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The Pre-Show Show

Our reviews of this week’s previews.

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(Photo credit: Courtesy of Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith
Tagline: [Deep, unmistakably raspy breath.]
Translation: Back in black, Vader is.
The gist: The last two trailers were better than the actual films, but this one’s pitch-perfect. Alec Guinness’s narration nicely connects the original to this final chapter. We see stunning action sequences: armies of Wookies, old-school spaceship dogfights, no clones, and an evil Hayden Christensen. Lucas seems to have kept the original Vader suit intact. And Natalie Portman even tries out Princess Leia’s Cinnabon haircut.

White Noise
Tagline: “The subject of some movies is so disturbing that those who experience them will never be the same again.”
Translation: We’re desperate.
The gist: For a horror film buried in January, flat-out lies like “What you’re about to hear is real” may be more honest than the half-truths of most trailers. (And it worked for Blair Witch.) But the dialogue is more laughable than scary: “It is one thing to contact the dead! It is another to meddle! And you are meddling!”

Phantom of the Opera
Tagline: “A Joel Schumacher Film.”
Translation: Remember Batman & Robin ? the gist: Lovely Emmy Rossum, a former Met Opera singer, seems well cast as the ingenue—but she’s no star. To gloss over the film’s utter lack of celebrities, the trailer is a staccato barrage of quick cuts—so many, it should be preceded by a warning rather than a rating: May induce seizures.

Spanglish
Tagline: “From James L. Brooks—the Academy Award–winning director of Terms of Endearment.”
Translation: Cry, baby, cry.
The gist: Heartbreaking weepies are hard sells—even with Adam Sandler, and especially with a cheesy soundtrack that bleats “I’m going to show you love in every language.” It’s saved by one of Brooks’s acid one-liners, as Cloris Leachman tells her thirtysomething daughter (Téa Leoni), “Lately, your low-self esteem is just good common sense.”

Flight of the Phoenix
Tagline: “I always like to have a little something strapped to my lap.”
Translation: Guy movie.
The gist: The studio showcases the film’s entire FX budget—a spectacular plane crash!—but the plotting already looks confused: rebuilding an airplane? Scary nomads? A guy in an eye patch? And why is Giovanni Ribisi’s hair bleached blond?

Meet the Fockers
Tagline: “Memories.”
Translation: Remember when Ben Stiller was funny?
The gist: Streisand’s song strings together clips of Meet the Parents—then introduces Barbra and Dustin Hoffman as Stiller’s parents. Brilliant casting, but obvious gags (Hoffman on a toilet) remind us of Stiller’s weak recent history. The jury’s out.


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