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The Pre-Show Show

Our reviews of this week’s previews.

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Elektra
Tagline: “From the forces that brought you X-Men.”
Translation: Please forget about Elektra’s debut in Daredevil.
The Gist: Movies released in January—the burial season for flops—face an uphill battle. Especially a superhero spin-off from such a horrid original, and especially since Elektra died in that film. So the focus here is on martial arts, highlighting a well-cast Terence Stamp as a Limey sensei—but misdirection is just not enough. We know what you did last winter.

Sin City
Tagline: “Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything.”
Translation: Sexy actors in weird costumes.
The Gist: If you’re looking past January, there’s no better trailer than this one for Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s comics series, opening April 1. It showcases intense, inky visuals—and the spring’s best cast: Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Maria Bello, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Clive Owen. The sexiest trailer since Closer’s.

Hostage
Tagline: “From this point on, you control what happens to them.”
Translation: Here he (Bruce Willis) comes to save the day!
The Gist: The pitch-meeting math must have veered into calculus: Panic Room x Die Hard / Cellular + Blood Money to the Waco-th power. But the multiple plot points are overwhelming—instead, this preview should have focused on Willis’s return as another Army of One.

Hide and Seek
Tagline: “It’s not unusual for a child to create imaginary friends.”
Translation: Boo!
The Gist: Dakota Fanning, always preternaturally mature, finally goes creepy—with a Wednesday Addams haircut—in another one of those kids-see-ghosts films. There’s little new here, with a wise shrink, a stiff dad (Robert De Niro), and clichéd dialogue.

Racing Stripes
Tagline: “Cheer till you’re horse!”
Translation: Whoa!
The Gist: Talking-animal kids’ movies come with certain expectations. And a cast including Dustin Hoffman and Joe Pantoliano isn’t usually one of them. Highlighting a surprising roster—Jeff Foxworthy as a rooster, Snoop Dogg as a lazy dog—this trailer makes a funny sell with a kid-friendly mix of low-concept zingers and warm-and-fuzzy father-daughter bonding.

Coach Carter
Tagline: “Are you some preacher man?”
Translation: Samuel L. Jackson, starring as Dr. Phil.
The Gist: Uplift on the basketball court, delivered by Jackson, who uses his Jedi powers to utter boilerplate like “I came to teach boys and you became men.” To which the delinquents say things like “We’re going to finish what you started, sir.” Guys, maybe quitting isn’t such a bad thing after all.


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