They’ve got character

Welcome to my new blog.  Rather than give the token “Hello World”, or “Testing 1,2, testing’, or ‘Is this thing on?’ opening post, I thought I’d just start by talking about the newly released set of Star Wars Episode VIII character posters.

lastjedicharacter

When I came across these last week, I initially thought my browser hadn’t opened the images up correctly as I couldn’t see the top of their heads.  I then realised that this was a stylistic cropping choice made by someone. Nice, I thought.  It gives them an eerie edge, strongly suggesting that the film may echo this.  Then there’s the red.  Lots of red.  If you’ve seen the first trailer (which I’m sure most have), we know that red features heavily in one particular shot and that it was a very deliberate choice made by director Rian Johnson (not to mention the Star Wars title being red this time round).  And finally there’s the rough, brush stroke cut-outs at the bottom, complementing the noisy off-white backgrounds.

These are bold posters made with bold (and some would say even brave) decisions.  I, for one, rather like them.  However, I’ve already seen quite a bit of backlash out there on the web.  I didn’t realise it until one critic mentioned it, but they are remarkably similar to the Matrix Reloaded character posters from 2003.

Matrix

As you can see, the framing of the characters is identical.  The red has been swapped with a subtle green.  And the background kept bright white.  But of course, these were made nearly fifteen years ago.  My gut reaction was that they actually look very similar to the work of illustrator Rob Prior, whom’s work I first came across when it featured in the Art Awakens competition in 2015.

Rob Prior

I can certainly see why these would divide opinion.  It’s unusual for a big budget film to be a little different with its marketing.  Judging by the recent Spiderman Homecoming poster (which is truly awful), we’re used to seeing conventional photoshop montages that feature as many characters as possible.  I even remember the final The Force Awakens poster got criticised for not featuring enough characters on it as it was sans Luke, although we were then quickly told there’s a reason for that which became clear after seeing the film.  These Last Jedi posters are pretty minimal, even with the number of colours on show.

I have no real conclusion to this post.  We all have different ideas and visions, which leads us to form our opinions. I also feel that character posters serve a different purpose than the final movie poster, and while design consistency is nice to see, and at times essential for a marketing campaign, I think the opportunity to give us something different has been well utilised at the right time.  I sense that someone’s had a lot of fun putting these together and that is no bad thing.

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