Friday, August 30, 2013

QftWo 8/26-9/1: Imposters #7 - Elysium vs. The Butler

So, if you missed my post on August 13th, you don't know that my weekly Questions are being partly-substituted with these Imposters entries. It gives me time to work up proper Qs, like the ones to come in September. I'm cheating only a little, since the question presented by Imposters is "what's wrong/right with these subway posters I see on my commute?"

And, unfortunately, Elysium also suffers from the thing I dislike most about most modern film posters - it's mostly a big picture of the lead that is meant to be the big draw for the audience.

First and foremost, it's almost as if they don't understand that Matt Damon fans will actively follow his work, and will be interested in poster that simply bears his name, much less his likeness. People who need attention, or are (/feel) ignored yell because they don't know any better. Confident people trust that their words will be heard whether not they speak softly.

At least, in the case of Elysium, it actually keeps the super-vanity shot of the protagonist off to the side and uses the rest of the image to say something about the world of the movie. Unfortunately, what it expresses is that a beefed-up Damon is in a place where society is in decay. While this works with the tagline "a better life is just a world away." However, not only could that tagline stand to be a little better, it doesn't match the synopsis! From IMDb:

Set in the year 2154, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
Right? The tagline should be something like, "A better life awaits - off this planet." Where's my royalty, please?

Now, let’s compare this with the poster for a movie coming out a little later – The Butler. The forthcoming film also relies on the image of one person…. But, guess what, this other poster doesn’t feel the need to display the lead’s face! It announces its cast in the sidelines, but it never makes you think that it’s promoting a Matt Damon vehicle or anything like that.

Aside from that, the image conveys what something without hammering the point home – someone is either (a) patriotic or (b) involved in the government. Sure, poster is very bare-bones, but at least it doesn’t feel that you won’t understand the appeal without the stars’ faces plastered all over it in super large-scale format.

Also, the tagline suggests that someone unexpected - the flag-draped figure seems to be serving a cup of coffee - will have a major social impact. Also, we learn that the movie is semi-historical.

As to the cast, Elysium just tells us that Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are in it. While I support a woman getting one of the only two billing slots on a poster, and while it's great that Jodie Foster is headlining a sci-fi pic, I find just two names to be very lackluster, especially with that poor tagline.

But The Butler gives us the name of the actor portraying its subject, Forest Whitaker (love that guy!), as well as Oprah Winfrey - who plays the subject's wife - before rattling off the rest of it impressive cast in alphabetical order. Do you see how many reasons they're giving you to watch this movie?...

I should stress that you can’t tell anything about the ultimate quality of either film from their posters, but at least the one for The Butler doesn’t feel super-simple and gives you some idea what you're in for...


  1. I actually really dig The Butler's new poster. The original one was kind of meh. Lessee how the movie goes. Sometimes super-American movies get annoying for me *cough*Lincoln*cough

    1. It's impressive, right? The more I looked at it, the more I like it - I didn't even need to compare it to some other, lackluster poster.

      Trust me, my friend, sometimes super-American movies get annoying for me too, and I'm proudly a first-generation American. (I didn't even see Lincoln because I'm trying to take a Spielberg break)


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