CYBERCRITIQUE: Movies hit high summer hype on online screen

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We at Cyber Critique headquarters don't get out much. But luckily, the Internet is the vehicle for us to catch all the hype for the summer movie season. Movie studios have led the pack in sinking development dollars into high-bandwidth sites; this season is no exception.

Producers, making widespread use of the toys within Macromedia's Flash technology, have put together some blowout sites. Here's a sample of some of the season's biggest hits and misses.

"Gladiator": It's rare that we get to use the description lavishly produced about a Web site (www.gladiator-thefilm.com). It's one of the first sites we've seen that feels like it needs to be watched on a big screen. Filled with sound and scenes, there's plenty to dig through. We especially like the film loops of people getting hacked with swords.

WHO CREATED IT: Bleu22studios, Los Angeles.

"A Perfect Storm": A good date movie site (www.perfectstorm.net), this one features a little something for everyone. The flick's about a fishing boat that went out to sea in the worst recorded storm ever. The site presents an in-depth documentation of the history of the fishing town, the culture, etc., using original content. For those of shorter attention spans, there's a cheesy-but-cool comparison of the size of a man vs. the waves that swamp the boat.

WHO CREATED IT: Warner Bros. Online, Burbank, Calif.

"Mission: Impossible 2": No John Woo two-fisted fury here. Although the site (www.missionimpossible.com) is interestingly multilingual and the home page plugs all sorts of cross-promotions, the so-called briefing is a lackluster news release that reveals shocking behind-the-scenes information such as "Paramount Pictures is part of the entertainment operations of Viacom Inc." In short, this site spends too much time on promotional tie-ins and fails to capture the movie's excitement.

WHO CREATED IT: 5555 Communications, a division of Paramount Pictures, and Pyro Advertising, Beverly Hills, Calif.

"Road Trip": We received a promotional CD-ROM (Windows-only) for this film (www.roadtrip-itsgood.com) that kept requiring us to download and install more and more pieces of software. When we realized the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow was Tom Green clips, we decided to give up.

WHO CREATED IT: Load Media Network, Hollywood, Calif.

"Battlefield Earth": This site (www.battlefieldearth.net) has a straightforward checklist of a trailer, cast biographies and a brief story synopsis. Unlike the movie, it's not bad enough to have a shot at being good.

WHO CREATED IT: Future Engine, Studio City, Calif.

"Where the Heart Is": Despite the desire to flee text that said we could "Click on the game squares to answer morality questions" about our lives, we persevered. Details about the movie appear between questions on the site (www.wheretheheartismovie.com), an interesting approach to developing a narrative outside the movie for the Glamour quiz-taking set.

WHO CREATED IT: Click Active Media, Santa Monica, Calif.

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