Tagline: “And, lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty … ”
Translation: Yo, ain’t our beast a beauty?
The gist: The first trailers for Peter Jackson’s $207 million spectacle were impressive but too comic, overplaying Jack Black’s shtick. This new, better trailer is darker and scarier. It stars Kong, not Black, and struts its FX stuff proudly, with about a dozen stunning action sequences, including (yes, finally) the view from the top of the Empire State Building. Now we’re excited.
Tagline: “A Stephen Spielberg Film.”
Translation: An Oscar-Hungry Film.
The gist: Mixing vintage news reports with vital shots of Spielberg’s new film, this powerhouse of a trailer is a brilliant setup, selling action, suspense, history, and moral dilemma. Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, and others look intense as Mossad agents on the track of the Black September terrorists responsible for the Munich Olympics murders. Remarkably, the trailer sells the action while also sounding complex moral chords. For example, in one shot, a Palestinian daughter of a terrorist is about to be killed by Mossad, and you may notice that she is wearing a red dress, echoing the nameless victim of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. This’ll be interesting.
Tagline: “1 Man, 1 Love, 1 Quest.”
Translation: We promise, it’s really not as complicated as it looks.
The gist: The trippy trailer from Pi director Darren Aronofsky skips 1,000 years in 30 seconds, setting up a big-budget time-travel romance. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz look stunning in various costumes, both Incan and futuristic, and the setup looks a bit Terry Gilliam–ish, but past that, it’s baffling. No doubt the film is thoughtful and complex, but the sell is too opaque.
Tagline: “I want everything I’ve ever seen in the movies!”
Translation: “We’ll give you everything you saw on Broadway!”
The gist: This is the movie based on the musical based on the movie, so it all looks very familiar, especially Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The sell works when it introduces the newcomers: Uma wears Ulla’s skimpy dress well, and as the crazy composer, Will Ferrell looks so ludicrous he just might steal the show.
Tagline: “The most incredible story of survival, friendship, and adventure ever told.”
Translation: Hey, we’re Disney. We don’t do understatement.
The gist: This is spectacular bombast, even for the Mouse House, and especially for a movie starring B-list action man Paul Walker (Timeline) as the leader of a team of sled dogs stranded in Antarctica. It all seems ludicrously overblown, but then again, Disney’s basically selling this as March of the Penguins: Dog Days.
Tagline: “Let the Ex-Games begin.”
Translation: Let’s hope this isn’t Jersey Girl.
The gist: Will Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston do better than Bennifer? Well, maybe Vaughn will. Featuring two ridiculous exes who remain roommates, this trailer plays up Vaughn’s motormouth deadpan—but completely eclipses Aniston, who is hardly onscreen. Universal is banking on Vaughn’s post– Wedding Crashers appeal, and since he’s funny here (and Aniston seems stiff), that seems smart.
V for Vendetta
Tagline: “An Uncompromising Vision of the Future.”
Translation: We compromised and pushed this film back to 2006 because it’s about a terrorist-hero in London.
The gist: Admirably, the trailer for this dark epic doesn’t shy away from the dark material—or strange costumes, complete with a silly Scream–meets–Phantom of the Opera mask, copied straight from the comics. That’s one element that should have been lost in the adaptation.