Letters from Iwo Jima (Dec. 20) How unusual is this trailer for Clint Eastwood’s second take on the Battle of Iwo Jima, this time from the Japanese perspective? First, it actually has subtitles, a rarity in American movie trailers. Second, it doesn’t shy away from the harsh fact that, even for a war film, this ain’t a happy tale — 18,000 Japanese soliders died on the small Pacific island in just 36 days. Third, other than Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Batman Begins), virtually none of the other four above-the-title stars, all Japanese actors, will be familiar to U.S. audiences. And yet I’m more keen to see this film than I was to see Clint’s first Iwo Jima picture, Flags of Our Fathers. So good on Warner Bros. and DreamWorks for making such an honest trailer, and for deciding to release the film two months earlier than they’d originally planned — even if it is just to bolster the Oscar chances of the flagging Fathers.
Bridge to Terabithia (Feb. 2007) Words can’t express how meaningful Katherine Paterson’s award winning young-adult novel Bridge to Terabithia was to my childhood. It is an exquisitely calibrated, human-scaled, heartrending story of young friendship, class, faith and the power of creativity and imagination. What it is decidedly not, however, is a Harry Potter’s The Fellowship of Narnia fantasy, but that’s precisely what this trailer (pictured) makes the long-anticipated film version of the book out to be. Because I’m pretty sure there aren’t any freaky gold-hat-wearing menacing muskrats in the book, let alone giant walking tree monsters. I’m willing to reserve judgment until I can see more of what’s in store in this film, but I gotta say, the fourth grader inside me just died a little inside.
Epic Movie(Jan. 26, 2007) Speaking of completely unnecessary fantasy moviemash-ups, the trailer for this genre parody — written by the same "twoof the six writers of Scary Movie" who also wrote this year’s laugh-an-hour Date Movie — references, by my count, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Snakes on a Plane, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Superman Returns, and (sigh) Borat. Setting aside for the moment that I’m not exactly sure how any of these films, other than maybe Narnia, could really be called an "epic" — what does a film buff gotta do to get a good Lawrence of Arabiagag nowadays? — the more important news is I didn’t even come close tocracking a smile during this trailer. That is, until I scrolled downand realized just how much of a fool’s bargain it is to post a movietrailer "exclusively" on a user-comment-friendly website like MySpace.My personal favorite comment comes from a dude named Raul, whoseprofile picture — a Stormtrooper reading a magazine on the can — isalready funnier than anything in the Epic Movie preview: "This trailer made me sterile and killed my goldfish." I feel your pain, Raul. I feel your pain.