We know that the best part of going to the movies is seeing the trailers, those dazzling advertisements designed to sell you on a movie in 90 seconds. Heck, studios have caught on: You can even see trailers for trailers these days.
We also know that trailers are sometimes more entertaining than the movie you actually paid to see. And, as we have discovered to our dismay, the trailers are often better than the very movies they're trying to sell.
A tightly edited, flashy selection of a movie's best moments--accompanied by an edgy, pulse-pounding score--can mask a movie's true horribleness. Following are our picks for the best 2008 trailers for movies that sucked.
1. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Director Uwe Boll should consider letting the guy who cut this trailer cut his next movie. And maybe direct it, too. At this point, most sci-fi fans are aware that the mere inclusion of the name Uwe Boll on a project is like a "guaranteed stinker" stamp. If you judged the film by its trailer, you'd think otherwise.
2. Jumper. The concept is undeniably cool: whisk away to any place at any time and be back home in time for supper. The trailer smartly highlighted this dream scenario, focusing on the abilities of Jumpers rather than on the well-worn plot about an age-old war between good and evil. The teaser worked well enough to persuade moviegoers to plunk down their cash for this stinker, enough so that director Doug Liman and his producers are contemplating a sequel. So who's going to break the news to Fox that no one actually liked the movie?
3. 10,000 B.C. Overblown digital effects can be masked in a flashy trailer full of quick "did I just see that?" cuts. The first sign that 10,000 B.C. would be lousy: the fact that it looked better when you saw less of it. The teaser trailer is awesome, revealing just enough to whet your appetite for the truly terrible 109 minutes that multiple critics have called the worst movie they'd ever seen. (Director Roland Emmerich's next, 2012, is already being touted by a similarly tantalizing teaser trailer. Viewer beware.)
4. Speed Racer. Trailers elevated interest in the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer from morbid curiosity to full-on anticipation. Bright, colorful and action-packed, this was the classic cartoon come to life in live-action form, and it looked like nothing we'd ever seen before. Sadly, those same elements were the exact reason the movie was so excruciating to sit through. Watching toy race cars speed by in a blur of retina-burning colors and revving engines may work well enough for 90 seconds, but the Wachowskis exhaust the concept about 15 minutes into their two hour and 15 minute extravaganza.
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Seriously, was there any way a fourth Indiana Jones movie was going to live up to the hype and anticipation built up over 19 years? Still, Spielberg and company were smart to leave space aliens out of the trailer. Instead, they focused on the easy marks: Harrison Ford, the hat and the beloved John Williams score. It also helped that Ford didn't look quite as old in the gear as many expected. Fanboys hearts went aflutter, momentarily able to block out producer George Lucas' Star Wars prequels and hold faith that director Steven Spielberg could deliver. Something tells me both used up whatever was left of their fanboy goodwill just about the time the movie's third-act spaceship zoomed into another dimension.
6.) The Happening. The cat was already out of the bag on M. Night Shyamalan's uni-dimensional directorial abilities (anyone see Lady in the Water?), but Night's been able to cash in a few more "get out of jail free" cars on the goodwill from The Sixth Sense. The trailer for his latest sci-fi horror opus intrigued with its spooky scenario and compelling images: bodies falling from a rooftop, streets full of frozen bodies. And who doesn't like Mark Wahlberg? (Say hi to your mother for me!) In the end, The Happening was exactly what skeptics predicted: Another paper-thin concept wrapped in a half-baked script.
7.) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser, you've burned us for the last time! Again and again, we get taken in by your lovable smile and nice-guy attitude, only to have you literally steal our hard-earned moviegoing cash. Well, this was the last time! And Rob Cohen? Didn't you learn your lesson after Stealth? Both of you should check if Rachel Weisz's agent is seeking new clients. Somehow, Mummy sequels keep getting made, each worse than its predecessor, which wasn't that good to begin with. Condensed to two minutes, this third installment's trailer features big action, cool effects and plenty of Jet Li acrobatics. But two minutes is about all of the worthwhile material the entire film had to offer.
8.) The X-Files: I Want to Believe. This was supposed to be the X-Files movie the fans were waiting for. A decade since the first movie and six years after the series ended, creator Chris Carter was finally stepping back into the director's chair, Mulder and Scully were FINALLY getting back together, and all signs pointed to a media blitz from Fox. Instead, the studio apparently spent the bulk of its lackluster marketing campaign on a few mysterious, cool trailers carefully constructed to conceal as much of the lame, meandering plot and mopey character moments as possible.
9.) Mirrors. Boy oh boy, talk about blowing all your money shots in the trailer. Yes, the jaw separation scene is unique and completely unsettling. In fact, it makes watching the full movie far less compelling, since you know Amy Smart's character is going to get it eventually anyway. But that's far from the only problem with this incredibly hokey slasher flick. Kiefer Sutherland is either incapable of playing anything other than Jack Bauer at this point, or that's the angle overrated director Alexandre Aja told him to take with the character. Either way, Mirrors looked like a horror movie in the trailer, but played more like a comedy. An unintentional comedy.