In a world where summer-blockbuster trailers are bigger than ever, one site is grading them all. For a single, heart-stopping moment, an ordinary writer becomes a hero, with a list 65 million years in the making.
It’s been called a “life-affirming tale of the can-do American spirit” (Larry Carroll, MTV News). If you read only one trailer-grading list this year, make it this one! Nothing could ever prepare you for what awaits.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
In a world where … Lord Voldemort has returned to steal a prophecy about Harry Potter.
Hyperbolic billing: Oddly, none. But then again, about 18 billion copies of “Harry Potter” books have been sold. How much buildup do you need?
Geek-ism: The Ministry of Magic! Dumbledore’s Army! Bellatrix Lestrange! It looks like Warner Bros. might continue to outdo itself translating the books with perfect casting and brilliant set design.
Best line: Trying to shut his mind to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, Harry screams, “I’m not weak,” to which Professor Snape replies, “Then prove it!” Alan Rickman, you are delicious.
Surprise!: An extended flight through London has been added. (Too close to muggles to really happen, of course.)
Verdict: More a teaser than a proper trailer. All setup and no payoff.
Trailer grade: C
“Shrek the Third”
In a world where … Prince Charming attempts a palace coup while Shrek searches for the true king.
Hyperbolic billing: “The wait is ogre” for a “whole new chapter of the greatest fairy tale never told.”
Geek-ism: Talk about a Snow job. The princess formerly known as Miss White persuades a group of forest critters to take out a group of evil Ents by singing Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
Best line: Keep your Donkey and your Puss in Boots — we’ll take Gingy every time. The Gingerbread Man says to Prince Charming: “The only thing you’re ever going to be king of is King of the Stupids.”
Surprise!: Fiona and Shrek are having a baby.
Verdict: If you liked “Shrek” and “Shrek 2″ …
Trailer grade: C+
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”
In a world where … pirate lords from all corners of the earth fight for ultimate control of the oceans.
Hyperbolic billing: “They know they face extinction. All that remains is where they make their final stand.”
Geek-ism: “Captain Jack will get you high tonight!” As in, to the top of his ship’s mast … where he battles Davy Jones in a sword fight.
Best line: Jack Sparrow, after chaining himself to a firing canon and being called “mad”: “If I wasn’t, this’d probably never work.”
Surprise!: The monkey is funnier than Jack in the trailer.
Verdict: After a minor letdown with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” — which was a bridge between movies more than anything — some of the set pieces here look beyond fantastical.
Trailer grade: B
In a world where … Peter Parker must face three new villains (Venom, Sandman and the new Green Goblin) to save NYC.
Hyperbolic billing: “All that he loves will be threatened by what he will become.”
Geek-ism: Hanging upside down from a building, Spidey’s new black outfit is reflected in the window as his more familiar red-and-blue one.
Best line: Harry Osborn as the new Green Goblin after attacking Peter: “You knew this was coming, Pete.”
Surprise!: Peter and Mary Jane are getting married.
Verdict: While not as good as the trailer for “Spiderman 2,” the man they call “amazing” has more than a few awesome moves left, it seems. And the newly introduced characters Eddie Brock, Gwen Stacy and Venom look strong.
Trailer Grade: B+
“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”
In a world where … all of Earth is threatened with the arrival of the Silver Surfer, herald of Galactus, devourer of planets.
Hyperbolic billing: What, “devourer of planets” isn’t enough for you?
Geek-ism: The Silver Surfer. Period.
Best line: Johnny Storm at the Fantastic wedding, right before turning into the Human Torch: “I just bought this tux.”
Surprise!: The Surfer kills Johnny?
Verdict: Count us among those who were underwhelmed by “Fantastic Four.” The new trailer’s innovative showcase of one lengthy scene (rather than a teasing synopsis), however, has us jazzed.
Trailer Grade: A+
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
In a world where … super-spy Jason Bourne continues to search for clues to his past.
Hyperbolic billing: “His identity stolen. His loved ones murdered. His past destroyed …”
Geek-ism: Chase sequences have always been a “Bourne” series high point. This time the action gets kicked up a notch with Bourne on a motorbike.
Best line: Pamela Landy: “Sit down, strap in and turn on all your data. This is Jason Bourne.”
Surprise!: They somehow, once again, found a role for Julia Stiles.
Verdict: Way too much of the trailer is footage from the series’ previous two flicks. The new footage is confusing and offers little insight into the new chapter’s story line.
Trailer grade: D
In a world where … everything we know and love will soon be underwater!
Hyperbolic billing: “Throughout history, the Almighty has appeared unto a very few — next summer, He will choose a new prophet.”
Geek-ism: Steve Carell drinking coffee with two monkeys had us laughing for 40 days and 40 nights.
Best line: Evan screams loudly when God first appears in his car. God: “Let it out, son, it’s the beginning of wisdom.”
Surprise!: Carell’s got a beard to rival Noah.
Verdict: Carell was the best part of “Bruce Almighty.” It looks like he’ll have ample opportunity to shine in this quasi-sequel.
Trailer grade: A
In a world where … a rat joins a nebbish sous-chef to become the greatest cook in Paris.
Hyperbolic billing: “From the studio that brought you [every great animated film of the last decade], prepare for an adventure that really cooks.”
Geek-ism: The beauty is in the details. Check out the opening shot of the Parisian skyline, or the way Remy’s chest beats frantically while he’s in the jar.
Best line: “Stay away from the humans, it’s dangerous. Now shut up and eat your garbage.”
Surprise!: Not a single Frenchman surrenders in the entire trailer.
Verdict: Like a great French wine, Pixar seems to be getting better with age.
Trailer grade: A
Check out everything we’ve got on “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Shrek the Third,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Evan Almighty” and “Ratatouille.”
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