The Art of Film Advertising Words by: Dennis Routledge Tizzard
Welcome back to The Art of Film Advertising, a weekly feature dedicated to showcasing the latest movie posters and trailers. This week we’ve got a variety of new posters and trailers to analyse, so let’s get straight to it. First off is this fantastically daring poster for Rodrigo Cortés’s first English language film, Buried:
Buried centres on Paul (Ryan Reynolds), a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin, armed with only a lighter and a mobile with which to escape. Not the film to take your nearest and dearest claustrophobic mates to see then. This poster is ridiculously minimalist, the entire thing would be a blank sheet of black paper if it were not for the tiny image of Reynolds trapped in his coffin at the bottom, but it works because it makes you feel claustrophobic just looking at it. Not only does this poster visualise the fear of being buried alive perfectly, it also parallels the films content as Buried spends most of its hour and half running time with Paul, stuck in the coffin. The poster also draws your attention to the coffin itself, and offsets the black background well by drenching the rectangular box with a glowing golden brown colour. It’s also worth checking out this brilliant teaser trailer for the film which works in a similar fashion to great effect. Buried has yet to secure a UK release date but is out in the US on the 8th of October. Next up is the poster for Christopher B. Landon’s (Dirty Sexy Money, Disturbia) Burning Palms:
The plot description for Burning Palms sounds brilliant; a subversive tale that interlaces five stories set in Los Angeles, where no taboo is left unexplored as each character careens toward a dark and often comic fate. There’s not much to see in the above poster but it works. The twisted car freshener and dirty windscreen (and font) hint at the black comedy you can expect from the film and having the perspective from the driver’s seat is an interesting choice. What I like about this poster is that at a first glance everything may seem peachy, but upon closer inspection you see the dirty underbelly of this simple but effective design. Burning Palms has yet to secure a release date but should be released sometime later in 2010. Christopher Nolan’s (The Dark Knight, Memento) mystery-shrouded new film, Inception, is almost upon us and Warner Bros have unleashed a new poster in the run up to its release:
While perhaps not as clever as this early teaser poster the above one-sheet just looks downright cool. The cast, standing in cool poses brandishing various guns and set against the morphing urban cityscapes seen in the trailers, really look the part. The entire image, aided by its blue tint (Nolan seems to be taking his Michael Mann influence even further than The Dark Knight) also further entrenches the notion that this will be the world’s first ‘existential heist movie’ and I can’t wait to catch it when it’s released on the 16th of July. A new poster for Ridley Scott’s (Gladiator, Blade Runner) latest, Robin Hood has also appeared this week:
Despite baring more than a slight similarity to this Howl’s Moving Castle poster the way the above poster is split into three really works in its favour. Due to the aspect ratio you essentially get three stills from the movie stacked up on top of one another and it looks great set against the black background. Additionally, the boarders of each image have been given a nice ‘painted on’ look which adds a little more depth to the poster. I can’t say I’m too excited to see Robin Hood myself but for those who are; it’s released on the 14th of May. Now here’s an example of how not to make a teaser poster, courtesy of Scream 4:
Using a simple design for your film poster is often the best way to go, but that doesn’t mean it should be at the expense of creativity or originality. In the case of Scream 4 this idea has been taken way too far as audiences are already so familiar with the ‘Ghost Face’ mask that this just poster ends up feeling redundant and boring. Also, if your films have been subject to parody by a massively popular comedy franchise it’s probably not the best idea to use their font for your tagline. Just saying. Scream 4 is due for release on the 15th of April 2011, and will probably end up on our shores soon after. Finally, we have this simply terrible Australian poster for Pixar’s third Toy Story outing:
So far, Pixar have produced a (early teaser poster) brilliant selection of posters for Toy Story 3 which makes the above abomination that much worse in comparison. So what’s the problem here? To put it simply; composition. There are too many visual elements present here and they’ve all been put together terribly. The blue font at the top has been aligned poorly, Mr Potato head and his ‘3D’ arm look awkward and if that wasn’t enough they’ve then tried to throw in the entire main cast and the logo at the bottom left. It’s clear what they were trying to go for here, a visual representation of the 3D content of the film, but it doesn’t work at all. Toy Story 3 is due for release on the 23rd of July this summer. This week the award for best trailer goes to John Stalberg’s upcoming stoner comedy, High School: High School follows a high school valedictorian who gets high with the local stoner and finds himself the subject of a random drug test. The situation then causes him to concoct an ambitious plan to get his entire graduating class to face the same fate, and fail. The above teaser trailer is brilliant for several reasons. First off, the eerie music and slow motion shots look and sound great, and combined, almost make you feel as if you’re stoned whilst watching it. Secondly, we’ve no idea who’s delivering the hilariously psychotic, drug-addled narration (which also introduces the main cast effectively) until the very end when it’s revealed to be Adrien Brody, delivering a speech to a classroom of stunned teenagers. This trailer barely shows the audience any of the film, and doesn’t even bother to properly outline the storyline, but because it’s so affecting it still leaves you wanting more. High School doesn’t have a release date yet but it’s sure to secure one in the near future. Next up is the new trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s (The Sixth Sense, The Happening) fantasy epic, The Last Airbender: I’ll be honest with you, to begin with I could care less about this film as the TV series on which it’s based looks awful and Shyamalan’s only good film was his first. Upon viewing this third trailer for The Last Airbender, however, it looks as if I may have to change my stance on the film as it looks, quite simply, kick ass. The above trailer shows off a lot of the action set pieces which will be littering the film and they look class. The slow motion combined with the inventive use, and technical wizardry, of the water and fire special effects look particularly amazing whilst the tidal wave scene looks (and sounds) suitably epic. We’ll find out if this trailer is indicative of the overall quality of The Last Airbender when it’s released on the 13th of August this summer. Finally, let’s take a quick look at the teaser trailer for the new Bollywood comedy, Tere Bin Laden: Everything about this controversy-baiting trailer looks awful. First off, the shifting visual style, jumpy editing style and ‘hand-drawn’ title card are really off putting as there’s no visual coherence. The whole thing also looks incredibly cheap and rushed. Secondly, latching onto the events surrounding 9-11 and the use of a terrorist look-alike isn’t clever or funny; it’s just embarrassingly adolescent (and verges on the offensive). Based on this trailer, Tere Bin Laden definitely looks like one to miss. Well that’s it for this week but join us next week when we’ll be rounding up the latest posters and trailers for even more future films. Check out the first Art of Film Advertising