Mike Bryan RoboCop (1987) poster comp illustration
The last several years have been good ones when it comes to TV and movie posters. Even if the movies/TV series said posters were promoting didn’t always light up the box office/TV screens, none-the-less designers offered crops of nice posters to marvel over. And while this year wasn’t a “bust” whatsoever creatively, it wasn’t the best year for movie/TV posters either.
Still, there were a few nice posters to choose check out.
I didn’t like the movie The Amazing Spider-Man whatsoever. I didn’t like it so much I’ve yet to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But I don’t take into account how the movie did at the box office when making this list, just how the final poster/campaign turned out.
While the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man were dark and dreary, the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seem to be awash in bright, comic book colors. I really like how the action is portrayed on the posters. Sometimes we see Spidy’s back, other times he’s head on or from the side. Each pose is different and the action scenes are askew from the normal horizontal/vertical plane adding a lot of interest to the visual element.
The poster campaign for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) was alright. Posters for that movie ranged from just the title of the film, to ape Caesar with his arm raised to a closeup shot of computer 3D created Caesar’s face. What was interesting with this Rise of the Planet of the Apes closeup poster was that the designers were confident that totally computer generated Caesar was going to hold up even at close viewing to warrant his mug on a movie poster.
And the designers of the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster took this design element and ran with it, this time featuring closeups of Caesar as well as some of his ape minions on posters for that film. If the poster for Rise featured a somewhat pensive and curious Caesar, then the posters to Dawn features a much more mature Caesar who’s in charge and is not someone to be messed with.
I’m a big fan of the TV series Halt and Catch Fire and was excited to see the series the second I saw the poster and other marketing materials for it. Mimicking the corrupted computer screen/something’s in the image even if I can’t quite tell what it is look of the opening credits to the show, the poster for Halt features the leads of the show on a red nuclear-blasted/neon landscape. The real kicker here is the tagline, “The battle for CTRL begins.”
I thought the poster last year to the TV series Veep was one of the best of the year and think the poster this year is pretty darn good too. Here we have Vice President Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and co crossing the Delaware ala George Washington. Except that whereas Washington’s crossing was presented as heroic, Meyer’s crossing is anything but. Some of Meyer’s staff members fawning over her, others checking their e-mail and some are trying to drown one and other with Meyer looking her best with the brilliant copy, “Boldly running for President, proudly standing for everything” above.
I try to avoid limited-edition posters that are more directed towards fans and collectors rather than the public since I don’t think it fits with the spirit of this list. But I thought that the limited Imax poster to RoboCop did deserve mention here. I love almost everything with this poster from its harsh two-toned look to RoboCop’s prime directives listed out on the poster.
I only wish more designers of the main posters for movies and TV series would take a cue from this RoboCop poster and try something different than to keep recycling what they’ve done in the past.
That being said – these days traditionally illustrated posters are the rarity rather than the norm they were a few years ago. That’s why I dig the poster for Inherent Vice so much. It’s hand illustrated to the point that you can see some of the brush strokes. While lots of limited edition posters are illustrated this way these days only a few mainstream ones are. Which, if how well the poster to Inherent Vice turned out is any indication, more should be.
How funny is it that while the movies RoboCop, RoboCop 2, RoboCop 3, the TV mini-series RoboCop: Prime Directives and the 2014 RoboCop are all set in Detroit yet as far as I can tell not a single frame of footage from these projects was actually filmed in Detroit. Those were shot in placed like Dallas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston and Toronto. How hard would it be to throw Detroit a bone and actually film something RoboCop there?
≽ Bert Ehrmann
One thing I’ve always been interested in with movies and TV is the idea of what creators from the past thought their future was going to be like. It’s like with the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Back in 1968 when writer Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick projected out 33 years into their future they took into account all of the things that were happening around them like sending man into space and then to the moon in just a few short years. To them, if we could do all that just think of all the wonderful things we’d be doing three decades in the future. Surly by 2001 we’d have space stations (correct), corporations would be flying shuttles into space (not in 2001 but this is happening today) and we’d have a colony on the Moon and sending astronauts to Jupiter would be doable (we’re no where near this even today).
But where Clarke and Kubrick looked ahead and saw a wonderful future the creators of some sci-fi films of the 1980s and early 90s thought their futures would be crummy. The producers of the three RoboCop movies, RoboCop (1987), RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 (1993), looked forward a few years in their future and saw nothing but a world of mega corporations and out of control crime engaged in urban warfare with the police.
In the world of RoboCop the future Detroit is dominated by Omni Consumer Products (OCP) who now operates the police department among many things and intentionally keeps them chronically underfunded and understaffed. They see a weak police force as allowing crime to flourish in Detroit giving gangs control of the streets and allowing OCP to sell more things they make like RoboCop and the hulking ED-209 to governments desperate for a solution.
Crime has gotten so bad here that it’s more of urban, guerrilla war between heavily armed gangs and the police dept. And because the criminals are now armed to the teeth with things like machine guns and rocket launchers, the average Detroit beat cop now looks more like a modern day SWAT trooper issued with a combat helmet, body armor and machine guns of their own.
The first RoboCop has a gang lead by Clarence J. Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) blowing the city apart bit by bit and killing as many cops as they can in the process. This benefits OCP by driving up interest in their RoboCop project as well as their plan to create a new Detroit city on the ashes of the old. And in RoboCop 2 the cops are on strike and crime is totally rampant. The streets are ruled by drug pushers who blow up rehab clinics and gangs go around robbing whatever they can without consequences.
RoboCop 2 introduces a new villain, aptly called RoboCop 2, who at the end of the movie battles it out with Detroit’s finest as well as RoboCop too in scenes that are more akin to newscasts from the frontlines of the war in Vietnam than anything else.
Another film that looked forward and saw a it to be a time very bad for the police was Predator 2. That movie takes place in a 1997 Los Angeles where Colombian street gangs engage in an open street war with the police who don’t scare them a bit. They’re afraid of rival Jamaican gangs who like to use knives and machetes to do their dirty work. Here too the police are more like a heavily armed SWAT team with even detectives carrying big laser-aimed handguns.
It’s easy to see why the creators of these films thought their future cities would be full of roving gangs and running shootouts. Back in the late 1980s when these films were being conceived/created there was a sense that crime was out of control with street gangs blasting the streets of cities like LA and Miami. Projecting out from there, thinking about what was going to happen in the next decade or so would lead to a place like that of Detroit in the RoboCop films or Los Angeles in Predator 2.