For many of us, the Super Bowl isn’t about the game so much as the party and the food and the commercials, especially the movie previews. As usual, this year gave us a mix of ads for films opening fairly soon and blockbusters arriving this summer. And as usual, some studios spent their dollars wisely while others didn’t, so there was also a mix of good and bad that will lead the buzz on these titles for at least the next couple days. After the jump we’ve listed all the movies advertised during Super Bowl XLVII and categorized each as one of the winner or one of the losers of this annual Hollywood marketing game.
Star Trek Into Darkness
One of the best ways to reach the masses with this sort of movie — that is a sequel within a geeky franchise trying to be darker and cooler and more accessible — is to focus on the action — and also the villain. Make him seem more interesting (and “the better”) than the familiar characters we’ve known for decades, and maintain the level of mystery that the rest of us are so intrigued by. Also, show the iconic spaceship of the good guys crashing into a city. Never mind the reason for this all to be really appealing, whether we simply want to know that the heroes don’t have it easy going from a film’s beginning to its end — that they have to be knocked down before they get up again and lay the winning punch — or that we’re deep down all pretty sadistic, but people do love that stuff. And this promises it all in only half a minute.
On top of a good spot on TV, Star Trek Into Darkness gets bonus points for having people download an app to unlock an extended version. As far as I can tell, that extension is only four extra seconds, which is kinda frustrating. Still, that initial spot is pretty great, and the app is also special in that it’s apparently the only way for fans to get tickets to see the movie two days early, on May 15.
Iron Man 3
The Air Force One sequence that actually aired on TV during the Super Bowl is pretty good, but doesn’t it remind everyone of the Dark Knight Rises prologue? (Oh, and then all those Bane jokes when the Superdome’s lights went out didn’t help.) Fortunately there was the extended version online, which for the most part is previously seen trailer footage plus the same air spectacle with our metal superhero facing a dilemma of who’s worth saving the most. Ahead of that, however, is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark just giving us a literal extended look for more than 20 seconds. It’s nice to see them having some fun with this marketing outlet, and it’s a great reminder that no matter how good or so-so an Iron Man sequel is, RDJ in the role is pure magic. Let’s really hope they don’t try making an Iron Man 4 without him.
Fast & Furious 6
Let’s just call this movie “Planes, Tanks and Automobiles,” and then let’s declare it one of the best surprises of all the movie trailers. It helps, for sure, that this is our first look at footage from the sequel. But that wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t also jam-packed with awesomeness. It’s a shame if they blew their whole load here, what with the fast cars, crazy ramp cars, tanks crushing cars and cars shooting out of the front of crashing airplanes. Oh, and I think we saw some faces in there, too, of all our favorite Fast and Furious stars. Oh, who are we kidding, do we really care that Michelle Rodriguez is back after all that insane action?
Maybe it’s not the biggest movie of the bunch, but it’s smart to sell a decent-looking dudes movie for fathers starring Dwayne Johnson (who was in a few Super Bowl commercials) during an event like this. Especially one that hasn’t already been receiving a lot of promotion or buzz, in spite of the full trailer being out for a few months already. The only thing missing was a note at the end telling us how to watch the Frontline episode the film is based on. Everyone would have appreciated that, right?
World War Z
In a weekend where we’ve seen the release of a fresh yet still relatively practical zombie movie, this upcoming zombie blockbuster (zom-buster?) looks like a disappointing overkill. Do we need a zombie movie that appears to be a mostly CG disaster movie reminiscent of War of the Worlds, I Am Legend and, worst of all, 2012? This one is also weak for not showing us anything we haven’t already seen in the film’s first full trailer, which is about three months old.
The Lone Ranger
Outside of your nostalgic grandfather watching the game, who saw this ad and is excited about this movie? Actually, your grandfather was probably more interested when he just heard about the movie and hadn’t seen any of the footage. Yes, it’s from the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it’s also just a big messy western that starts off sounding like Cowboys and Aliens except with ghosts(?). There’s not much here that looks any better than that disappointment or Jonah Hex or Wild Wild West or any other attempts at blockbuster action westerns. If anything, the train sequence reminds me that it’s been a while since I’ve seen Shanghai Noon, which at least has Jackie Chan. They should have better exploited the Pirates angle, shown Depp doing something more interesting than a few simple Tonto phrases, if he even does have anything to offer those of us who latched onto Pirates via his wild Captain Jack shtick. This movie has been doomed for a while, but this ad only proves it’s not going to surprise us for the better.
Oz The Great and Powerful
If you’ve already seen the trailer for this, the ad does nothing for you. If the Super Bowl is the first place you’re hearing and seeing about the Wizard of Oz prequel, you’re probably a bit confused. There’s a lot going on in this spot and it goes by really quick. Witches and fire and fireworks and smoke and, for the money shot, scary flying monkeys. It doesn’t matter that this one is a loser, though. Unlike The Lone Ranger, this movie is going to be huge with the kids. Just like its predecessor, Alice in Wonderland.