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Posterized April 2014: ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’, ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Transcendence’ & More

Written by on April 1, 2014 

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably.


April has a lot of movies coming out stateside and so many have decided to sell themselves on their star. Dom Hemingway (limited April 2), Alan Partridge (limited April 4), and Draft Day (April 11) simply put the face front and center. Joe (limited April 11), Only Lovers Left Alive (limited April 11), and The Other Woman (April 25) throw a few characters together to stare back at you and beg for money. And one word can describe them all: boring.

I’m not saying the posters that follow are necessarily better, the definition of good, or even worth looking at, but at least they all have a story, intrigue, or excitement about them. What’s the point of having designers if you just want faces? At least floating head sheets need Photoshop skills to meld it together; the above just a camera and a font. Kevin Costner‘s face isn’t going to stand out from the crowd when every other poster is another familiar celebrity shilling for the studio.

Parody and integration

Yes, I know Marlon Wayans is doing just that with his posters series for A Haunted House 2 (April 18), but he has fun with it. Not the kind of fun I necessarily enjoy having, but that Scary Movie kind where a big grin goes a long way with the masses. A spoof film marketed with spoof posters? You can’t go wrong.

Ignition Print did it with Madea’s Big Happy Family for whatever reason popped in their head to think parodying Oscar contenders would be a viable way to promote a cross-dressing comedy, and here we are. The idea actually makes sense with Wayans’ newest enterprise and kudos to Concept Arts for taking a couple popular horror flicks and paying homage. The tagline catchphrases are crude and stupid for the most part, but I do enjoy “Based on true events that never actually happened”. For some reason that tickles my fancy.

I’m not sure if Cuban Fury (limited April 11) has more than this Flashdance joke (I haven’t found any), but I hope they did. When you have a guy like Nick Frost willing to put himself in these comedic situations without shame, you should go big. Because honestly, the poster with Rashida Jones separating him and Chris O’Dowd is as lame as the ones I mentioned in my opening paragraph. We know those three are in the movie, thanks for the obvious.

At least the main sheet with Frost and his dancing partner posing against a white background has his goofy idea of “determined” forcing us to stare into his crazy eyes. But I guess that has more to do with his ability to earn a laugh than the designer’s work. I know nothing about the film, am clueless to the Cuban connection considering the Brits at the lead are far from that nationality, but you know it will probably be at the very least a good time after checking out the artwork. And that’s a success.

I’d like to say the same about Concept Art’s Transcendence (April 17) advert, but there is something about this film that irks me. The trailer is convoluted at best with a ton of star power and a sprawling plot of futuristic computer tech and this teaser does little to pique interest either. I appreciate the fact they didn’t put Johnny Depp‘s mug front and center (although you can see they did with the next one), but it’s almost too abstract and mysterious to care.

Yes, it seems to concern a hybridization of organic tissue and silicon (but not in the Baywatch definition of the pairing) and we get that with the nicely glowing blue microchips against black silhouette. All those empty panels/floors/balconies/glass panes/ what? unfortunately only make me think of some sort of warp speed motion to the center thanks to its perspective. As a result I conjure memories of The Matrix, place pods of sleeping people on each, and imagine Depp’s Neo 2.0 is waking up to the injustice. I hate to say it but I need more.

So, the classic example of minimalism for this section lies with Hateship Loveship (limited April 11). Not only does the floral wallpaper fit perfectly with Kristen Wiig‘s dress (just a hair of difference in hue and pattern to not be Zach Braff in Garden State), but the color palette of the text also matches to keep everything homogenized. Some of the words really make you look close to catch them while others use the same color in a heavier saturation to grab attention. Just like the quote from The Hollywood Reporter heaping praise on Wiig says: it’s a beautifully restrained design.

America likes its Captains in masks

When you look at what BLT Communications, LLC did for Captain America: The First Avenger, I’m not really certain what was behind their decision to cover star Chris Evans’ face for The Winter Soldier (April 4). Yeah they cropped his head a bit and focused more on the old school uniform and scuffed up metal shield, but it’s still Evans giving us his best look of severity.

Maybe it’s because I don’t know the comic—maybe BLT thinks Britain doesn’t either—but do fans really get excited by that helmet/mask with an “A”? They obviously had some kind of thought process to make them give UK audiences Evans while Americans settle with a wannabe Batman scowl, I’m simply in the dark. They also allow Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson to be bigger across the pond too, but that’s probably some stipulation in Chris’ stateside contract.

Either way, neither version is that great. BLT loses the interesting, dramatic crop from the first film and settles with a profile of sadness. And then you have the main sheet with every character in it proving to be as drab as you’d expect. Thankfully we at least get the teaser shield in glorious shadow with authentic wear and tear to show that this isn’t your grandfather’s superhero who saves the day with little trouble. Captain America isn’t invincible and he is going to get beat up.

My favorite, though, (no, not Paolo Rivera‘s version that tries to be retro and G.I. Joe-esque but only ends up being a contemporized variation on the theme that’s off-centered placement distracts the heck out of me) is the IMAX sheet. I love the blacks and reds, the abstract placement of objects/actors cropped and segmented as the shapes they cut through see fit, and the comic book shading that’s more painterly than photo-realistic. This thing could be a special edition cover for one of the books and it proves to be a nice collectible for those heading out at Midnight the day before release.

See more of this month’s Posterized >>

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