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Grading All of the Trailers From the Super Bowl

The very first look at ‘Solo,’ Season 2 of ‘Westworld,’ and ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’—the last of which released a trailer and then dropped the entire movie

Marvel/HBO/Legendary/Ringer illustration

The Super Bowl isn’t just about football. It’s about companies spending stupid amounts of money for 30 to 60 seconds of ad time; it’s about the official beginning of blockbuster season, when the summer’s (and by “summer” we mean “late March and beyond,” because that’s how this works now) biggest movies make their debut in front of the largest television audience of the year. This was a great Super Bowl for trailers—even TV networks got in on it! From Tom Cruise’s latest death-defying stunts in Mission Impossible to our robot overlords taking over Westworld, we’ve graded all this year’s buzziest TV and movie teasers, some of which brought a lot more hype than others (no offense, Dwayne Johnson). Here’s how they stack up.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Talk about a flex. With this trailer, not only did Netflix confirm that they had acquired the new Cloverfield movie from Paramount (which was heavily rumored), but after it dropped, they then announced that The Cloverfield Paradox will be available to stream right after the Super Bowl. The Cloverfield franchise is synonymous with unique, viral marketing, and using the biggest televised event of the year was a clever gambit. Here’s hoping the film is as creative as its distribution.

Grade: A

Solo: A Star Wars Story

With all the secrecy surrounding Solo: A Star Wars Story heading into Sunday—nothing outside of an extremely vague synopsis was unveiled with less than five months until it hit theaters—the concern level was admittedly growing. And yet with this first-look teaser, that’s already an afterthought; such is the power of 45 thrilling seconds and one killer coat from Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian.

We’ll get the full-length trailer tomorrow on Good Morning America. Until then, I’m cautiously optimistic that all the behind-the-scenes drama for Solo could’ve been overblown.

Grade: A-

Westworld Season 2

There were so many great things about this Westworld trailer: The cyborg buffalo plowing through human security; Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores delivering a chilling voiceover; Ed Harris’s return as the Man in Black, who’s now fighting for his life inside the theme park. But the real MVP was the expert use of Kanye West’s “Runaway” at the end of the trailer to bring the hype up to 11. Mark your calendars: April 22 can’t come soon enough.

Grade: A

Castle Rock

Hulu’s Castle Rock, which debuts sometime this summer, might as well be called “Stephen King’s Greatest Hits.” Previous teasers have referenced The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Shining, It, and more for a brand new story set in Maine (where else?). With J.J. Abrams on board as an executive producer—plus alums of other King movies, including It’s Bill Skarsgard—Castle Rock is one of Hulu’s most enticing projects. However, this teaser is victim to the rare mistake of keeping information too close to the vest—all we know is that a man played by Moonlight’s André Holland is returning to his hometown and that “something terrible is going to happen,” which is, uh, pretty vague. A little more exposition on what the hell this is about wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Grade: C+

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

It’s not entirely clear what the next mission is for Ethan Hunt—the official synopsis says it’s a “mission gone wrong,” a.k.a. every Mission: Impossible movie ever. But Mission: Impossible — Fallout seems like an even greater showcase for Tom Cruise’s increasingly preposterous stunts: As he gruesomely revealed on The Graham Norton Show last month, one building jump broke his ankle. He’s also flying helicopters into trucks (??), falling off cliffs, and getting tossed around a bathroom. The Mission Impossible franchise is outta control, and I’m loving it.

Grade: B+

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

If the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom felt like it was leading to nowhere—a volcano is destroyed the island and dinosaurs were literally jumping into the water alongside Chris Pratt—the Super Bowl teaser clears some things up. It appears the action will eventually make its way stateside, where another lab-concocted dino-hybrid, similar to Jurassic World’s Indominus rex, is wreaking havoc. However, how this new dinosaur makes its way to a child’s bedroom is, uh, less clear.

I suppose that’s a great incentive to find out come June.

Grade: B-


Skyscraper is an extremely Dwayne Johnson movie. He plays a ridiculously jacked but well-meaning family man. Echoing his greatest line from the Fast & Furious franchise, he says “Daddy’s gotta go make that bacon” to his two children and, no joke, Scream’s Neve Campbell is his wife. He’s in, you guessed it, a gigantic skyscraper that is crumbling apart—for reasons! The biggest twist: Johnson’s character has a prosthetic leg. That probably wouldn’t seem as important to mention if they didn’t spotlight it several times in the span of 45 seconds—including a scene in which his character is dangling from said skyscraper with his prosthetic leg about to detach from his body.

I feel like we need to grade this on a curve—this is the ultimate Dwayne Johnson movie, so by that metric, it might be perfect.

Grade: A+

Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac & the Notorious B.I.G.

Given television’s current obsession with infamous murder cases from the ’90s, it’s perhaps unsurprising that USA Network has a true crime spin of its own coming this month. Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac & the Notorious B.I.G. will tackle the deaths of the eponymous rappers—and credit where it’s due, Wavyy Jonez and Marcc Rose certainly look the part of Biggie and Tupac, respectively. However, whether this stacks up to FX’s American Crime Story anthology—or Steve McQueen’s forthcoming Tupac documentary—remains to be seen.

Grade: C+

Avengers: Infinity War

Maybe it’s unfair to grade Marvel on a higher scale, but the Infinity War trailer didn’t bring much to the table. A 30-second spot can only do so much when you’re spending the entire thing introducing all your heroes—the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and so forth—along with your purple thumb of a villain, Thanos. Not that any of this is going to stop Infinity War from being the biggest movie of the summer. Let’s just get a bigger trailer online next time.

Grade: C-