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Posterized February 2015: ‘Jupiter Ascending,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ‘Focus,’ and More

Written by on February 4, 2015 

“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.

2015 has started with a whimper—or at least that’s my opinion when American Sniper wins the box office two weeks in a row despite being a 2014 release. Now that January is behind us, though, some contenders are beginning to arrive. Not legitimate contenders for Oscar glory or anything, just a few with the potential of making bank.

Heck, I’m just happy that film quality of the year’s dump doldrums aside, posters don’t always have to follow suit. Sometimes they do when the studio chooses redundant material as uninspiring as the product their selling, but I’ve seen my fair share of stinkers with gorgeous marketing material attempting to polish what cannot be helped. Hopefully at least a couple of the below films can give us something to cheer for on both fronts.

The cartoon wins

While Bill Gold surely wasn’t the first to use the ol’ between the legs poster shot on For Your Eyes Only, he definitely wasn’t the last. Generally reserved for comedies these days, it seems Ignition wanted to dust the trope off for some action espionage again on Kingsman: The Secret Service (open February 13). And why not when one of the villains is a female on blades? Making it appear like she has a stiletto accessory for them probably wasn’t necessary, though.

Ignition’s decision to use the design homage on the film’s character sheets rather than the main sheet is ill-conceived. It’s one thing to willingly make it your poster, but putting every male actor in the movie between those same legs starts to be less “fun” and a whole lot more misogynistic. Did they have to include the dog too?

Sadly, The Refinery‘s work isn’t much better with its uninspired collage of characters in an attempt at throwing everything in our faces at once. I also don’t like the title fonts since the serif on “Kingsman” isn’t as posh as it hopes while the sans on the subtitle is generic and clunky in its excessive leading due to the “g’s” descender. But that’s not their fault—the studio seems to have regulated that one.

Thankfully the teaser has some appeal in its jam-packed, pristinely organized closet. It too is less than original (see Spring Breakers most recently), but at least it gets a point across with some tact.

When it comes to WORKS ADV‘s art on Jupiter Ascending (open February 6), I can’t say they do much better despite the lack of legs. Their hope to intrigue with computer-generated worlds is commendable, but the poses of the stars in the foreground are more than lacking in their obvious superimposition. They do allow us to meet everyone before opening night, though, so I guess they do half of their job.

No, the character sheets I enjoyed most for this film were the ones with ornate gold work a la The Great Gatsby with planets and stars reminding me of Tom Jung‘s Dune for whatever reason. The one I show here helps prove that Channing Tatum likes his right profile (or refused to take a second photo), but it also gives us a tone our imaginations can run with rather than matte painting cut scenes. Even Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company‘s Tatum/Mila Kunis pairing is more intriguing because the background is crisp enough to look at.

What’s coolest, though, is Art Machine traveling into the forum of alternate prints. I admire the attempt to spice things up, but the results are less than appetizing. One looks as though a Photoshop plastic wrap and cutout filter were used above a jagged composition bringing The Dark Crystal to mind. Another tries hard to homage Drew Struzan.

They do get one right: I adore the arty, Mondo-esque thin print of space dwarfing celebrity similar to J. C. Richard‘s wonderful IMAX John Carter.

And while I don’t love Seventh Son‘s (open February 6) attempt via Ignition to repurpose BLT Communication, LLC‘s flying sparks from Live Free or Die Hard, the close cropping ensures nothing is overshadowed. All we get are faces so we can focus on the faces and not any shoddy environment work behind them.

Who knew these mugs were going to be the only thing we’d receive from the movie for two years? Little more than placeholders to tell us a film was made, the journey forward was an arduous one that culminated in a sad excuse for poster excitement. Not only does Ben Barnes look like he’s posing for a cosplay website, but the dragon appears just as flat and uninteresting.

I can’t help wondering what cool things could have been done with that red moon in the distance playing a dominant role.

So, in the competition of character sheets, February 2015: the winner is The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (opening February 6). Is it because they are amazing? No. Inventive? Meh. I think they win by default simply because they’re advertising a children’s film. And as we all know, family friendly fare is the only fare where character sheets are valid. The kids want to see their faves on movie theater walls.

The work of BLT, they are kind of fun too. I like George Washington plugging his ears at Squidward; I chuckled at Plankton’s small head; and how can you not laugh at Antonio Banderas‘ beard?

You can’t go wrong embracing the absurdity of the subject matter either by throwing a random squirrel into the mix on the surfing sheet (Is that Sandy Cheeks’ true form?) and going all Coppertone on us with Spongebob’s untanned bottom.

Now that’s a good year

Wonderland has created two great quad sheets for ’71 (limited February 27).

The first isn’t perfect due to its not using the giant see-through title as the title, but instead placing a smaller version of the same at bottom middle. Even so, it’s a pretty cool poster in its fearlessness to keep everything outside those large numbers blank or only inhabited by text. The collage is painterly with a sense of drama and it nicely doesn’t appear as though cardboard cutouts slapped together in haste.

The second, however, is fantastic. I love the black and white, the coarse grain, and the shallow depth of field helped by smoke/fog. Jack O’Connell is sprinting forward either towards the enemy or away from them, fierce in his expression and ready for whatever fate arrives. The heavy block numbers from the first return in a dark black to contrast the gray beneath and there’s a very cool bit of double exposure on the gun at right to delight in its blemish.

Unfortunately, Canyon Design Group couldn’t replicate the visual aesthetic with their US domestic advert. Instead it’s merely star power in the foreground, uninteresting periphery everywhere else, and obnoxious press quotes in between. Oh, and that font. Boy, oh boy. There’s something wrong about its want to be 90-degree angles yet desire to have curves too. It looks bloated and ready to pop. Making the apostrophe as big as the “7’s” top left serif doesn’t help either—it overpowers the rest by unbalancing what was already unbalanced more.

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