Super Bowl commercials 2011: 'Darth Vader' Volkswagen ad gets high marks

Compiled by Ian Saleh
Washington Post Staff
Monday, February 7, 2011; 2:11 PM

The Super Bowl 45 telecast featured several highly anticipated ads. Hank Stuever thought one in particular stood out:

Super Bowl's commercials - upon which so much of the cultural zeitgeist hangs its hopes - mostly failed to score big. There were a few highlights here and there, beginning and ending for most viewers with a satisfyingly cute Volkswagen ad, in which a child in a Darth Vader costume stomps around the house and tries to use the Force, to little avail, except when he remote-starts his father's Passat in the driveway.

All night long, viewers kept tweeting and otherwise remarking that this was their favorite ad. What? It has no bimbos, no tools, no misogyny, nobody being hurled through plate-glass windows! It's just a kid in a Darth Vader costume. But that's the beauty of it - some years, the best "event" commercials just tell a brief and relatable story, with the careful use of a celebrity (in this case, the Dark Lord of the Sith and his "Imperial March" soundtrack, which can't have been an inexpensive line item on VW's production budget).

Celebritology gave its review of the non-football winners and losers from Super Bowl XLV, including the Volkswagen commercial:

Winner: Gen X sci-fi nostalgia

Two of the most enjoyable moments of the night -- the genius Darth Vader Volkswagen ad (dubbed "The Force") and the teaser for "Super 8," which immediately shot the J.J. Abrams movie into Google-trending territory -- proved that nostalgia for the late '70s/early '80s Spielberg/Lucas era is anything but dead.

Poll: How would you rank these Super Bowl commercials?

Beyond the commercials several movies were previewed during the big game, and Celebritology was there to profile all the big screen teasers:

As promised, Super Bowl LXV provided the perfect platform for hyping a number of high profile movies, including "Super 8," "Captain America," "Cowboys & Aliens," "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and others.

So which blockbuster commercial looked the most promising? Let's take a look at a few, then rank them via a convenient online poll.

The trailer for "Captain America" -- which gave us a glimpse at Chris Evans's transformation from soldier Steve Rogers to engineered superhero -- also amped up my curiosity a bit. But the trailer for "Thor," another Marvel title, was a little generic.

"Cowboys & Aliens" made good on its title's promise to show us both cowboys, as well as aliens, and the "Kung Fu Panda 2" trailer made my son giggie. So I guess that counts as a mission accomplished.

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