“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.
Get ready for remakes, sequels, and festival holdovers because it’s … a month of the year. Sometimes I miss the days of my childhood when there’d only be one new film a week, an era when no one thought remaking an animated film shot-for-shot with real actors would make money. But it’s invigorating nonetheless to see all those tinier films constantly stepping up to go against these behemoths and earn acclaim and cash while proving creativity does still exist.
For a month with five Fridays, however, March doesn’t necessarily have that much going for it poster-wise. There are some intriguing releases like The Belko Experiment (opens March 17) with lackluster artwork or The Blackcoat’s Daughter (limited March 31) with pretty if unoriginal design. Sure they get the job done, but they don’t get me more excited for the films. The same goes for the 90s-chic Song to Song (limited March 17) poster and carbon copy T2: Trainspotting (limited March 17) sheets portraying how much we’ve all aged in twenty years.
Thankfully there are a few works highlighted below that will excite you for what their films may deliver rather than serving as mere placeholders to share title and release date, nothing more.
Beauties, beasts & Power Rangers
But let’s talk about that shot-for-shot remake first. While I say this facetiously since The Jungle Book proved Disney wasn’t interested in remaking their classic films as much as improving them (which it did by a mile), it’s tough to watch the Beauty and the Beast (opens March 17) trailer and not think, “Why shouldn’t I just stay home and watch the cartoon?” I’m not sure there’s a good answer. Time will tell.
What we do know is that BLT Communications, LLC decided to double-down on the nostalgia by all-but copying its 1991 Oscar-winning predecessor. Just look at the teasers with darkly diffused atmosphere turning its pair engaged in dance to silhouette. The pose is different, but the intent is identical. Besides a bit more color and its stylized title font, the image triggers something dormant in our memories.
The same can be said about the full sheet with its not quite cartoonish menagerie of inanimate objects looking upon the titular duo. What’s different here is that the shift from cutesy to “realism” is disturbing, the live-action feel making things darker than the cartoon ever could. The shadowy mood lends a sinister aesthetic that may overpower the idea of romance we’re supposed to experience. Or maybe it’s intentionally underling the Stockholm syndrome aspects of the script.
As far as the character sheets go, it’s telling that the American versions are obligated to show the actors behind the animation while France retains a sense of mystery like the film (hopefully) will. And what’s with keeping the Beast in his cursed form despite this choice? Is it just because Dan Stevens isn’t well known here? (Although Legion is changing that if Downton Abbey didn’t already do so.)
Disney wants their cast to be seen and seen they are. Sadly it only renders the whole to look more Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland than the “most beautiful love story ever told.”
Power Rangers (opens March 24) has sought to set itself apart from its source material by relinquishing the “Mighty Morphin” except in tagline. Much like the trailer, however, they’ve adapted a similar bent to Chronicle instead. LA goes for silhouettes of kids readying to become what we know they will, much like the aforementioned “regular kids get superpowers” film (albeit MIDNIGHT OIL placed them in full flight). The grittiness is intact, the infinite possibilities as represented by a wide expanse of sky too. Those boys refused to come together while these boys and girls are told they must to “be more.”
This tease paired with the foggy action shot of mechanical beasts looking very Transformers-like is pretty cool. There’s atmosphere, mystery, and a distinct lack of polished faces (considering all are practical no-names thus far in their careers anyway). I also enjoy the simple “Go Go” with lightning bolt in lieu of the title. It still surprises me that this franchise is ubiquitous enough to get away with that, but here we are in 2017 with Saban spending big yet again.
From there we get the requisite character series with Lionsgate going full Hunger Games on the sheer number of variations. We get the portraits in shadow, the poses on Zords, and the “high-speed” static shots with blurred lines. There’s drama, scale, and action: although the main goal is to simply saturate the market and our eyeballs. Frankly, these all do a better job than the final, generic totem collage of costumes. At least Elizabeth Banks adds some excitement in that one to counteract the staid heroes.
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