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

Written by on February 4, 2015 

Looking a bit worse for wear

Jeremy Saunders made a couple cool, creepy posters for What We Do in the Shadows (limited February 13). I think I prefer the painterly collage with its less exacting edges seeping into the dark shadows of nightmare while the actors’ attempts at scary faces retain its inherent comedy. That is the goal after all—you don’t make every critic quote the word “Hilarious” unless it is. This maneuver in itself is funny while not being overpowering because we get the point despite the joke not taking up half the poster in lieu of what causes viewers think it.

I love the gothic, angular font a la Only Lovers Left Alive too. The illuminated “W” and “S” are beautifully ornate touches.

While the quad family portrait lacks some of the other’s mood and screams “fake” with its not quite natural positioning of actors atop one another, it is still much better than what Indika Entertainment Advertising has done. I get why they did what they did because of the Funny or Die branding coveting a straight to DVD after debuting online aesthetic with a garishly generic font set, but boy does it shed all appeal. Here the myriad “Hilarious” quotes seem to be trying hard to cover-up an unfunny reality.

I’ve yet to find a US poster for Salvation (limited February 27), but I’m digging the German selections courtesy of Ignition. There’s a gorgeous sepia tone quality to them that epitomizes the Western genre. Making the title a distressed red both allows it to pop out above the darks and melt into the lights as though each was hand-stamped at the print shop next door to the saloon. And it’s through the flourishes bookmarking the tagline that we see the potential of the style A Million Ways to Die in the West parodied.

It’s a small thing too, but I enjoy how Ignition gives each character a different background. Yes the clouds take up a majority of the space, but the attention to detail that allows one to have plateaus and the next wooden buildings does wonders in making a redundant layout feel fresh.

From funnily creepy to gritty, I now go to bad dreams-inducing terror with InSync + BemisBalkind utilizing a fast-growing trope in the thriller department (see Simon Killer) for their The Lazarus Effect (February 27). There’s something about the bright red permeating its anger and rage into the depths of our soul while the pitch black eyeball on Olivia Wilde gives us the shivers of demonic pleasure. To realize how much more effective it is to focus on this one attribute as opposed to showing a complete scene is harder than it looks.

It also provides us a glimpse at the reflection illuminated in the pupil’s glassy surface. Is that a soon-to-be victim? A mirror of herself slumped over and shuffling forward? There’s an eerie homage to The Exorcist at the very least with its figure underneath a lamppost. Just remove that silly spike to the right side of the “U” in the title and this is a great mainstream design.

The king of genre fare this month is something else entirely, though—an Oscar nominee no less. Cannes favorite Wild Tales (limited February 20) has received a lot of love in the art sector not only with official posters, but fan art as well. I wouldn’t have thought too much about it after looking at the Spanish sheet with its line-up of battered characters, but people have run wild.

To me the best attribute is the stunning logotype painstakingly refusing to stay centered. “Relatos” shifts left at the top and “Salvajes” right at the bottom to laugh at our brains’ want for left to right reading. The scratched breaks add suspense, the scuff marks a metaphor for the bloodied faces below, and the jagged points a delicious contrast to the otherwise rounded edges.

It’s no surprise then that Berkay Daglar would retain its effect on his Mondo-esque alternate sheet. All six stories in the movie are represented by six quadrants, the duotone coloring strips it down to its base form, and the animation style calls back to the actors being frayed and unpredictable.

Of course the English-language iteration would throw it all out the window for an overtly goofy pose devoid of all intrigue. Tell me this one doesn’t look like an advert for a new BBC sitcom. Why we’d strip it of all character I do not know, especially when there are so many others that don’t.

The second Spanish poster gives us a fun house mirror optical illusion with each player introduced and the Greek version goes all-out with color overlaying color. My favorite part of the latter is that the actors themselves overlay each other too with arms visible through torsos and the background colors changing everything before our eyes.


It’s all about the face

It may not be perfect, but Random Bench‘s advert for All the Wilderness (limited February 20) is striking nonetheless. A duotone to stand out amongst the glossy photographic posters residing next to it on the wall, there’s also a neat trick happening wherein the pine trees double as quasi rips in Kodi Smit-McPhee‘s bust. This isn’t a photo merging into foliage—it’s a forest deckled frame that just happens to also be bisecting his face.

I’d have liked a little more done textually, though, maybe give the title a font comparable to the imagery rather than a bland, liberally kerned sans bold. I’d definitely like to see what it could look like with the title and actor names not spanning the entire width of the page too. You provide all that beautiful negative space in the portrait, why be so quick to distract from the effect by covering it up?

Iconisus L&Y – Visual Communication SystemsFifty Shades of Grey (February 13) design isn’t flawless either, but I do like its intent. The steel gray coloring is obvious, the allusions to sexual tension as well. Maybe it could have gone a little wilder and risqué in its cropping too?

Regardless, Dakota Johnson‘s sheet is sexy in most part because we’re drawn to her bitten lip simply due to the absence of anything else. With no clothing peeking up from the bottom we can assume she’s naked, her hair dragging our eyes from her mouth down to where only our imagination can conjure what’s next. The ubiquitous nature of the source material makes a title unnecessary, and the tease is in full effect.

It’s a more evolved play on what Gravillis Inc. did months earlier with their behind the back shot of Christian looking upon the city. The contrast is starker here and the tension more of the mystery variety than sexual if you aren’t aware of the subject matter already. Whereas Johnson’s invites you in, this one potentially proves too cold to care.

As far as Concept Arts‘ go, well perhaps it’s too dark. Death Sentence keeps popping into my head as I only see violence rather than S&M in the image. This could be the intent considering most know the subtext, but I can’t help wondering if there was a better way to do it. Perhaps you need Johnson included, a close crop of the two with sex and violence merging. This looks like a revenge thriller.

I really like what Archer Troy Publicidad did on Gloria (limited February 20), especially when compared to their second version’s gaudy excess. Where that one assaults with film stills that don’t conjure the tone besides what escapes through boring visual context, the first says much more with less.

This image is ferocious with bright white surrounding a lion’s mane of wild hair itself defining the titular subject’s profiled face in full force. The photo screams as she does, making us work for the centerpiece at the same time as it ensures her pale skin is the aspect that pops. Its hot pink title is bright enough to glow above the mass of shadow but not enough to steal all the attention. Everything is in perfect accord.

The same goes for this stunning image for Focus (February 27). It’s February’s best from the soft airbrush quality of the image’s color to the tagline covering the kiss it’s all framing to the title’s on-the-nose effect careful not to devolve into cartoon. The eye exam quality o the word could cheapen the whole—and it probably does for some—but I think it’s filtered just enough to work with the rest. After all, turn the page sideways and the edges blur to its sharper kiss in much the same pattern.

BOND‘s character sheets attempt to give us grit instead of the love drug above. Similar to The Counselor, these hyper-real resolution photos provide all the nooks and crannies of their faces in tense brood mode. They are pretty in their own right, but something about the extreme clarity fights against the title’s promise. I know that sounds odd since “focus” is clarity, but it’s in the lack thereof that causes us to truly understand its definition. It’s about keeping one thing in semi-focus when the rest isn’t. That’s what makes us remember exactly what it is you want us to see.

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

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