EW Online rates the studios' cyber battle for box office green

Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible 2

Spring, schming. It’s already summer on the Internet, thanks to movie studios’ eagerness to begin plugging their warm weather blockbusters months (and even years) before they hit theaters. EW Online takes a look at the winners, the losers, and the sites that may even be better than the movies they’re meant to promote.

MOVIE Mission Impossible 2
HIGH POINT Not only do you get to hear a rockin’ version of the ”MI” theme, you get your own FBI agent identity, complete with access to communiqués, a database of trailers and screen savers, and your very own avatar whose face, while a little creepy, can be customized by increasing the width of the lips and nose as well as the hair and eye color. ”Agent training” games offer winners a chance to win ”MI” merchandise, or just drive themselves crazy pointing and clicking through simple tasks like repairing a satellite circuit board by moving yellow circles, blue rods, and red squares into matching spots on a grid. Who knew being in the FBI felt so much like factory work?
LOW POINT A cheesy retina scan is used to hold your interest while the site uploads, and good luck remembering your number-jumbled assigned password and ID codes.

MOVIE Titan A.E.
HIGH POINT The site for this animated movie about what happens after earth is blown to bits focuses on a community-building game in which players create their own spaceships, recruit a crew, and prepare to battle their enemy, the creepy Drej.
LOW POINT Maintaining a spaceship may be more work than fun. Every time you log on, prepare to be warned that ”defense shields have been penetrated,” which starts to be more annoying than dramatic; plus, the whooshing sound of spaceship engines — which is played on a constant loop — can induce an urge to use the bathroom. Though the site looks cool, it’s not so easy to navigate, you have to register to play, and there’s little info about the actual movie. Then again, how much do you need to know about a monster spaceship flick?

HIGH POINT Though the site is under construction, there are still some choice goodies to hold your attention. After you watch the trailer, visit mutantwatch, a faux campaign website for Senator Kelly, an antimutant crusader (and ”X-Men” foe). Featuring all the overblown rhetoric and patriotic cheese of a real campaign, the site provides articles about recent mutant activity, a genetic purity test (brace yourself for failure — it’s a good thing), and, best of all, lets you narc on your mutated friends and coworkers. Bush and Gore should be so lucky.
LOW POINT Once you link to mutantwatch, getting back to the original site is nearly impossible. Also, the site requires that users register and tries to hold your interest with, yup, a retina scan.

MOVIE Lord of the Rings
IN THEATERS To Be Determined
HIGH POINT ”Lord of the Rings” geeks, unite! Instead of luring fans with games and doodads (though there is a customized browser to download), the lo-fi site focuses on bringing ”LOTR” lovers together through private clubs and chats. Fans can also submit questions to director Peter Jackson and listen to live reports from the set.
LOW POINT The film is currently being shot in New Zealand, so you’ll have to wait for trailers. Unfortunately, the site has a tendency to crash (and freeze your computer along with it), so proceed with Tolkien-like patience.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 178 minutes
  • Peter Jackson