We’ve been trained to believe the first four months of the moviegoing year are like the contents of a Diaper Genie: carefully wrapped, conveniently disposable bundles of mess. But some of the messes will be hits, and some of those hits will have posters, and some of those posters will work. They’ll make you stop and say, “Where do I sign to give you my hundred minutes?” Some’ll make you say, “B’wahahahaha. Good luck with that.”
But you’d be a fool to say so. Movies don’t need luck. They need an Internet wildfire and big marketing bucks (hopefully, to come up with good art). Good posters still happen. They do! Here’s where we currently stand with what we see when we stand in a megaplex line.
This poster looks like it’s telling the entire movie. It also looks like a lot of other movies. Is this guy really working in a coal mine before he turns into the sort of person who stands on balconies and throws open his arms to a blinding sign for Britain’s Got Talent? This guy is probably some kind of tear-jerking singer, but it’s not entirely clear. It seems a lot more interesting when you think he goes from hard labor to first-world dictatorship in four acts.
Opens: February 7
To be fair: These two can’t see the pair of sentences hovering above them. Rose and Jack didn’t know the Titanic was doomed, either. But letting history be our guide here, it’s, like, 79 AD. You’re living life in your cute Roman hamlet with your boo. That life is at the base of a volcano. That volcano is primed to erupt. The eruption still charts near the tippy top of Earth’s worst natural disasters. Maybe you and your boo just don’t know what the volcano is all about. Maybe you get that you’re better off just standing there and making out, because who outruns fireballs and pyroclastic flow? But we’d take the image of people running for their lives over a pre-burn tongue bath, because death by heat is only literally hot.
Opens (in 3-D): February 21
What are we supposed to do with this? Some of Forest Whitaker’s hairy face, some of Anthony Mackie’s. Sanaa Lathan in the lower right corner on what appears to be a land line, Mike Epps up in the left corner looking as anguished as Mike Epps is capable of looking. It’s impossible to know what’s really going on here, but obviously something bad has happened. The panels featuring the actors’ faces look ripped or broken. “You can’t take back a lie,” says the tagline. I’m going to guess that since Lathan is down at the bottom, looking fierce and on the phone, the lie ends there.
Opens: February 28
Son of God
“Behold me. See my beautiful blue eyes. See my face and salon hair swathed in muslin. I know. I do look fabulous. But my fabulousness is not the point. I am here to die for your — excuse me? What? Ha ha ha. That was a peal of laughter at your uproarious question. Brad Pitt wishes! And no, I’m not in Pompeii, either. That was, like, so many years after. I’ve come unto you to speak of divinity and you hector me with pettiness. Look, you guys, I’ve come to take away the sins of — what now? Tarzan? Oh, Jesus Christ.”
Opens: February 28
The Grand Budapest Hotel
There are dozens of different approaches to poster art. I’m partial to the ones used here. Yes, it’s for a Wes Anderson movie. Looking good enough to eat is almost a moral obligation. And yet there’s ingenuity in equating a Slavic chalet with a giant cake and having the names of the film’s stars floating above it like holy sprinkles. On the one, it captures the precious agony of the Anderson experience: It’s all pastry! On the other, it embodies the ecstasy, too: It’s all pastry! Loving Anderson isn’t a requirement for appreciating this poster. Loving gluten? Maybe.
Opens: March 7
I saw this poster and leapt for joy: Thank god someone has given Kurt Russell a movie to command. I went to inspect the credit line for the names of the chiseled faces and cornrowed heads flanking him and didn’t see Russell’s name anywhere. But who’s the big, middle-aged dude with the intimidatingly fatless face whose frown is set at “chewing tobacco”? It’s … Schwarzenegger. Yes, my heart sank. Who’s asking for more heavily armed Arnold? But I stood in front of the poster a little longer and felt its tension. Everyone – even the androgynous cartoon on the far right – looks so tough, so dangerous, so Set It Off.
Opens: April 11