Let's talk promotional art for film. I was browsing a megastore last night, and as I am wont to do, I flipped through the discounted DVD's for any gems I didn't own. (Hey, I'd buy any ol' crap on celluloid if they discounted it deeply enough.)
I ran across a film that I had seen that hadn't impressed me. The artwork, however, grabbed me again. So this had me thinking:
What are some of your favorite movie posters? Have you ever watched a film based on its poster? Were you disappointed by the film in the end?
In no particular order, here are five off the top of my head:
#1 Art of War: To me, this is everything that a film poster should be. It features the central character without a lot of background "noise." Its tagline "hooks" you in and stays with you after you view the poster ("Do you know who your enemy is?"). You know the title of the film, you know its star, and best of all, since the film is designed to be a "high-octane, adrenaline" film, the hero is shown in motion so gracefully, you would swear he's moving. The kinetic energy is undeniable. Too bad the movie sucked.
#2 Reservoir Dogs: I have a confession to make. I'm not a convert to the Tarantino religion. True Romance is a personal favorite and a vastly underrated film; otherwise, I think Tarantino is too derivative of better auteurs. Having said that, what a movie poster! It draws your eyes in; you can't look away! When you look at these guys, you know they're bad news. You ought to stay away from them. Their menace is palpable right through the poster! Not even the lousy frickin' grammar ("Lets [sic] go to work") can detract from my enjoyment.
#3 The Godfather Part III: From the unsettling tagline ("Real power can't be given. It must be taken.") to the gorgeous sfumato image of Don Michael Corleone at his most powerful, most arrogant, most chilling, this one's a winner, top to bottom. You're a fan, you've been waiting years for the last film in the trilogy. What more does it need to convey?
#4 Hard Boiled: The Hong Kong teahouse scene in John Woo's Hard Boiled is possibly one of my favorite action scenes put to film, ever, and the scene captured for the DVD cover is a major contributor. Hard-nosed cop "Tequila" comes under attack at the top of a flight of stairs, and nearly trips over the banister. Rather than take the spill and lose his life, he slides down the banister, guns blazing, and turns defeat into a personal victory. A magnificient moment that I'm glad was chosen for the DVD cover.
#5 GoodFellas: Rarely since this poster have I seen one that so perfectly conveys the main characters' states of mind: Robert DeNiro's Jimmy both cocky and paranoid, Ray Liotta's Henry pensive and Joe Pesci's Tommy emotionless and sociopathic. A masterpiece.
Runners-up for next time: A Perfect Murder, Akira, Miller's Crossing, Empire Records(!), Before Sunset, The Matrix Reloaded, Star Wars: A New Hope