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Movie hype hits the Internet

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Movie hype hits the Internet

Now playing on a computer screen near you: movie previews. Always seeking new ways to plug their big summer releases, studios are plugging into the Internet’s World Wide Web. And while a few sites are strictly low-budget — offering just star bios, stills, and production notes — others unveil something extra.

Batman Forever
A slick black question mark lures the curious into a storehouse of photos and information about the Caped Crusader’s latest adventure. The site distinguishes itself with a short yet challenging game (à la the Riddler) and a gimmick whereby characters respond to real E-mail with non sequiturs: When asked why he joined forces with Batman, Robin replied, ”I’m part of this whether you like it or not.” Holy attitude! B+

Casper
The friendliest ghost also boasts the liveliest website. While details about the cast, crew, and making of the movie can be accessed separately, they also have been spun into a ghost-chasing game filled with animated spirits and footage and sound bites from the film. A

Congo
This jungle journey invites adventurers into a control room that features characters from the movie and offers access to the expedition. In addition to a thicket of production notes, it provides links to technological and ecological sites on the Net, as well as info on Africa’s endangered mountain gorillas. It’s not just a promotional tool, it’s an education. B+

First Knight
All expenses must have been spared for this underfurnished cyber-Camelot that’s not fit to promote Bea Arthur. Visitors will find a two-sentence synopsis of the movie, a single photograph (of Richard Gere and Sean Connery), a short list of cast and crew members, and a 16-second trailer — which takes about 10 minutes to download. C-

Judge Dredd
You won’t find details about the production, cast, or crew in DreddSpace. Instead, this limited site features a simplistic diagram of the futuristic lawman’s armor and weaponry and includes a downloadable trailer and photo of star Sylvester Stallone. At least it offers an intriguing game in which players hunt down ”punk” hoodlums Sly-style. Fans unaccustomed to depth will not be disappointed. C

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