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Trailer Trash: a quick tour of the latest movie previews.

By Coury Turczyn

DECEMBER 15, 1997:  So here I am in the Swiss Alps conducting (well, participating in) a group interview with superstar Tom Arnold about his latest big-budget sequel—The Stupids Go To Switzerland. (Hey, this is vital entertainment information that Knoxvillians need to know—and I'm willing to take overseas press junkets to get it.) Suddenly, just as Tom was elaborating on why he's so personally moved by the sunlight of St. Moritz, I realized something: Criminy! I write movie reviews for a living! Can I possibly get away with not writing one for a whole month?

Comforted by the fact that none of the readers would actually notice, I nevertheless decided to write one just in case any of my bosses remembered why I was on the payroll. Hurriedly, I called my staff of crack entertainment writers back in Knoxville to find out what the latest movie releases were. Unfortunately, they were all on vacation (They're so overworked covering for each other, they each have to take a week off at least once a month). Finally, I got through to the substitute night-shift copy editor in charge of wire photo captions and comics thought-bubbles, and learned the sad truth: no new movies had been released last weekend.

Now I was really in trouble—I didn't even have a plot synopsis to rewrite at length. What to do? Then it occurred to me: movie previews! They take up space, don't they? Sure they do! So here, then, is a review of the movie preview trailers I've seen lately.


Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

What We See: The entire damn movie. How many surprises can be left in James Cameron's $200 million wonder when he tells the whole story in under three minutes? There's cute li'l Leonardo getting on board the Titanic for its maiden voyage—he's in steerage, but by jiminy he's just happy to be there! Then there's the fragile, upper-class beauty Kate. He saves her from jumping off the ship, and they soon fall in love. Her haughty fiancé does not approve—and he's willing to get violent about it. But suddenly: Iceberg ho! The Titanic begins to sink. People scurry and yell a lot, then go flying through the air as the ship capsizes. Everybody dies, except Kate, who reappears as an old woman in the present day.

Interest Piqued? Nope. Like a magician giving away his best tricks, Cameron shows us all his digital wonders before actually releasing the movie. The only reason left to see it is to try and figure out where the $200 million went.


Cast: William Hurt

What We See: A spectral city enveloped in darkness. A chanteuse in a slinky dress singing in a nightclub. Some guy running around frantically. Then: Keifer Sutherland in funny goggles! As Nine-Inch-Nails-ish music throbs, things speed up to MTV levels: weird feral kids with black eyes, fellows in dark suits floating alongside an alley, a big machine thingy...

Interest Piqued? Absolutely. I have no idea what this movie is about, but it certainly looks cool. This means there's a 50/50 chance that it'll actually have a story to go along with the lovely imagery. I will remain naively optimistic until I read the first review.


Cast: Kevin Costner, Will Patton

What We See: Kevin wearing rustic post-Apocalypse gear and riding a horsey. Many speeches about America. Bad guy Patton screaming about war. Some guy getting shot while delivering the mail. Wistful looks from the female co-star as Kevin strikes his heroic poses. No, this is not a remake of Il Postino.

Interest Piqued? Not in the least. This looks like Dances With Wolves meets Waterworld, and how exciting can that be? Only Kevin Costner would revisit a dead genre he personally buried—and make the hero a mailman. I can barely stand the excitement.


Cast: Gary Oldman, William Hurt

What We See: A round spaceship flying about. A big, mean-looking robot. A family of astronauts in cool space suits. Dark, moody alien terrain. Oldman looking pissed before he blows something up.

Interest Piqued? Sort of. Instead of seizing on the original series' camp value, the movie looks more like an Alien sequel with lots of high-tech equipment and dimly-lit sets. It's a telling moment when the biggest audience reaction comes from something that will assuredly not be in the movie: a voice-over from the original Robot yelling "Danger, Will Robinson!"


Cast: Large, atomic-fire-breathing lizard

What We See: The interior of a natural history museum as a group is being lead through the dinosaur exhibit. People gaze at the wondrous tyrannosaur skeleton. Suddenly, a giant foot crashes down through the roof, smashing the dino to little teeny bits. Close-up of a giant green eyeball. Aiiiyyyeeee-HAAWWWWW!

Interest Piqued? Bring it on, buddy! Godzilla probably eats raptors for a light lunch. This scene does everything a trailer should do: Gets you interested in seeing the movie and doesn't tell you every detail of the plot from beginning to end. Now this is what big budgets were meant for.

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