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Posterized December 2018: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ ‘Cold War,’ ‘The House That Jack Built,’ and More

Written by on December 6, 2018 

A loving embrace

I’m still confused about this whole concept and whether or not it will feasibly make enough money to render the stunt successful, but the artwork by BLT for Once Upon a Deadpool (December 12) is inspired. There was a now-settled rumor about how Ryan Reynolds may have stolen the Princess Bride conceit from someone on Twitter (see @MVBramley), but it works. And having Fred Savage kidnapped and surly makes things even funnier.

So why not let Savage take the reins of this festive reindeer? Why not depict Deadpool as the damsel in distress sitting sidesaddle and clutching tight (besides its inherent anti-feminine connotations)? Add some ornate framework and a Bob Ross landscape of mountains majesty and you have a novelty to smirk at and ignore as the DVD extra it probably should have been.

Ben is Back (limited December 7) sees InSync Plus going serious with a distraught and desperate child clinging to a mother showing tough love and difficult restraint. The emotion on display in this image is immense whether you know the plot to the film or not. And I like that it goes the opposite direction of Beautiful Boy (with similar subject matter) from earlier this year. Rather than show joy and understanding, this poster explains the tragic reality that some parents must stop letting their kids drag them down.

That’s why this sheet is so much better than the German iteration of smiles. Having Ben be back isn’t some great thing in the context of the film because of what else he brings with him. Julia Roberts’ face in the first portrays this truth like no amount of additional text or images could.

Follow that with romance in This Time Tomorrow’s Cold War (limited December 21). In stark black and white much like the film itself, we receive the main pair engaged in a dance of pure joy. It’s a gorgeous image with adjusted levels to let tuxedo and dress bleed into the background, blurred lights added to give a sense of scene behind. The rest is then built upon the vertical axis from a five-star review to a carefully constructed title box as bright white as the faces above.

It’s this text that really sells the piece for me. The words “Cold” and “War” are staggered to mimic the actors’ positioning, the tagline broken to do the same. Those words are also magnetized together with “old” aligned to the bottom of the “C” and the “ar” to the top of the “W”. It’s naturally compressed yet not oppressively so in order to allow the actors’ names to be nustled in as well. The same delicate visuals in photography and typography are married together into a cohesively beautiful whole.

On the other end of the spectrum is the claustrophobic drama of The Refinery’s Bird Box (Netflix on December 21). Similar to Gravillis Inc.’s Dheepan, this in-close crop of Sandra Bullock and children forces us to confront the familial connection they share and the assumed danger they face. The blindfolds add mystery to the equation because we’re unsure whether they have put them on for protection or been made to do so by external forces.

It’s a captivating image that the firm does its best to overwhelm with text. Bullock’s name might be too large, but at least it’s over a dead space of hair. And since the studio doesn’t have to worry about credits for its digital releases, we don’t sacrifice the boy’s face below. I would like to see what happens when the title is shrunk a little, though, since it leaving the fabric at left does distract. If fully contained within, I think we could separate the two and read both text and blindfold better.

A shrouded face

This month we’ve got bruised-up, made-up, and covered-up faces cropped off the side of their frame. It’s interesting that these three posters would go the exact same route as far as showcasing their lead’s right side even if the composition itself isn’t necessarily unique. The reason stems from their ability deliver such different attitudes depending on their film’s content.

First is ARSONAL’s Destroyer (limited December 25) with an unrecognizable (but not really) Nicole Kidman daring us to stare back her. The image is what grabs our attention because of its pain and anger, but I’m not certain it’s enough to make its mark. It doesn’t help that the critic quotes at top are so long and small once you get to their bottom lines or that the text at middle is solid black. There’s nothing but size to differentiate Kidman’s name from the title and on quick glance it’s just a black box covering her cheek. So I see that eye and become unnerved enough to look away before processing anything else.

Second is BLT’s Mary Poppins Returns (December 19) and its immaculately airbrushed Emily Blunt delivering a knowing smile as she looks past us towards her next wards. It’s this lack of eye contact that makes it hard to really engage with the sheet. There’s no reason to hold my gaze and thus I move to the title, shrug, and push forward.

Its very blue illustrative counterpart doesn’t have that issue. Not only is Blunt now interacting with us, but there’s also a ton of content to soak in from supporting cast to flying children to falling leaves. The aesthetic lends the whole a concept sketch feel too with loose line work that’s only filled in by detail when a face demands it. Here’s what the costumes should look like. Here’s how the chimney sweep dance will go. And if you thought the original’s penguins would be absent—think again.

Third is LA’s Mortal Engines (December 14) and its want for mystery. This one is less about the face than the environment forcing it to be covered. The long dark hair and blood red mask conjure feelings of dystopia as well as elaborate on the tagline to predict scars hidden beneath. They also work as a framing device to ensure our sight lingers upon the brighter top right corner and confront the character present beyond her setting. That’s a determined eye similar to Kidman’s, but darker and projecting uncertainty rather than clear-focused malice. Where the former shows killer instinct, this one supplies judgment.

And that leaves Matt Dillon in The Einstein Couple’s The House That Jack Built (limited December 14). Like the previous three women, his face is also shrouded to reveal his right side. Rather than have the rest cropped, however, his portrait is at a middle distance so the butcher freezer plastic can do the work instead. This is therefore more than simply a look at a character. It’s not about what the actor is projecting as much as how we react to the situation he presents. Where you can look away from the others as disembodied heads, Dillon’s hand creates a point of interaction. He’s coming for us and our only escape is to run.

This is a pretty great sheet for that reason alone, but the title iconography is pretty cool too. Leave it to Lars Von Trier to have an elaborate, vertical logo created that he will then use in his horizontally orientated movie. And for something that doesn’t concern itself with consistency of letters, it retains legibility. So what that the “E” in “The” is the same size as the “TH” combined? This house was drawn and the letters fit in. It’s a design exercise given life outside the classroom.

As for the painterly scene of ferried men to Hell, I’d be remiss to ignore it when talking about this movie. Sadly, there’s little to say. It’s quite literally a lifted frame from the film that lacks the same sense of provocation it possesses in context. I will applaud the typography, though. I love that the title house is at center so stars Dillon and Bruno Ganz can be topped billed on either side via color saturation rather than order. The designers found a way to highlight what it needed to without compromising the image’s symmetry.

What is your favorite December release poster? What could have used a rework?

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