Tagline: “The Zodiac killer has come to San Francisco.”
Translation: David Fincher has returned to serial killers.
The Gist: This trailer has the tough job of promoting Zodiac as something more than a simple cop show or horror flick. It succeeds with a sell that’s part Se7en, part Capote. The violence is as stylized as you might expect from Fincher, and Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Robert Downey Jr. all look believable in seventies sideburns. The sense of period dread is driven by the unexpectedly foreboding beat of Rod Stewart’s “(I Know) I’m Losing You.”
Balls of Fury
Tagline: “Evil gets served.”
Translation: Dodgeball: The Unofficial Sequel.
The Gist: Putnam County Spelling Bee champ Dan Fogler makes his leading-man debut in a more-deadly competition: a sudden-death Ping-Pong match, refereed by the evil Mr. Feng (Christopher Walken, in ludicrous chinoiserie). The jokes veer from the dumb-funny (Fogler defeating a child) to the already-spoofed (Mr. Miyagi jokes, 22 years after The Karate Kid). But the trailer smartly showcases Fogler, whose Belushi-esque chops could make him a Hollywood star.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Tagline: “The evidence of the dark lord’s return is incontrovertible.”
Translation: Voldemort’s Empire Strikes Back.
The Gist: The booming soundtrack and military percussion score this fantastic trailer with a dark, gothic sound. And director David Yates (no visual artiste) is aided by the brilliant Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak (Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Gattaca), who catches a frightening shot of broom-riding wizards zipping past Parliament, and a shadowy kiss between Harry and a mysterious dark-haired girl.
Tagline: “Beatrix Potter saw the world differently.”
Translation: We had a Most Forgettable Pitch competition. This won.
The Gist: MGM and the Weinstein Company haven’t figured out how to sell the rather uncontroversial life of Beatrix Potter, so instead they’ve upholstered it in the tasteful style of period romance (pairing Renée Zellweger and a mustachioed Ewan McGregor). The studio should have foregrounded the humor, and pushed Zellweger’s return to a British accent as Bridget Jones 3.
Tagline: “You are the real thing—America’s Next It Girl.”
Translation: Before Paris there was Edie.
The Gist: Weinstein sells the Factory days as a Warhol-Edie-Quinn (a Dylanesque figure) love triangle, with Sienna Miller caught between soullessness (Warhol) and idealism (Quinn). But would Andy (played by Guy Pearce as a hepcat in whiteface) approve of this unstylish trailer? Even he might have cringed at the corny faux-Warholian video effects that turn faces into silkscreens.