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Posterized August 2013: ‘Elysium,’ ‘The World’s End,’ ‘Short Term 12’ & More

Written by on July 31, 2013 

“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.

Summer is coming to a close with a five-Friday August jam-packing all the leftover big budget actioners that have been biding their time to distance themselves from the likes of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. The last couple family-friendly flicks like Planes (open August 9) drop to close the season and the descent into Halloween begins with some indie thrillers.

A few festival favorites finally see the light of day too, but they’re overshadowed by train wreck rubbernecking for the now infamous The Canyons’ (limited August 2) debut as well as boy band One Direction’s concert diary courtesy of Morgan Spurlock (open August 30). So it’s popular names and critical successes, two categories that I guess don’t need much creativity when a hive mind consensus on design tropes will suffice.

Gimmickery 101

I think it’s time for The Cimarron Group to actually dig deeper into the hive and pull something else out because their sheet for Jobs (open August 16) is pretty god-awful. I honestly don’t know what is happening because Ashton Kutcher does bear a resemblance to the titular Steve Jobs, so why not let him be seen devoid of the vomit-inducing color filter? It seriously looks like the artist accidentally hit a color inverse before saving and never checked the file when sending it to print.

I love that some are comparing it to old iPod ads too. Now that’s a stretch at best. (Where’s the silhouette?) And if the imagery itself didn’t look cheap enough, the weird overlapping of its all caps, thin sans serif star’s name and film title picks up the slack. One more ‘flourish’ that looks like a mistake.

Should I at least give them credit for trying something new, though? I definitely can’t give it to my usual favorite firm Gravillis Inc. or cold open for their respective attempts on Closed Circuit (open August 28) and Elysium (open August 9). Talk about going back to the well—we need to retire this design trope once and for all.

Seriously though, look at all these:

Its day has come and gone. If your tagline is that important, use it by itself. Or maybe these actors are simply too sexy to be seen in full force? Perhaps Matt Damon’s face will just enamor moviegoers so much that no one will remember to buy a ticket.

At least Elysium got a Mondo limited edition from Martin Ansin to class things up a bit. It may not be the artist’s best, but it’s better than Erector set and sweaty faced Damon. Or maybe that’s just me.

Thankfully, however, Passion (limited August 30) found someone to give it some allure in its sex appeal. I’m far from a fan of the film itself, but there’s no denying this shot of Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace won’t get butts in seats.

The steely blue is a perfect contrast to the usual warm reds of lust; the ultra thin font is attractively stark and cold; and it’s fun to know exactly whose lips and noses those are without full faces or cheesy graphics. Just compare it to its German counterpart and see how the same idea can be disastrously neutered if handled wrong.

Characters galore

And what do you do when trusty design tropes are too much effort? That’s right—fall back to the more is more philosophy of character posters to mass-produce in large stand-up cardboard rectangles. We see it with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (open August 21), The World’s End (open August 23), We’re the Millers (open August 7), and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (open August 7).

For City of Bones it’s a real shame because of the supernatural, fantastical elements involved. You could do something really cool with this stuff. Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company does good work on the generic sheet with its reflective pool of water showcasing the underworld of darkness hiding amongst us, but BLT Communications, LLC’s puts a wrench in the creativity when introducing the actors.

We get a glowing orb, a lot of leather, and sparse words with only Jonathan Rhys Meyers getting an interesting crop worth mentioning. Have them fighting. Have them in motion. Have them do anything but pose for the camera. Please, we beg you.

Creative Partnership unfortunately does no better for The World’s End. This is even sadder, however, because they made a pretty cool teaser with a bar sign engulfing in flames. I love the font, the wood texture, the starry sky, and the meteorites—all of which lose every ounce of interest when put behind blatantly touched up faces with painted dirt.

Each bust looks like a wax figure with a ton of gloss and artifice. Tommy Lee Edwards subverts this aesthetic in his hand-drawn sketch that perhaps isn’t as good as it could be either, but ultimately the film’s best representation comes from the original tease with nothing besides the names of each bar on the crawl. It’s a lot of fonts, yes, but there is something to be said about its simplicity of content.

On the flipside, cold open somehow found a way to make their character sheets for We’re the Millers better than the montaged full look. It may not be too surprising once you notice that the imagery is identical—funny by itself, cheesy together.

I like the color border, the goofy asterisk subtitles to their names, and the faded textured wall behind them. And the expressions are priceless, each one perfectly embodying their roles. I’m not saying the resulting poster its Photoshop combination creates is bad, it just loses the impact each actor had without the competition.

In the end, though, it’s Percy Jackson who wins this round of breathing new life into an old format. Designed by Midnight Oil Creative with photography from Frank Ockenfels, these chiaroscuro profiles possess fantastic atmosphere. The fonts are fun, the juxtaposed Greek symbols tasteful, and the bracketed title small enough to take a backseat but bright enough to be noticed.

Even Midnight’s one-sheet of the titular hero is a winner with its moody forest, extreme crop and prominent tridented sword. The combo is a little weak with the profiles now in color, but the stance of solidarity helps bolster the tagline so that we know this is our last line of defense.

Check out more of Posterized on the next page >>

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