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Posterized December 2013: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Her,’ ‘American Hustle’ & More

Written by on December 2, 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.

Is the industry overcompensating a bit with almost every film in December having character sheets? And I’m not even talking about Fox’s Walking with Dinosaurs (December 20)—the one that no one is surprised would.

It’s interesting that indie flicks have decided to go this way too; maybe it’s a bit of an Oscar push for the contenders? One can only assume the bigger studio entries are simply trying to saturate the market during a season many filmgoers are catching up on critical darlings — star power truly does sell.

It’s hard in this life for a pimp

I like what BLT Communications, LLC did with their American Hustle (December 18) sheets even if it’s not necessarily their work that’s on display. These actor shots are all about the make-up artist and costume designer and I’m not even sure the firm would deny this fact. They’ve slapped a Boogie Nights vibe on it, let the fantastic photography shine, and then Photoshopped everything together for a one-sheet that honestly proves pieces can be better than the whole.

The attitude is captivating, the font a nice flavor of 70s fun, and the sexuality palpable with both Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. Just like the trailer turned heads with these retrofitted movie stars in curls, paunchy guts, and receding hairlines, BLT makes sure to whet our appetites with aesthetic so the real meat of the film/plot remains a mystery to discover on opening night.

A love for scotch

Anyone who knows me knows I have no love for Anchorman besides its back-alley brawl, so my saying I don’t really get the campaign for Anchorman: The Legend Continues (December 18) should come as no surprise. They are giant Godzilla-like creatures taking over New York City? Does this film take place in present-day and they’re like out of the past or something? Riiiight …

It’s a funny juxtaposition—I’ll concede this point. I like Will Ferrell‘s karate chop straddling of a skyscraper and David Koechner‘s crazy face reaching for a helicopter. I even like that the dog gets some play. But none of them match the viral takeover of advertising and media Ferrell and Adam McKay have been rolling out on TV. Putting Ron Burgundy on Sportscenter is inspired.

The one poster I do actually like comes from Burgundy’s miraculous moustache. It’s a bigger deal than the man himself and as a tease it works perfectly for fans and detractors alike. The rest of the sheets only appeal to those who already set aside cash a decade ago—those die-hards who prayed this day would come.

Without a master

They may not be more than character shots like American Hustle, but BOND found a way to make 47 Ronin (December 25) look really good. Add some colored atmosphere to the bottom, shroud everything in a high contrast chiaroscuro, and let the mystical samurai artistry shine in its pitch-black dread. The main one-sheet may simply take these the rest and mush them together, but I almost don’t mind because the characterizations are that good.

There’s a painterly quality raising the quality level beyond mere photography, truly letting the make-up/costume work be seen as it was intended. I wish BOND would have done something different with the title font since its crazy tight kerning on the numbers beside wide chasms between the letters prove distracting. Thankfully, it’s still rendered small enough so our attention can be drawn in by the image so those scary faces can serve as the only “title” we need to remember.

Ding, ding

I want to give cold open credit for doing a good job at creating an old school boxing poster feel for their Grudge Match (December 25) campaign, but there’s just something off about them. The desaturation of the photos looks okay on Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone, but the addition of clothes on Kevin Hart and Jon Bernthal ruins the authenticity completely. It’s cute, but perhaps too cute—especially having so many different iterations.

Throw those out, however, and you may enjoy the first of three main sheets with its dirty yellow text taking over three quarters of the space and an engaged bout below. I really like how the sans serif font fills the black gap, love the stars’ brightness when not competing with the washed out playing card photos, and feel the color filter on the sparring partners is a perfect complement to the vintage/marbleized texture of the rest. Only the Photoshopped supporting players behind the ropes ruin it from being flawless.

The second try is worse with its attempt to take the character sheets and combine them together, but the third is godawful—and sadly the one I believe is being used in theaters. The want to be photo-real is misguided and the touch-up work on De Niro and Stallone’s necks is horrendously bad. I can’t even bring myself to look at their poor excuse for bodies again, so I’m going to simply stop talking about it.

See more from this month’s Posterized on the next page >>

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