I went to see September Dawn this afternoon, along with a several dozen people nationwide. As is my regular practice (e.g., with 300 and Spiderman 3), I’ve written reviews of trailers shown before the film rather then of the film itself.

Halloween: This is arguably the least cogent trailer produced in the last several years. It utilizes the montage-style to present a series of disjointed, and mostly dark, visual images dominated by a psychopathic creep in a cheesy, latex mask. The images are, on the whole, mildly repugnant and seem intentionally designed to prompt indifference, if not a slight aversion, to actually seeing the film. The tag line proclaims a “unique vision” of a “legendary tale,” but the trailer offers no evidence of originality. And those who actually remember the tale of the original 1978 Halloween will attest to its utter lack of legendary status. Wasn’t the trailer for the original movie bad enough? Why make another? Skip this trailer.

In the Valley of Elah: This trailer tells the story of a father who must solve the murder of his son, an Iraq War veteran murdered shortly after returning stateside. Unfortunately, it offers viewers no reasons to even care about the murder. On the contrary, the cliche voice-overs (like “You’re a good Father; you don’t have to prove you loved him” and “You shouldn’t send heroes to places like Iraq”) and the annoyingly manipulative background music render this trailer predictable and bland. Furthermore, given the number of dramatic close-ups in the trailer, it appears that the director thinks he can create cinematic profundity solely through the careful framing of facial expressions. He is, of course, wrong. And the result screams, “Boring!” This is another trailer worth skipping.

Beowulf: This is the 21st Century cinematic debut of the only literary classic that Woody Allen actually advised against reading. Likewise, I’m comfortable advising against seeing this trailer. It treats its viewers to some of the worst computer generated graphics in recent memory. And the only narrative it contains is about a big-lipped, naked succubus (played by Angelina Jolie) who tempts Beowulf. Seriously, that’s it. Very strange stuff here.

The Kingdom: A terrorist attack on the US military compound in Saudi Arabia prompts a special FBI team to travel to Saudi Arabia to investigate. Jamie Fox, who leads the team, is among the most credible leading man for 21st century action films with a serious plot. And Chris Cooper’s cynic-with-a-smile persona steels every scene he appears in. This trailer was the oasis in the desert of poor preview material for today’s movie. Watch this trailer, and tell your friends to watch it.