House Logo

Immortals (#110 of 3)

Poster Lab: Man of Steel

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: <em>Man of Steel</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Man of Steel</em>

Though elegant and pristine in all its shadows and shimmer, the new poster for Man of Steel is an exercise in tedium, proving more unwelcome than exciting in a summer that just saw Spider-Man rebooted. Truly testing the limits of tolerance in a superhero-saturated culture, this design and the film it’s touting reek of yesterday’s news, like a back issue of the Daily Planet made into shiny papier-mâché. Admittedly, there’ve been far worse teaser one-sheets released on the world, and this one, conceived by the fine folks at P+A, already trumps the simple, gleaming “S” that first announced Superman Returns. Caught an angle that’s just right for showing off the Krypton native’s pectorals, this image is striking for its sharp attention to detail, specifically in regard to the work that went into that revamped suit. What we see stretched across Superman’s chest is more than just a familiar logo, it’s a texture emblematic of the new film’s title—the rubbery, unitard equivalent of chain mail. That’s a neat trick, and the costume designers are no doubt thrilled to have their labors front and center, but damned if this doesn’t echo the poster we just saw for The Amazing Spider-Man, another ad that zoomed in on the kinks of its hero’s armor.

The Conversations: 3D

Comments Comments (...)

The Conversations: 3D
The Conversations: 3D

Ed Howard: If there’s anything that can excite an impassioned debate among film fans, it’s the topic of 3D. The technology has been around for a long time in one form or another—the first 3D films were released in the 1950s—but its popularity tends to wax and wane, sometimes reaching peaks where it’s a huge fad and a box office draw, while at other times the technology falls into disfavor and disuse. We are currently, without a doubt, in the middle of one of 3D’s peak periods, and there are even those, like James Cameron, who argue that 3D is the future of film. It’s pretty rare these days for any big animated film or summer blockbuster to get released to theaters without being in 3D, and older hits from the Star Wars series to Titanic are being refitted and re-released with 3D effects grafted on.

Our entry point for this conversation is provided by the release of two 3D family/adventure flicks made by esteemed directors working in the 3D format for the first time. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin are very different movies, both in their own right and in how they use 3D. Scorsese’s latest work is a deeply personal (but also, paradoxically, uncharacteristic) ode to the early cinema, a formalist celebration of the joys of movies. Spielberg’s film, an adaptation of the beloved comics by Belgian artist Hergé, is arguably less of a personal work, a propulsive, often funny, action movie that hardly ever pauses for breath. Though both films share a certain witty European sensibility and both are family-friendly crowd-pleasers, it’s hard to imagine two more different movies in terms of tone: the breathless, wide-eyed wonder of Hugo and the kinetic, nearly slapstick violence and adventure of Tintin.

Precisely because these films are so different, and because they’re the product of two highly respected American directors rather than just two more disposable holiday-season spectacles, they provide a perfect opportunity to discuss the merits of 3D, to consider whether this technology really is, as filmmakers like Cameron seem to think, the future of film and a valuable aesthetic tool, or if it’s simply a faddy gimmick that’s cycled back into popularity before people get tired of it again. These films provide an interesting case study for these questions. One curiosity is that the brasher, louder Tintin arguably uses 3D effects much more subtly and minimally than the comparatively low-key Hugo, which suggests that 3D can easily be separated from the other elements of a film’s style and tone. I wonder if that disconnect between 3D and the rest of a film’s elements provides some proof for the viewpoint that 3D is an unnecessary gimmick rather than a truly vital means of expression.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Costume Design

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Costume Design
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Costume Design

While one hopes that those nominating for Costume Design will be keen to acknowledge the subtle ways that clothes complement character, like the vision obstruction caused by the bonnets in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff or the dirtiness of the period duds in Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier, history has certainly shown that pomp and spectacle win the day. And if your pomp and spectacle are housed in a castle setting, all the better. So look for Anonymous, the year’s flashiest bit of dolled-up royalty, to handily nab a slot here, if not the win. (There’s plenty of precedent for this, as The Duchess, another frilly film with minimal Oscar traction, took the trophy three years back, and Shakespeare in Love, which also showcased Elizabeth I in all her lavishly collared regalia, nabbed it in 1999).