The Best and Worst Super Bowl Trailers of 2018

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We rank the trailers and the movie-related ads from the big game.

This year’s biggest game wasn’t the one between the Eagles and the Patriots (though that was a pretty good game); it was between the movie trailers and movie-related commercials aired during the Super Bowl. In this day and age, it’s tough for us to still be surprised by anything during this event, whether because of advance word or early release of the spots online, but we had both a big shocker and the first, highly anticipated look at one of the year’s biggest movies. Plus some more trailers and ads that were still above average in the way they marketed to the huge audience of football fans as well as those just tuning in for the breaks. There were far more winners than losers this year, as you can see by my ranking below.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox 

This one wins for the history-making shock of it all. It’s the first time we’ve seen anything of this mysterious third Cloverfield movie (retrofitted from something called God’s Particle), the first time we’re getting confirmation on the title, and especially stunning, it’s a revelation that the movie would become available in a matter of hours. On top of that, though, the first teaser also reveals that it’s a prequel that will explain the origins of the Cloverfield Monster. I guess it’s not an anthology franchise after all? The fans who complained about 10 Cloverfield Lane not being linked enough (or at all) win. Of course, otherwise, between the first and the later teaser being more clear about the movie being available now, the footage shown doesn’t actually look that great. Fortunately, the gimmick is overshadowing that.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Technically all we were shown during the Super Bowl was a teaser for the real trailer, which will arrive in the morning. Yet nobody seemed to mind that this was just a smidgen, for one big reason: Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. He only has a quick shot, lit by lightning, but his suave appearance warmed many a fan and casual Star Wars viewer to this troubled production. By the time Alden Ehrenreich shows his face as young Han Solo, we’re all on board, though would be more so if this was actually Calrissian: A Star Wars Story. There’s enough Chewie, droids, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, clean Millennium Falcon and more to have us all turned from the Dark Side of worry with the latest spin-off prequel.

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Westworld Season 2

Even if you haven’t ever seen Westworld, you have to recognize the brilliance of this first trailer for the second season. The spot begins in the guise of a typical Super Bowl commercial for Budweiser or a car or insurance or whatever with its landscape shots and acknowledgement of the beauty of this great country of ours. Then it’s revealed to be an ad for Westworld as that great land and its natural beauty and animals and people are exposed as artificial. Plus the very premise of the ad dealing with these AIs storming the castle of their makers looks damn good. Even as someone who never got into the first season, I feel a need to get back into it so I can watch what happens now.

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Jeep: “Jurassic”

Remember how there was a Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom trailer earlier in the night (see below)? You may have forgotten once this Jeep ad came through for the true fans of the original movie and what makes it great. The T-rex looks just as good as anything in the Jurassic World sequel spot, plus it has silver fox Jeff Goldblum (and footage of 1993 Goldblum) re-creating an iconic moment with a twist. Instead of going to see the new movie this summer, just buy a Jeep! Yeah, it might be just a bit more than a ticket.

https://youtu.be/oMOljrWUUXc

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Any other Die Hard knockoff that’s actually just Die Hard in a… building… again” would have landed with a thud during the Super Bowl. And any other Dwayne Johnson movie, even in the midst of Jumanji‘s success, would have been met with a shrug. But this movie caught the intrigue of every sane person that understands how enjoyable The Rock (with a prosthetic leg!) in an overdone Die Hard remake will be. If San Andreas can be a hit, this will be, too. Plus, the movie is making Neve Campbell happen again!

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Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

For the main audience watching the Super Bowl, this trailer for Amazon’s Jack Ryan reboot starring John Krasinski works perfectly. Not only does this sort of program appeal to the more conservative mainstream crowd, but the ad targets them with a fitting spot for the big game with its real presidential speeches (a much better use of historical figures in voiceover than Dodge Ram’s MLK exploitation). Meanwhile, you’ve got a reference to Lost, music that reminds us of Battlestar Galactica, and an overall feel of 24Homeland, and thanks to Krasinski’s face, January-release true-war movies like 13 Hours.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout 

After all the joking about Henry Cavill’s mustache, the one that messed with Justice League, and the usual quips about Tom Cruise running and hurting himself a lot, this eventually turns out to be a good trailer. The first half is bit too concerned with the seemingly convoluted plot and its connection to the previous movie, but by the end montage of stunts it’s teased the goods pretty well. A lot more falling from things, which shows that Ethan Hunt and the actor playing him are getting old and possibly less capable of success with these crazy feats. That makes them even more intense, of course. Could Hunt eventually die in one of these? Nahhhhh.

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Lexus: “Long Live the King”

Even better than Marvel’s own movie trailer (see below), this cross-promotion for the new Lexus LS 500 F Sport and Black Panther is effective at maintaining our excitement for the next MCU installment while forgiving the product placement tie-in. It’s also great that it features Letitia Wright, who is getting terrific buzz as a break out star in the movie, alongside Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa, aka Black Panther. Good to hear that Run the Jewels track from the first BP trailer used again, too.

https://youtu.be/01AEuxSlIMg

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Avengers: Infinity War 

Considering this is the most anticipated movie of the year, Marvel wasn’t a huge winner with its Super Bowl marketing. They went with a simple spot during the second half of the game, easily overlooked and definitely overshadowed by some of the earlier shockers. And that’s fine, because it already unleashed a big trailer, and this still has some fresh wow moments, such as Cap’s new shield and Teen Groot being focused on a phone or video game device, and it sure packs a lot of heroes into half a minute.

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Castle Rock

The main trailer this video leads into is not new and isn’t as effective as the brief tease aired during the game. But that first part, kicking off with a mention of Shawshank Prison that caught the ears of many a Super Bowl viewer, succeeds with its many nods to more Stephen King properties making everyone curious about what this thing is. There’s no explanation that it’s a series inspired by the work of King sort of mashing all his ideas together, but that just means people will be looking it up afterward.

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A Quiet Place

There’s not much to say about this movie from John Krasinski that teams him up with wife Emily Blunt. What is it that’s hunting them? Who knows. The idea of them needing to stay very, very quiet is interesting enough (why would they even let that kid have a toy with sounds?). It’s short and intriguing, not Krasinski’s biggest hit of the night but a fine taste.

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Dundee (Tourism Australia)

Not only am I bummed that Dundee is not a real movie, which was clear long before the official punchline ad during the Super Bowl, but this commercial wasn’t even a satisfying conclusion to the campaign. After a few teases of a movie that doesn’t exist, it’s just a cheap, fleeting, rather underwhelming pitch for Australia tourism. Beaches, wine, and restaurants? That’s really all you’ve got after tricking us with funny trailers starring Danny McBride as the son of “Crocodile” Dundee with Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Ruby Rose, Hugh Jackman, and more? McBride’s disappointment is our own disappointment. I’ve wanted to go Down Under for decades — with the original Crocodile Dundee being one of the best ads itself for the country — but this was actually the first time I thought it looked pretty common and basic. I liked finally seeing Paul Hogan make a cameo, though.

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Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom

This isn’t a bad trailer, but it’s also not that grand for something shown during the Super Bowl. We’ve seen a lot of this footage in the first trailer, with only a few extras thrown in such as the stuff with a dinosaur creeping into a little girl’s bedroom like he’s some big bad wolf of a fairy tale. It’s difficult to see what the plot is and why we need to come back for yet another adventure with some of the same dinosaurs (and effects) as wowed us 25 years ago and a new creation that doesn’t really inspire added terror or thrill. There’s still hope this will be a better movie than the last one — it looks like it could be more genuinely scary — but this ad doesn’t have me convinced yet. Plus there’s not one shot of Jeff Goldblum, meaning a car commercial tied to the same franchise (see above) surely excited fans more.

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Red Sparrow

The first trailer of the night did nothing to catch the eyes of Super Bowl viewers, or anyone. They couldn’t put some fight scene footage or anything attention-grabbing in this spot? All there is here is a generic-looking thriller in the wake of Atomic Blonde and numerous other action TV series and movies led by women over the years. Between seeing the real Black Widow in an Avengers movie trailer and a ton of action in the one for popular spy franchise Mission: Impossible, this thing’s got nothing.

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Michelob Ultra: “The Perfect Fit”

Sure, it’s nice to see Chris Pratt in a commercial, and this one is kinda funny with its simple set up and punchline of Pratt preparing for a role that turns out to be just a background extra gig. But as an ad for Michelob Ultra, what’s the sell? That it’s a beer for people in the background? That it’s just a prop for this commercial premise that could have literally been applied to any product? That it’s better as a weight for strengthening your arms than a beverage? Also, as a beer snob I’ll just say it: Michelob Ultra is worthless.

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Christopher began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called 'Read,' back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials.