Star Trek, Side Effects and Bridge to Terabithia pull the wool over viewer’s eyes.  Spoilers.

I remember seeing Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country as a movie first, either having not seen or never paid attention to the trailer before seeing it.  And I walked away with some questions about the part where Kirk and McCoy are helped in their escape from prison by a mysterious shapeshifter, who is actually part of a conspiracy to make sure they are killed while trying to escape.

When Kirk figures this all out, the shifter changes into a double of him for a fight scene, until the prison guards show up.  The two Kirks then bicker about which of them is the real one, before one of them (the shifter) is vaporized, so that there will be no witnesses.

So the first question is, why did the shifter turn into Kirk in order to fight Kirk?  Why not shift into something bigger and stronger, or quicker?  To confuse McCoy perhaps, except the doctor was kneeling over the shifter and was easily knocked senseless before the fight even begins.  And the bigger question, why on earth, or Rura Penthe, did the shifter not change shape once the guards showed up, instead of just shouting at the guards to kill the other Kirk?  Then I saw the trailer.  This was all done so that they could include a shot of Kirk being vaporized there, and freak everyone out that he would be killed off.  Bonus points for the film showing the two Kirk’s standing next to each other when the shifter is killed, but the trailer using a different shot showing just the one kirk being taken out. 

Side Effects is ultimately about a murder, which the guilty party tries to get away with by claiming to be suffering side effects from medication, while also getting rich through buying and selling the medication in question on the stock market.  Understandably, the trailer doesn’t reveal any of this, only presenting that medication side effects may have led to a murder.  Understandable, but perhaps unfortunate, as I suspect more people would have seen the movie if they knew the twist, and that it wasn’t actually about drug side effects.

But the real culprit of misleading trailers has to be Bridge to Terabthia.  Anyone who just saw the trailer and knew nothing about the original book would think it was just a new Harry Potter/Narnia/Spiderwick Chronicles story, about kids finding their way to a fantasy world.  The thing is, the characters only imagine finding a fantasy world, and it’s actually a wrenching emotional contemporary story.  I wonder if any parents took their kids to what they thought was going to be a fun adventure movie, only for them to be traumatized by the actual movie!

Published by Andrew Clendening