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Posterized September 2013: ‘Prisoners,’ ‘Rush,’ ‘Riddick’ & More

Written by on September 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.

Festival season is upon us, so forgive me if I’m more concerned with the films whose posters will be included in future posts than those releasing now. That’s not saying there aren’t any of worth—movies or posters—just that it’s a hectic time of year.

The craziest detail, however, is noticing exactly how many studios currently use festivals like Toronto to serve as premieres rather than venues to buy and sell. I count at least six selections I could theoretically be watching this weekend at TIFF. It’s a reality that speaks more towards the festival coveting exposure than the films needing it and ultimately provides an excuse for many to skip the slam-dunks for lesser-known works they may never have the chance to see again.

What’s in the box?!

This month’s collection of lazy poster tropes goes to segregated film stills in different size quadrilaterals. Sometimes they span the entire poster, sometimes a cross-section, and more often than not “fun” little motifs of boxes upon boxes that could either be an intentional collage effect or the product of a firm lacking the time to Photoshop everyone out of their backgrounds. September has one of each.

The first comes via Sony’s Battle of the Year (open September 20) in glorious 3D! I completely forgot this was a film until I saw Josh Holloway’s smolderingly serious mug in the top left and remembered laughing at the trailer when I caught it months ago.

I’ll give the designers credit for not just sticking to straight rectangles so that the slants can enhance the shadowboxed font at the center. And I’ll applaud them for not just putting Chris Brown’s peroxide hair front and center. Although, it would have been hilarious if that tiny detail in the credits box saying the singer plays “Rooster” were a focal point.

Blue filter, red filter; blue, red—is the fight pitting cool colors against warm? I don’t know, I’m too far removed from the target audience for a dance flick, so maybe this is exactly what people need to fork over ten plus bucks for a seat. The diagonals do make your eye cut through top to bottom and a little faux motion is added in blurring—so I guess it’s a success?

Carnival Studio’s sheet for Thanks for Sharing (limited September 20), however, is definitely not. Three couples, three stills? That’s some original thinking there. Even the boys and girls are aligned with each other—all they would have needed to do was dye Tim Robbins’ hair so it was a dark/blonde system the whole way though.

Even the blue/yellow/white color scheme is lacking courtesy of the conformity in font size. The title kind of sticks out—and I really love the “R” of that typeface—but it’s just fake smiles without the jokes and a ton of thin white letters. I’d almost say The Cimarron Group’s starkly color-less counterpart is better besides its horrible masking job with hair. Is P!nk glowing?

Ignition Print at least tries to add some character by making its boxes rotate at 90 degrees for Don Jon (open September 27). There’s no Tony Danza anywhere to be seen, but whatever.

The poster is light years better than the previous platitude-heavy portrait, but I can’t stop looking at the red title box’s added area with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hyphenate. Couldn’t the order of overlapping have been changed to retain full squares? Or is Scarlett Johansson’s field supposed to be cutting into his red? It’s awkward and glaringly bad. At least Julianne Moore’s slight overhang spans her entire edge.

How does Touchy Feely (limited September 6) fit into this subsection, you ask? How about me liking its decision to “Think Outside the Box”? Right? See what I did there?

Honestly, though, I kind of like this layout. It’s simple, fun, and unafraid to center its mass of text without the need for full justifying the credit box into a regimented square. The colors are nice and earthy, the handprint “O” a cute flourish, and the roughly drawn rain a Peanuts-esque representation of emotional turmoil juxtaposed against the actors’ smiles. Throw it all slightly right of the middle and you have yourself a graphic that may just stick in people’s consciousness.

Now playing at TIFF

The above Don Jon is also playing at TIFF—as well as Enough Said (limited September 20)—but it fit better above and my sections are in fours. It’s the format I chose, so I can’t very well change things up …

On to new posters: here comes a surprisingly effective Photoshop job for Metallica: Through the Never (limited September 27), an intriguing hybridized concert film/thriller from Nimrod Antal. The band’s logo gets some play as the “No” sign above “Never”, Dane DeHaan is easily recognizable despite only getting his eyes and brow, and the lit-up stage finds some glory through its projection onto his face-shrouding scarf. That’s a pretty good job of hitting all your bases while still creating a rather ominous image.

The foreboding feeling equals that of the trailer and I will admit I want to see this thing. I have absolutely no clue what to expect but I need to know. Thankfully the studio released saw this potential to stir up like-minded individuals’ interest because their first teaser screams redundant concert film that no one could care less about.

Continuing the trend of pitch-black backgrounds is Ignition’s Parkland (limited September 20). As the tagline says, this is a film about the aftermath of JFK’s assassination. What better way to depict such tragedy than the obligatory flag at half-mast in mourning?

It’s a similar decision as Bemis Belkind had with Bobby a few years back deciding an overflowing ensemble cast would be too much—not to mention take away from the true meaning of the film by making it about celebrity. Good on them also for keeping it simple and respectful, because I’m sure someone in that brainstorming session suggested putting blood on that flag.

Too bad Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company didn’t follow suit with their campaign for Prisoners (open September 20). I guess Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are too big to sweep into the background. Look closely, though, and you’ll see a cool circular maze in the center of the “O”. Now how awesome would it have been if they created a design around that motif? I’d almost bet they did and the studio somehow declined it.

“We want depressed severity looking down and to the right at nothing!” Putting Jackman with his little girl on his shoulders would have at least been more interesting than this. As for separating them—I think each actor’s expression is made weirder on their own. Nothing about the film’s premise is explained and that maze keeps grabbing your eye, refusing to let go. They really missed a golden opportunity there.

The festival of faces isn’t over as Concept Arts utilizes Chris Hemsworth’s determined eyes as its central detail for Rush (open September 20). It’s a high definition photo where every pour on his face is noticeable as well as the sweat-matted hair atop his head. The tagline keeps his eyes in our sight and the bolded title incorporates itself into our hypnosis.

Definitely my preferred choice of the Rush bunch, anything with Daniel Brühl is a disaster. Boy, did they do a number on him in the advertising game—he looks scary and this is before a crash burns off his face. The one with him and Hemsworth together looks as though he’s going to jump off the page and murder us slowly and painfully.

And no cars? Really? I understand that audiences love Thor, but come on. Show us a little of the high-octane action I’m still assuming will be included.

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

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