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2007 Best & Worst: Movie trailers

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By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

As the year rushes rapidly to a close, we continue to sift through the mountainous kilobytes of pop culture detritus that have piled up on our computers and in our brains over the past 12 months.

After polling friends, co-workers, and even one former Golden Trailer award winner, it has become apparent that one’s response to trailers, like any art form, is essentially a personal experience. One person’s tantalizing pre-show screen candy is another person’s flashing warning sign of danger. And no two can agree.

We considered input from all sources, checked out trailers that we had missed and put together this list, which, we know, represents our particular tastes. Feel free to argue. Feel even freer to agree.

P.S. This list is of trailers that debuted in 2007. Many of these movies have not yet come out. ()
Lions For Lambs
Most confusing: ‘Lions for Lambs’

Who knows what is going on in this trailer. Robert Redford is talking to students. The students are signing up to go to Iraq. Meryl Streep is walking around looking concerned. Tom Cruise is lecturing about the war on terror. What? Do any of these things have anything to do with each other? All we knew after seeing this trailer is that we didn’t want to see the movie. (Francois Duhamel / United Artists / MGM)
Speed Racer
The worst: ‘Speed Racer’

This trailer is clearly made for movie novices -- those young folk (perhaps age 7 and below) who have not yet learned that if a movie includes a monkey, lines like “You think you can drive a car and win a race and change the world? It doesn’t work that way!” and John Goodman AND it is not directed by the Coen brothers who can make just about anything work, then that movie is certainly doomed to failure. Add some horrible looking graphics and a seizure inducing pace, and this is hands-down the worst trailer of the year. (speedracerthemovie.warnerbros.com)
‘I’m Not There’
Best trailer for a mediocre movie: ‘I’m Not There’

It was an interesting idea for a movie — don’t try to synthesize all of Bob Dylan’s personas, myths, legends, stories into one grand narrative — split them up. Keep them separate. Explore each of them on their own. Let different people embody the different sides of the man. And photograph it beautifully. When that idea becomes an actual two-hour-plus movie it works, but just barely. As fodder for a two-minute trailer, however — clever, beautiful, intriguing. (Jonathan Wenk / Associated Press)
‘Thanksgiving’
Most violent fake trailer: ‘Thanksgiving’ (from ‘Grindhouse’)

Included in this trailer: A cooked turkey that bleeds, the beheading of a Thanksgiving day mascot, a topless girl on a trampoline who gets knifed from below while doing a split (ICK!), a blood-tasting cop, a grandma, puking at the dinner table and a deep, deep voice-over with lines like: “You’ll come home for the holidays … in a body bag.” (Dimension Films)
Get Smart
Funniest: ‘Get Smart’

We’ve watched this trailer multiple times in the past several months and have laughed until we cried every time. Co-workers, wondering what has us wiping our eyes, have asked us to pass the link along, and while some of them have let out audible chuckles, it is possible that this particular trailer, featuring Steve Carrell almost exclusively, appeals very specifically to a certain humor sensibility. (Ours!) But such hilarity!! We cannot wait for this movie to come out. (apple.com/trailers)
Machine Girl
Most violent real trailer: ‘Machine Girl’

Included in this trailer: A normal high school girl who loses everything and seeks revenge, Yakuza, Ninjas, finger sushi (apparently about to be eaten by a sushi chef who has chopped off his own fingers), a flying guillotine, a “drill bra,” a tempura arm, some crazy zombie-looking people covered in blood and a lot of screaming. It’s insane. (Fever Dream)
‘Iron Man’
Best received: ‘Iron Man’

There was some concern in the fanboy world when it was announced that Robert Downey Jr. would be playing Tony Stark, a.k.a., Iron Man. Too skinny? Too wussy? Too fast-talking? Of course, we never doubted that Downey could pull it off. He’s one of our favorite actors and the word “miscast” has never been applied to him. EVER. And with this trailer, which includes snappy one-liners as well as a steady progression of Iron Man suits, he won the fanboys over too. We hear people went insane at Comic-Con. (Zade Rosenthal / Paramount Pictures)
‘Cloverfield’
Most talked about: ‘Cloverfield’

Our pod-mate suggests that the “Cloverfield” trailer be called the best of the year since when it came out this summer it became a story in itself. It certainly was intriguing: a guy filming his rooftop going-away party in New York City. All seems perfectly normal before everybody starts screaming. The camera falls to the floor. And that was it. No explanation. No nothing. Like everyone else who saw that trailer, we couldn’t wait to get home, jump on the Internet and try to understand what the heck we just saw. (Paramount Pictures)
‘I Am Legend’
The best: ‘I Am Legend’

This “piece” (as our Golden Trailer award-winning friend calls it) is a mini-movie in itself. We open on a chaotic scene: a crowded city full of terrified people, and quickly cut to a bleak, lonely landscape. Here the trailer takes its time. Will Smith moves through an empty city with no one to talk to but his dog. But just when we are feeling sorry for him, trapped in this forlorn existence, the word “night” flashes on the screen followed by the more terrifying word “survive.” And there is Smith curled up in the bathtub with his dog and his gun. From here on it’s nothing but heart-pounding terror. (And the horrible, horrible notion that there is no way that sweet dog is going to live through the movie). (Warner Bros.)
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