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Posterized April 2016: ‘Green Room,’ ‘Tale of Tales,’ ‘Louder Than Bombs,’ and More

Written by on April 4, 2016 

“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.

Spring is bringing some TIFF 2015 holdovers and a couple Hollywood hopefuls to take down the juggernaut that is Batman v Superman despite its bad reviews (I proudly hold firm on thinking it fun). Disney may have a hit on their hands with one of their old properties turned new (the one that isn’t pretending it isn’t connected to the film it’s a prequel of), but the success of the rest is up in the air.

Except for Barbershop: The Next Cut (April 15) and the aforementioned Disney rehash, marketing may prove a huge component towards box office returns this month as a result. These films are small and possibly not in the public consciousness. A good poster will go a long way towards turning heads so their titles work themselves into a comfy spot between our ears. April delivers a few that just might get the job done.

Character distraction

These four aren’t necessarily the ones “getting the job done” as much as helping keep the design firms afloat with copious amounts of posters that all pretty much do the same thing as the next. Two are established properties showing how cast and spectacle truly is all that’s left to provide while the other two are unknowns wherein cast is crucial to getting butts in the seats.

Keanu (April 29) is the latter because saying Key & Peele might not be as ubiquitous as fans of the duo believe. That’s not to say the general public won’t have light bulbs going off saying “It’s those guys who do the weird football player names!” They just need visual cues for the level of recognition they actually deserve.

Well, besides the full sheet showing both screaming with guns in hand, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key along with Warner Bros. have decided the joke is more important. So they put the titular cat front and center in the style of four of 2015’s award season contenders for the rest. Rather than re-stage these posters like Tyler Perry is wont to do, however, Gravillis Inc. goes lo-fi by just Photoshopping little Keanu on the existing work. I wonder if they have to pay Tom Hardy extra for the effect.

Disney’s The Jungle Book (April 15) is one of the aforementioned “established” properties wherein we know what’s coming (even if I want to believe it will adhere to the 1994 live-action version instead of the original animated one from 1967). This means it’s BLT Communications, LLC‘s job to sell us on the computer graphics. We’re to stare slack-jawed at King Louie, Shere Khan, and the rest because the sense of realism they deliver is crucial to whether or not we believe in the film.

The firm at least looks to add some intrigue with one round of posters by putting their jungle creatures on majestic backgrounds holding unique details to seek out. These are much better than the in-close, fiery portraits of their second series. Thankfully they didn’t make posters out of those glamour shots with actor and character together — well I haven’t seen them yet since they’re probably out there.

In the end none can match the imaginative power of the teaser and its painterly atmosphere. Why can’t children’s movie be sold on mystery as opposed to graphic engine power anymore? Leave something off-screen so we can bask in their introductions on the big screen with awe.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (April 22) is the movie I meant when talking about how far it’s distancing itself from the film it directly connects with: Snow White and the Huntsman. If the original property was so forgettable that you’d rather say “From the producer of Maleficent” instead of “The story before the not-so blockbuster hit,” why even make it? And if you still feel compelled, why hinge excitement on a competing studio when you’ve already made a film with the same characters? That doesn’t even seem sound in a business sense.

Show White is gone but the Evil Queen, magic mirror, and titular hero remain. Kudos to LA for not just using the same background on each character sheet, but they stir no emotion in me regardless. Not that Creative Partnership‘s full sheet with all four collaged together in a totem does. No, the only image that has me curious is the one with Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron as reflections of each other. I care more about their relationship and fight than any of the “huntsmen.” But I honestly don’t care at all.

And that leaves Criminal (April 15), a film I know literally nothing about and am not sure I should. It’s Ariel Vroman‘s follow-up to the okay The Iceman starring a bunch of recognizable faces. LA’s campaign goes for mystery by shrouding each face in red-hued shadows. But while the design choice is intriguing in its relief silhouettes, the credits box on the actors’ heads instead of in the bottom’s dead space proves odd and distracting.

Sorry, I’m not buying a ticket after looking at these. I might for the firm’s blue-hued translucent collage, however, but only because it looks as though Kevin Costner has a mohawk on first glance. Otherwise it too seems like it should work in a redundant, been there done that way, but doesn’t. Then there’s the Mondo-lite sheet that looks exactly like that sounds: inferior.

Close but no cigar

There are many things you could do to promote Men & Chicken (limited April 22), but the design teams abroad and stateside have all decided to put all their eggs in a hair-lipped Mads Mikkelsen basket. You can’t blame them since his is the recognizable face within its ensemble, but there’s a lot more going for it when it comes to weird. Placing an eggshell on the body of who we assume to be David Dencik isn’t quite surreal enough.

Again, though, it’s a foreign film from a niche distributor with alienating subject matter, so going full-on celebrity is smart if safe. But as the Danish poster shows, you can give Mads the spotlight while also spending some time with his co-stars. I’m not saying this original sheet is better than its American counterpart, just that showing real people is stranger and more fascinating in this instance than not.

I’ll admit to knowing absolutely nothing about The Dark Horse (limited April 1) so my gauge of interest hinges on the artwork alone. What InSync + BemisBalkind have done is pretty good in its architecture, but there’s too much happening. I love the graphic chess piece and the colorful title to match Cliff Curtis‘ wardrobe, but they literally take up every last square inch of the frame opposite quotes and credits. There’s no room to breathe, no white space to rest our eyes. Subtly drawn or not, it’s still a visual assault.

Carnival Studio‘s original is better as far as easing us into the imagery, but it’s not as captivatingly unique. It’s just one more use of the God-like motif as this “shaman” calls to the sky with rain pouring down upon him. I do like the title font, though. It’s like something you’d use on a horror advert, but it works.

BOND‘s Green Room (limited April 15; wide April 29) is so close to being great. The off-kilter angle is unsettling and gives movement to the scene as the figure at center pulls his machete down. The atmosphere is darkly menacing, the color scheme oppressive in its poisonous haze. I even like the font despite its three-dimensionality lending a more playful vibe than I think the designer wants.

The title block also provides a video game feel when put together with the whole, though. It’s like the words want to pop out and shake a la the opening titles in Scott Pilgrim. I can hear the heavy metal scream—something that actually does go with the subject matter of a band locked in their venue’s green room—and I’m lost me a bit. Those fading quotes at top don’t help being that they’re insanely distracting. Remove them and I can probably forgive the rest.

Regardless, this one has a heck of a lot more intrigue than Yolk Creative London‘s version. Creepy Patrick Stewart is a nice touch, but there’s just too much text at right overpowering any tension he can provide.

As for Demolition (limited April 8), the idea of Jake Gyllenhaal plastered to walls and cracking seems effective but really is too on-the-nose. Maybe if they turned his face into the wall similar to Lena Headey’s becoming glass in ARSONAL‘s The Broken, the idea would work better. As is, though, the French poster image itself seems an afterthought to the concept. The paint chips are authentically rendered but Gyllenhaal is blurry, uninteresting, and flat. Zoom out and show why he’s on that wall and I’ll appreciate it more.

The Dutch entry looks to remove verisimilitude completely by rendering the whole a cartoon. I do like that the title shatters with Jake this time, but the rest is bright and tacky. And the American version is the worst of all. I hate saying things like this, but it really does look like a five-year old put it together with scissors. The font is bland, the giant square gash too precise. It feels like a thumbnail someone was supposed to expand upon but forgot.

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