The Super Bowl's best and worst sci-fi movie and TV trailers

For some of us, which teams were on the field last night was only the SECOND most important thing about the Super Bowl. What's more important is that outside of Comic-Con, Super Bowl Sunday's the best time to catch the most awesome (and not-so-awesome) trailers for Hollywood's blockbuster movies and TV shows.

We've ranked the Super Bowl movie trailers for you here from worst to best. (Note that we only critiqued the commercials, not the full-length trailers, many of which you can find here.)


Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

A title card warns us that the Earth goes dark. Does that mean we don't have to see this plotless, testosterone-poisoned trailer again?

Captain America

Whatever credibility Captain America has as a trailer—and as a movie—is pulverized when a female scientist whips out a gun and shoots Cap's shield to test its indestructibility. If the shield hadn't worked, she would have killed the subject the U.S. government had spent so much time and energy on. But because it did, bullets sprayed around the unprotected room. Why would she do that? Because bad science looks better than real science.

Super 8

A boy films the destruction of his small town with his Super 8 camera. The voice-over gives no real information, and we don't learn anything about the characters or the world. You would think that Spielberg could afford better editors.


Mars Needs Moms

If we learn anything about Mars Needs Moms, it's that our hero has a deadline to retrieve his mom from the Martians ... with butt blasters. He might not be competent, but at least he's determined.

Cowboys & Aliens

In the Cowboys & Aliens trailer, we quickly see that the protagonist is a brawling gunslinger. We also learn that civilization is outclassed by its alien enemies. We wish the second half of the trailer had the same intensity as the first half. And, sadly, naked Olivia Wilde didn't add to the impact.

Terra Nova

Humans and time travel and dinosaurs, oh my. From 30 seconds, we see that Terra Nova could be a lot of fun. But it makes us ask the question, "Why couldn't we go back to a point in time when we weren't so low on the food chain?"


Thor benefits from a clear voice-over about the power of Thor's hammer. The images are a bit scattered, with unconnected scenes of fighting, but we see that Thor is a hero who will defend us ... and Natalie Portman.

Adjustment Bureau

Adjustment Bureau's trailer has an actual voice-over that lays out the story. Trailer editors stopped using this device because it was too obvious a way of telling a story. But when you consider some of the other trailers' lack of clarity, we're all for going retro.


As a trailer, Limitless works: character, plot, pacing, Robert freakin' De Niro ... it has it all. Unfortunately, it couldn't make the main character likable enough to be truly enticing.


Rango tells us the movie has action, comedy, romance, blah blah blah. But when it tells us it has "other stuff," we're charmed.

Battle Los Angeles

Battle: Los Angeles does extremely well as a 30-second trailer: Get in, tell us what it's about—aliens wiping out humanity to colonize the planet—get out.



Priest succeeds where other trailers fail because it doesn't just convey the grim, gritty mood: The editors also tell us what the movie is about. Using Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" as the soundtrack is a great touch as well.

Pirates of the Caribbean (30 seconds)

Pirates of the Caribbean has the advantage of clearly defined plot, clearly defined characters and that awesome soundtrack. Even though some of us had closed the book on Jack Sparrow's adventures, this trailer made us believe that the next chapter is in capable hands.

Pirates of the Caribbean (1 minute)

The 60-second commercial has more Ian McShane, who plays Blackbeard the pirate. And everything is better with more Ian McShane.

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