Saturday, March 16, 2013

Seeing the Forest Within the Trees

2013 has been, as I've already said on multiple occasions, a great year for quality film key art. I have a list on which I keep track of all the good designs I see and already it's rather long, which is a rarity for sure and will make rounding down my end of year list a harder proposition than usual. While the number of quality film posters has shot up remarkably this year, the number of bad ones has remained steady. No grand rise or fall in the number of posters that fail at simple tasks such as Photoshop, appropriate typeface choices, image choice, and structure. Maybe I've just become desensitised - how many times can we see this rubbish and still feel appalled anger that it was approved for release? - or maybe I've just gotten softer in my years of following the artform and looking at the poster for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone doesn't send me into fits of vomitting terror.

Still, I think I've certainly found a truly worthwhile contender for worst poster of the year. Thanks to some unholy mash up of strange actorly facial expressions, ugly and dull colour palate, and stupid design idea the poster for M Night Shyamalan's After Earth is quietly disastrous. Just look at this thing and tell me you would want to see it. I bet you can't. It's impossible, I'm sure.

The grey gradient effect could world if it wasn't using that ugly internalised image effect that I hate so much. It looks so cheap and lazy! Sure, it is probably not as bad as the worst offender I can think of off the top of my head - that'd be this ridiculous poster for How She Move - but I've never liked that design concept and I almost never think it works. It certainly doesn't here, and by the point where it reaches Will and Jaden Smith's conjoined waist the image just dissolves into a murky blacks, making it impossible to decipher what is actually going on. The image they've used for that "inside" effect (does it have a name? I'd like to know!) isn't exactly an exciting one either, am I right? If you're trying to sell your post-apocalyptic film using that design then you should at least utilise an image that will reel in an audience. Some trees and an apparent crashed plane are not that at all. Consider the poster for Oblivion, which also uses a cold, steely silver colour palate, but does so with an image that definitely sells the film. It's about a post-apocalyptic Earth and that's pretty clear from that one image. The poster for After Earth? Could be anything, really. And there's also that blade sticking out of Jaden's back? I assume it's a sword, but if you're not going to be clear about it then get rid of it. It looks awkward and almost as if it was left on there by accident.

What happened? The only thing that could make this poster any worse is if they used M Night Shyamalan's name in bed text at the top.

Three other terrible posters to let your eyeballs soak in: The East for it's ugly, pale mess; Scary Movie 5 for being a more terrifying piece of imagery than any of the films it apparently spoofs (although the "V" is novel, I suppose); and Grown Ups 2 for being a sequel poster that's every bit as bad as the poster for the original. How many more times can Sandler get away with making these tax deductible holidays with his maters into films?

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