Monday, January 9, 2012


CONTRABAND - The poster for Contraband has some very specific things it wants to say about Mark Wahlberg’s new action crime thriller. The first thing it wants to do, with the various head shots scattered about in different frames, is make us think of The Departed. Almost every crime thriller without its own merits these days wants to compare itself to the best crime drama in the last decade. Second, with the duct tape and the gray palette, the makers of this poster want to emphasize this is a gritty tale, likely in the seedy suburbs of Boston – the new Brooklyn. The third thing we emphasize here is, of course, Mark Wahlberg. The poster isn’t overly busy, but busy enough. But it’s simply another poster in the expansive group of crime drama posters without much personality. A little flash of color here and there outside of the actor names would have spiced it up: C+

HAYWIRE - I am convinced that orange is the best predominant color for movie posters. 2010’s best poster was for the George Clooney film, The American, primarily orange. But creativity also helps. This poster for Haywire does grit the right way. We have no faces to identify with. Instead, the expansive, impressive cast is listed at the top while a single image dominates the page. The image is vague, but telling of the film; here is a movie about a woman kicking ass. And kicking men’s asses. The fractured font and the sharp angles of the words are great, full of energy and seemingly broken apart by the action. Less is more almost always when it comes to movie posters. If you think of the best posters of all time, they usually have one vague image, not a litany of characters and busy artwork: A

THE GREY - This poster for Liam Neeson’s annual opening year action film follows the theory that less is more, but in an entirely different way than Haywire. Instead of one vague image hinting at the action, we get one very visual actor filling the page completely and almost busting out of the frame. The color palette is much like Contraband, but the singularity of the image makes the accentuated blue of Neeson’s eyes pop wonderfully. I like this poster, but part of me wanted more with this film, about a plane crash and a man forced to fend off a band of hungry wolves. By more maybe I mean more room on the poster, more negative space. Neeson is clearly the draw, but I think this is a film better served by a background of the terrain perhaps. I do think the tagline is great: B+

MAN ON A LEDGE - The poster for Man on a Ledge does a great job of inducing vertigo in a two-dimensional image. The film, one of those gimmicky single-set pictures like Phone Booth, looks intriguing. And the image of Sam Worthington’s character staring down at the city streets below, full of pedestrians and police cars, is striking. But again, I don’t understand the overwhelming need for posters to be washed out in blues and grays. Sometimes it makes sense, as it does with The Grey. But here, I would like color variations. And I have never been a fan of the generic actor panels like the ones below the title here. Just show us the actor names, we don’t need headshots in the most milquetoast way possible. It takes away from the main image: B