer of Little Children with the loud train plays again, causing NC to scream]
NC (vo): Number 9 -- "Jurassic Park". We all know the Spielberg classic nowadays, and we all know what the dinosaurs look like, what they do, all that good stuff. But back then, the only knowledge we had of "Jurassic Park" was the book, and CGI was not well-known by most people. So logically, it would make sense to show the dinosaurs in all their glory to get people in the seats, right? Nope. Spielberg was so excited about how good his effects look that he actually decided to keep it a surprise. Oh, we got a glimpse here or there just to know the dinosaurs are in it, but most of the trailer is just people looking at the dinosaurs, without actually showing them. But, hell, they look so blown away at what they were seeing that, obviously, we had to see it, too. And it made sense. People would run off and tell everybody, "Oh, my God! The dinosaurs, they looked incredible!", that you'd have to go and see it for yourself.
Dr. John Hammond: We have made living biological attractions so astounding that they have captured the imagination of the entire planet.
NC (vo): There's something almost like a little kid in this. You got something really huge to show everybody, effects so good that most of them still hold up even by today's standards. But instead of showing them off, you just build up the mystery even more. [The trailer of Godzilla is shown] The 1998 "Godzilla" would try something similar, but that was like a bad carnival freak show, where you're promised something amazing, but the actual result sucks. That, and dialogue like this didn't help.
Nick (from Godzilla): That's a lot of fish.
NC: Uh-huh. "Jurassic Park" sums up your movie in a better line.
Ian Malcolm: That is one big pile of shit.
NC: Suck it.
NC (vo): This was one of the few times where the tease was so great that you swore nothing could live up to it, but sure enough, it did. It knew just what to show and just what to not show, and it was confident enough to know that you wouldn't be disappointed.
Nick Tate (vo): An adventure 65 million years in the making. [The title is shown] Jurassic Park.
NC (vo): Number 8.
[A very bizarre spaceship is shown and we hear heavy breathing]
NC (vo): I'm not even gonna name this one. I think you can all guess what it is.
Don LaFontaine (vo): Years ago, a battle was fought. And an Empire was destroyed. Now, the saga will continue.
[During this narration, we see someone bald sitting on a chair. The person turns around and it's none other than...]
Dr. Evil: [petting his cat] You were expecting someone else? [laughs maniacally]
NC (vo): Yep. The same year "The Phantom Menace" was being hyped up, Austin Powers' sequel, "The Spy Who Shagged Me", surprised us with this hilarious fake-out.
Austin Powers: Yeah, baby!
NC (vo): The interesting thing is, the first "Austin Powers" was not a hit film, but its rental life was proving to be very strong. And truth be told, if you watched "The Spy Who Shagged Me" again, it's really not as good as you remember it.
[A clip from the movie is shown]
Fat Bastard: Let me make you a deal, all right? You get the mojo, you keep the money, and I'll get your baby. [Smacks his lips, causing Dr. Evil to be weirded out]
Dr. Evil: Riiight.
NC (vo): Yeah, dig that awkward silence. The reason I mention this is because I honestly think, while the cult following of the first film helped, the advertising is what helped make it a big hit. I think people were laughing so hard at this and so happy just to see these characters again that no matter what you showed them, they probably would've been happy. How can you not get excited for a film that openly tells you that seeing it should not be your #1 priority?
Don LaFontaine (vo): If you see only one movie this summer, see Star Wars. But if you see two movies, see... [The title is shown] Austin Powers.
NC (vo): Nothing much else to say. It delivered just the right punch at the right time.
Don LaFontaine (vo): The Spy Who Shagged Me.
[We cut back to Dr. Evil, whose chair is spinning around]
Dr. Evil: Hello? Help me with the chair, please. All I wanted was a frickin' rotating chair. Throw me a bone here, people.
NC (vo): Number 7 -- "Planet of the Apes". Yes, the Tim Burton "Planet of the Apes". Why is this one on the list? Well, we all know it's a piece of crap. And even when we heard the idea, we thought it was going to be a piece of crap, too. But, by God, the trailer actually managed to fool us. It didn't look anything like the original, but we didn't care. It was totally owning the idea of being some sort of intense war movie about man vs. beast, and it looked surprisingly badass. [Various action sequences are shown, with dramatic, intense music playing throughout] You could argue this was the first film, or at least the first trailer, that opened people up to the idea of a re-imagining rather than a remake. We knew this wouldn't be as good as the original, but they were hyping us up for something that looked pretty gritty and fun. Think about that. A remake of "Planet of the Apes", not a prequel, but a remake was getting us excited.
General Thade: Declare martial law.
Tival: The story is spreading through the villages. They all want to see this human who defies the apes.
Colonel Attar: Form divisions! Full battle ready!
NC (vo): If a film trailer can get us riled up over something this obviously stupid, it's doing something right. Now don't get me wrong. It's not the movie we got. All the cool badass action and war movie cries were replaced by... [Cut to a scene where a female monkey prepares to have sex with a gorilla] awkward monkey sex.
NC: [disgusted] Sold?
NC (vo): But the movie did a good job tricking us into thinking this was gonna be something awesome. Nice going there, trailer. You could sell us on anything.
General Thade: Kill them all!
[The title is shown]
NC (vo): Number 6 -- "The Dark Knight Rises". Now, while most people remember "The Dark Knight" and its trailer, it's "The Dark Knight Rises" that had the harder sell. Your last film had an incredible performance by a now-dead actor who won an Oscar for it and is being hailed as, well, the comic book movie to change all comic book movies. How the hell do you top something like that? Well, this film makes it almost look like it's going to. Where the last film seemed like a battle on the streets, this seemed like an all-out war. [Various action sequences are shown as a chant is heard, while captions are shown saying, "The Epic Conclusion" and "To The Dark Knight Legend"] Landmarks blowing up, buildings being torn apart, crowds chanting of an uprising, it looked massive. [The camera rises up to the top of several buildings shaped like a bat before fading to white] All "The Dark Knight" trailer had to do really was show Heath Ledger as the Joker, and the film would just sell itself. Not that it's not a good trailer, but that's basically all it had to do. Here, they had to convince us that something even better was on the horizon, and they kind of did.
Selina Kyle: You're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.
NC (vo): Consider, for example, the introduction of Bane. Comic book fans certainly know him, but most mainstream viewers are more familiar with, say, the Penguin or the Riddler. But they did a good job not only introducing him, but making him look intimidating.
Bane: When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.
NC (vo): Of course, that's before we knew he was somebody else's bitch, like most great villains.
[A clip from the film is shown]
Bane: I am here to fulfill Ra's al Ghul's destiny!
NC: Yeah. Wouldn't the Joker have been much more terrifying if he said... [Mimics the Joker] "I'm doing this for the Scarecrow!"
NC (vo): Oh, well. I make no secret that I thought this film sucked hard, but the trailer had great build-up, great intensity, and great delivery of a massive, massive film. And give them a few more points for not having Batman talk in it either.
Batman: [In the film] You were excommunicated by a gang of psychopaths.
NC (vo): Will that ever get better with time?
[The title is shown]
NC (vo): Number 5 -- "Spider-Man". Now, I'm not talking about the trailer that was played over and over, I'm talking about the teaser trailer that was sadly pulled after the events of 9/11. It starts off with this high-tech robbery going on. No text, no announcer, no nothing.
[In the trailer, a group of robbers invade a bank]
Robber #1: Get your head down! Get your head down! It'll all be over in about 30 seconds.
[The robbers open the safe, grab the money inside, and run outside to the rooftops to get in their helicopter]
Robber #2: Like stealing candy from a baby!
NC (vo): Just when it looks like they're gonna get away with it, they get caught, but by who or what?
[The helicopter is suddenly dragged by an invisible force, before eventually stopping. The camera pulls back to reveal that the helicopter is caught on a large web spun between the towers of the World Trade Center]
NC (vo): When this played in the theater, the audience roared. Everybody knew what that meant and they were excited as hell. True, we didn't see much of Spidey in the trailer, but it was a teaser, and it left us with one of the most memorable images that you could leave on. Now, sadly, because of 9/11, the trailer was yanked, as well as this nice poster that had the World Trade Center in it. But folks that saw this on the big screen knew how great this payoff was. It got everybody excited for the superhero we've waited years and years to finally see on the big screen.
[We cut to Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire]
Peter Parker: I hunch.
NC (vo): Well...the trailer was still good. It had the element of surprise, the element of imagination, it was just great. If you weren't hyped by Spider-Man before that, you certainly were after.
[The title is shown, before showing Spider-Man swinging towards the camera]
NC (vo): Number 4 -- "Independence Day".
[The trailer for Cloverfield is briefly shown]
NC (vo): I was gonna put "Cloverfield" here, but I tried to think back to who really did the "destroying a landmark" thing the biggest and the best. [The trailer for Independence Day is now shown] And that was definitely "Independence Day". It knew exactly what people wanted to see and it threw nothing else at them, because it didn't need anything else. You didn't know what the story was, who was in it, what it was about, all you knew was the fucking White House got blowed up. Now keep in mind, this is before CG explosions were seen all over the goddamn place, and giant landmarks being eradicated was common. [Posters of "2012" and "White House Down" are shown] It was also before these guys got a fetish for destroying the White House because, well, they had nothing else to offer. But back then, nobody had ever seen this. It was kind of jarring. [The White House is shown getting blown up, before revealing the title] And that's all it needed. We were gonna see that movie no matter what. With "Cloverfield", we've seen a lot of found footage films and a lot of monster movies, and not showing the title was a clever touch, or the monster for that matter, but this was a big scale visual that would stay in our minds forever. It's the fucking mic drop of disaster films.
[The White House blowing up is shown again as NC drops a microphone]
NC (vo): Number 3 -- "Alien". Yes, this is the one that WatchMojo also put on their list, and for a very good reason. "Alien" is probably the scariest trailer you can ever muster up. It starts off with what looks like a series of symbols, but then you realize it's spelling out the title of the film. "Alien"? Come on. We've seen a ton of those in movies, right? But the trailer lets the idea sink in, the idea of the unknown and not being sure of what it can do. It doesn't rely on screams, jump scares or any of that bullshit you seen in modern day scary trailers. The audio is just a racing heartbeat and a siren. [Those mentioned sounds are heard in the trailer] It builds faster and faster as it, once again, never shows the monster, but instead lets the atmosphere and suspense build. It's just so creepy in its simplicity. Movies before and after have really desensitized the ideas of unknown creatures from another world, but this trailer really emphasizes how frightening the unknown can be. What is it? What does it look like? How do you kill it? Can you kill it? What will it do to you? All these terrifying questions are raised simply by letting us feel like we're in this uncomfortable position. There's only one tagline at the very end and it's as perfect as a tagline can get. [The tagline is shown as "In space, no one can hear you scream"] It's creepy, atmospheric, and keeps you on the edge of your seat, all in the matter of just a few minutes. Do yourself a favor and don't watch it in the dark.
[The trailer shows a quick montage of scary images before showing the title and its tagline]
NC (vo): Number 2 -- "Titanic". Yes, say what you want about the movie, but love it or hate it, this is one of the most massive trailers ever. This trailer does everything to show that director James Cameron is 100% confident in this film. Where most trailers are one or two minutes long, this one is four. Where most trailers try to keep certain parts of the movie secret, this one practically tells you everything that happens in the story. Hell, we focus on the old lady for a solid minute until we see our main characters. Even the framing plot device, that gets attention in here.
Cal Hockley: I have been robbed!
Master-at-arms: Is this it?
Jack Dawson: Don't you believe it, Rose! Rose!
NC (vo): Practically no major plot threads are left out at all.
Rose: The water is freezing, and there aren't enough boats. Half the people on this ship are going to die.
Cal Hockley: Not the better half.
NC (vo): But the great thing about it is that the film is so huge in its towering presence that it doesn't matter. The more you show, the more people will wanna see it. Why? Because the size and weight of it is perfectly represented. Even if you looked at it and said, "Oh, man, these characters look cliche, the story looks silly", it doesn't matter. You're gonna see this no matter what. That's a pretty tough task when you think about it. You know you won't like a lot of it, and yet, you know you have to see it, like you have no choice. It's still something so big that you have to check it out. It's like an obligation. That's the sign of an incredible trailer.
Jack Dawson: I have nothing to offer you, and I know how the world works.
Ship watcher: Iceberg, right ahead!
[The ship hits the iceberg]
NC (vo): Capture both the whimsy and the terror that the film tried to convey, and chances are, one of those, if not both of those, is going to pull you in.
Cal Hockley: I hope you enjoy your time together!
[The trailer reaches its climax, showing the ship reaching its final stages of sinking and people falling into the water]
Jack Dawson: We have to stay on the ship as long as possible!
[The ship breaks in half]
NC (vo): Finally, top it off with arguably the most impressive and intense shot in the movie.
[We see Jack and Rose sitting on the top of the stern as the ship slowly sinks into the water]
Rose: Oh, God.
Jack Dawson: This is it! Hold on!
Rose: [whimpering] Oh, God. Oh... Oh, God.
[After a bright flash, the title is finally shown]
NC (vo): Holy shit! And that is why you saw this movie in the theater. Well, and the magic of Billy Zane, of course.
NC: [Imitates Cal Hockley as a clip of Cal himself saying what NC says is shown] Find her.
NC (vo): And the Number 1 greatest film trailer of all time is... "Psycho". Now, on the surface, this might actually look like a bad trailer. In fact, you could make the argument that this trailer does everything completely wrong. What is a trailer supposed to be? Well, it's supposed to be an experience, something to suck you in, excite you and make you not want to miss the movie at all costs. It's not supposed to just be a guy walking around saying, "I made a movie" and give away all the biggest scenes in a nonchalant way, all while showing absolutely no clips from the movie at all.
Alfred Hitchcock: In that window on the second floor, the single one in front, that's where the woman was first seen.
NC (vo): But that is exactly what Hitchcock does here. To give a little backstory, he had a lot riding on this film. In fact, most people passed on producing it, so he had to finance most of it himself. So you would think he would do everything in his power to make this look like the most epic film he could, like most other classic trailers. But instead, he walks around showing the set and talking in his usual very monotone voice.
Alfred Hitchcock: This picture has great significance.
NC (vo): It is one of the most unexciting things you can imagine. In fact, he's giving away the biggest scares. It's almost like he's trying to ruin the film.
Alfred Hitchcock: And it was at the top of these stairs, where the second murder took place. She came out of the door there and met the victim at the top.
NC (vo): So then, why would this be the greatest trailer ever? It sounds like it does everything you're not supposed to do with a trailer. This is where Hitchcock's genius comes in. Knowing the hype and the stories around the film, as well as his awareness of his celebrity, he gives people the exact opposite of what they were expecting. He's droll, he's dry, but all he talks about is how incredibly violent and grotesque the movie he made is, almost like there's something wrong with him.
Alfred Hitchcock: [various scenes] You should have seen the blood. / There was the knife... / Dreadful. / The victim tumbled and fell with a horrible crack. I think the back broke immediately it hit the floor. / The whole place was, well, it's...it's too horrible to describe. / Twisting of the, of the, well, I, it's...
NC (vo): His description of such awful imagery is both specific and vague, and it's so strangely executed that you can't help but question: what kind of a movie is this?
Alfred Hitchcock: Being dominated by an almost maniacal woman was enough to drive anyone to the extreme of, uh... er, well, let's go in.
NC (vo): The best part is, all the talk of blood and gore doesn't faze him at all, but what gets him really uncomfortable is when he talks about the motivation. That's when he goes speechless.
Alfred Hitchcock: She was the weirdest and the most... well, let's go into her bedroom. [Points to another bedroom door] This was the son's room, but, er, we won't go in there. [Cut to him showing a framed picture] Because... uh... let's go along to Cabin #1.
NC (vo): Well, now you gotta see this movie just to know what the hell makes him feel so awkward! Look at this scene. We have no idea what he sees in that closet. It could be a dead body or just ugly clothes. But chances are, his reaction would be the same!
Alfred Hitchcock: I think some of her clothes are still in this wardrobe. [Looks inside the wardrobe, gives a look to the camera, then closes the wardrobe]
NC (vo): There's even a scene where he accidentally goes into the bathroom.
[Hitchcock opens a door, then closes it]
Alfred Hitchcock: Bathroom.
NC (vo): It's almost like he's trolling us, like his big-budget controversial epic is reduced to him talking about it like an incredibly boring fanboy. But with his brilliant direction and acting, he told us everything and nothing about the film at the same time, and by the time it was over, by God, we just had to see what kind of sick, fucked-up movie this guy put together. With only one clip from the film played at the end, it does everything the total opposite of what a trailer is supposed to do. And yet, through clever wording, dry acting and dark atmosphere, you know it would drive you insane if you never saw this strange, strange movie from this strange, strange man. And sure enough, you did see it, as did millions of people, and millions of people still do today. And it all started with this awesome little gem. It's the perfect trailer for doing everything wrong, and yet somehow getting everything right.
Alfred Hitchcock: And, uh...
[He approaches a shower and opens the curtain to reveal Marion Crane, who screams loudly as the film's title is shown]
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.
[He gets up and leaves. The credits roll]