Trailer Mash

Charlize Theron meets lesser beings in our weekly review of opening films based solely on their previews

Back in 1979, Roger Corman's Piranha was a tribute to Jaws and bikinis. Low budget and proud of it, this was a guilty pleasure that had to be sought out by those in the mood for cheerful sleaze. With its fashionable eco message about the dangers of water pollution, you could even persuade your date that you were watching social commentary. Scroll forward to 2010. Thanks to the Internet, anyone in the mood for sleaze, cheerful or otherwise, could now watch nothing else until his or her eyeballs turned to ash. But not in 3D. Not big, filled bikinis on a big screen in 3D. And lo, the unholy union of human punch lines Jerry O'Connell, Kelly Brook and Ving Rhames was brought forth to provide the infantile plot mechanics by which girls in bikinis could become piranha meat. In 3D. In Piranha 3D. But the world did not look down on this moment in shame, shake its head wearily and, chastened, move on to pursue higher and more worthwhile callings. No. It doubled down. Thus, Piranha 3DD. Check those Mayan calendars again, why don't you.

Cats. All over the internet. And there's also A Cat in Paris, a frisky French animation about a cat burglar, his feline sidekick and a girl looking for a father figure. It's a recipe that could go horribly wrong, but even in the space of this brief trailer, you may find yourself swallowing a lump or two. Looks properly funny, is quite beautiful in an elegant, understated way, but is only available in Canada this week. After all, who would want to dilute the American appetite for animation when it will be required to feed the bloated merchandising monolith that is Madagascar 3 (is it really only three?) when it opens next week. 

Besides the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, Rupert Murdoch's Tory government, the death spiral of the European economy and the weather, the British talk about nothing these days other than Scandinavian detective shows. The Killing, The Bridge, and most popular of all, Wallander have all been welcomed into British homes with warmth and fondness by a nation insatiable for blood stains on snow. Now, it's America's turn, and for the slow of thinking, the trailer for Wallander the movie has one message that it pile-drives into us over and over again: This is not a Lisbeth Salander movie. No Girls with Dragon Tattoos here. No Stieg Larssons. For what will be a dry and sophisticated crime movie, it's a pretty blunt message. Like being clobbered around the back of the head with an icicle. Maybe that's the point. That and reassuring you there will definitely be blood and cigarette smoking.

Chely Wright, a country singer, lovely voice, is gay. Came out right in the middle of the Today show. As glamorous as hairspray and a spangled Stars and Stripes, the trailer for Wish Me Away doesn't step back from illustrating just how un-gay the country-music audience largely is. There's even a church person ruefully offering the line "There's nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus." That's pretty well it, other than a lot of shots of Chely peering, reality-doc style, into a diary cam as she counts down the days until the Today show.

"You want me to make an army out of a group of ragtag peasants?" Yes, Andy Garcia, that is exactly what we want you to do in For Greater Glory, the story of the Mexican civil war of the 1920s told in classic retro-movie-history style. Even Lawrence of Arabia's Peter O'Toole pops up to remind you of classic cinematic uprisings by the people against their autocratic godless leaders. If that all sounds a little like a statement on contemporary politics, be reassured that the dialogue at least never rises above "I've never had a son, but if I did, I'd want him to be just like you."

Is the United Nations, to use the old cliché, fit for purpose? In U.N. Me, one Ami Horowitz, a fast-talking fellow in a sharp suit, wanders the halls of U.N. Plaza pointing out the lack of any work being done and highlighting the irony of an organization dedicated to fighting terrorism that is unable to define what terrorism is. Lots of "What the?" facts and figures, though nothing can match the recent appointment by the United Nations World Tourism Office of Robert Mugabe as International Tourism Ambassador. Perhaps they meant to say Terrorism Ambassador. In reaction to this news, Canada withdrew from the UNWTO.

Charlize Theron is the fairest of them all. That's pretty much all there is to it. Kristen Stewart is a fine looking kid with great hair and a lucrative pout, and in this trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, from superstar commercial director Rupert Sanders (Axe "Angels Will Fall," etc.), an exemplary, modern, sword-swinging heroine. But up against Charlize? What is that mirror on about? Every shot of her is an acknowledgment that there are superior versions of human beings on this earth, and that Charlize is their uncrowned queen. Fortunately, we are pulled back from being driven to madness in the face of her beauty by the voiceover. Charlie's stab at Queen's English is so off that it sounds as though someone stuck her bottom teeth in upside down. It's the worst English accent since Russell Crowe's cacophony of dialects in Robin Hood. But it's not the worst accent in this trailer. A little later on, Thor shows up and attempts a Scottish accent so poor that James Doohan's ashes will be spinning in the firmament. Compound this racket with what seems to be another plodding sub-Hans Zimmer score from James Howard Newton, and you get the sense that Snow White and the Huntsman is a fabulous silent movie in the making, at least according to this trailer.