Tagline: “A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within.”
Translation: Mel Gibson, on what the fall of the Mayans can teach us about America.
The Gist: Sold as a kind of hyperbolic end-days rhapsody, Apocalypto features bloodthirsty Mayans who bear some resemblance to the ooga-booga natives of King Kong—seems like all they like to do is dance around fires and pose naked. It’s hard to take seriously—especially once you’ve heard that Gibson inserted a secret, single frame of himself (only visible when played slowly) grinning like a madman while standing next to a somber, exotic local. C’mon: Is that what Jesus would have done?
Mission: Impossible III
Tagline: “Welcome back, brother.”
Translation: You’ve seen Tom jump off a couch. Now see him jump off a freakin’ building!
The Gist: In the hands of J. J. Abrams (Alias, Lost), the franchise gets a tougher, less cartoonish feel, grounded by the psychotic baddie Philip Seymour Hoffman, who, amazingly, dominates the first half of the trailer. But when Tom Cruise finally appears—Bang! Boom! Bam!—he’s got all the fast cars, speedboats, and guns you’ll ever want. By far the best M:I trailer yet.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Tagline: “Captain Jack is back.”
Translation: Requisite sequel.
The Gist: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley are indeed all back— with many more explosions and special effects. The booming action looks fantastic, but will a bigger budget bring bigger laughs? Bloom’s as stiff as ever, and there’s no new actor or hook to give this some must-see punch.
Lady in the Water
Tagline: “A bedtime story.”
Translation: Another eerie fantasy from M. Night Shyamalan.
The Gist: Scored with symphonic strings and shot in sensitive slo-mo, as building super Paul Giamatti goes about his daily rituals and then discovers something mysterious in the pool. Giamatti’s hushed, terrified question at the end—“How many of you are there?”—is the only dialogue, and it caps an elegant, frightening sell.
Tagline: “I have sent them you, my only son.”
Translation: “We will remake every superhero, every one.”
The Gist: Bryan Singer’s remake aims for classic myth: no dark reinvention, no Smallville. This promises nothing but pure Americana iconography—the Kent farm, a Deco city rooftop, a godlike flash of sun—and damn if the new kid (Brandon Routh) doesn’t look a touch like Christopher Reeve. The logic seems right—leave the ultimate icon an icon—but beating the original at its own game is a huge gamble.
Tagline: “Smooth, that’s how we do it.”
Translation: “Smoothies, that’s how chunky Colin Farrell did it.”
The Gist: Yes, Jamie Foxx looks great in his lightweight suits, and yes, Farrell’s husky—but not to ill effect. It’s his bit of dialogue (“Verboten”?) that’s preposterous. Meanwhile, the soundtrack—Jay-Z and Linkin Park—actually cues images to match lyrics like “wave” and “Boeing jets.” The full effect: a video on MTV2.
The Da Vinci Code
Tagline: “The biggest cover-up in human history.”
Translation: Maybe you’ve read the book?
The Gist: Assuming that everyone knows the plot, the trailer introduces the cast: Tom Hanks, check. Audrey Tautou, check. Ian McKellen, check. But the hysterically bizarre albino monk Paul Bettany already looks as if he may go down in history as one of film’s weirdest bad guys. Between the hokum—“a secret that … would devastate the very foundations of mankind”—and his haircut, this preview is so far over the top, it’s hard not to giggle.