This is the teaser trailer for the Spielberg/Cruise extravaganza War of the Worlds. It looks okay. Creepy in that slick Spielberg kind of way.
And this is my transcript of the voice-over from the trailer:
No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. That as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of their empire over this world. Yet, across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck? Who the hell is responsible for this mangled train wreck of prose, this random assortment of words the writer barely seems to understand? Did a foreigner write it and run it through a computerized translator?
Where to even begin? How about the first sentence?
“No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own.”
First of all, what does this mean? Does this mean that we’ve always been watched, but in the early years of the 21st century no one would have believed this, or does it mean that it was only in the early years of the 21st century that we were being watched? If it’s the latter, then moving the word “that” from after “century” to after “believed” would clarify it a lot. If it’s the former, rewrite the sentence. Furthermore, “intelligences”? Ugh.
“That as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied.”
“They” observed and studied? Who, the men? I know what they’re referring to, but this is sloppy and confusing use of a pronoun, which forces you to spend more effort parsing than you should have to. “Busied themselves about … their concerns”? How about “thought about” or “busied themselves with”? “Busied about” sounds bizarre.
“With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of their empire over this world.”
“Infinite complacency”? Shut the fuck up. Just shut the fuck up and stop using big words to sound smart. With infinite complacency. La dee da. We must be awfully fucking complacent. Like, complacent to infinity! “To and fro”? Is that necessary? Oh, and we mustn’t say “around” the globe. “About” sounds like how a smart guy would say it. Look at me, going to and fro about the globe! This wouldn’t be so glaring if they hadn’t just misused the word “about.” “Their empire over this world”? Only by the most generous standard is this clumsy use of the word “empire” remotely acceptable. And that’s infinite generosity.
“Yet, across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
“Envious eyes”? Was “envy” not good enough on its own? “Slowly and surely” oddly deviates from the usual pairing of these words, “slowly but surely,” but here they’re just used to slow down the voice over guy so he can sound more ominous. As for the rest of the sentence, there’s nothing really wrong with it except that I hate it.
I know, I know, it’s just a movie trailer voice-over, and I’m being overly nit-picky. And if it were a trailer for Seriously, Dude, Where’s My Car? and they didn’t use complete sentences, I wouldn’t give a shit. But when they’re trying so hard to sound smart, laying on the pretension with meaningless phrases like “infinite complacency” and then they write sentences with backward syntax that make no sense at all, that’s when people get hurt.