Monday, September 26, 2011

ABDUCTION: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying That Gravity Existed.

Okay, take a look at this.

I know, I'm sorry.
It's actually kind of cool. Sliding down a building, holding a gun, about to do parkour on some girders to escape bad guys (see the trailer, below). They used Helvetica, it's got a tagline that could go for a courtroom drama, and Taylor Lautner has really thick hair. All good stuff.

But what's most importantly, is that his torso isn't bent at all. It's like he's cut in two right at his belly button and then pieced back together. I am certainly no expert, but I'd have to say that we're working with a minimum of three different bodies here: head, legs, and torso. But I definitely wouldn't be surprised if there were more. Apart from that, however, and the shards of glass exploding out from not-broken windows (again, see the trailer), it's not that terrible, right?

And that's when you notice the perspective, or confusing lack of it. Is it from the side, looking east to west, or from the ground, looking straight up at the sky? It's clear from the perspective of the buildings and the shape of the helicopter that we're looking at the sky, but then where or what is Mr. Lautner is sliding toward? Well ya see the thing about buildings is...... but you said...... my brain hurts. Unless they were purposely going Escher on us here, shouldn't it have looked a little more like this humble artists rendition?

The answer is yes, it should have. I mean, down is still down, isn't it? Did they change what down was and I missed it?

But this campaign isn't too invasive, being completely relegated to our lovely city's massive supply of  bench ads, where it's hard to see the mistakes of the one-sheet.

You guys want to see something really cool though? Watch this trailer for Abduction, and every time Taylor Lautner says a line of dialogue (not voice over), repeat it in your head as accurately as you can. It's hilarious. (Spoiler alert: he's a really bad actor.)

"You wanna play with no rules? You better be careful what you let out of the box."

So, I wrote a screenplay once, and because of that line, I'm gonna go kill myself now. Goodbye, everybody!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Drive Campaign is Simply Brilliant

I'll admit it. I put a lot of negativity into the universe the internet. Come on, I'm the one that tags my tweets #certifiedhater. I get it, I'm negative. But I'm not a cynic. I think lots of things are great. Unfortunately, out of all the great things, few of them are movie billboards.

I've had plenty of requests for more posts on ads that I do like, but to be honest, they just don't come up that often. And even most of the good ones aren't great, they just aren't terrible. However, there are some ads up right now (and not enough of them) that are truly great. Those for Drive.


The problem with great work, however, is that it's difficult to say much about it. To simply list everything that makes it great nearly ruins it. It's usually better to just behold. But if I must...

First and foremost, the title. For this type of movie, it would have been really easy to go with a font like this, or this, or this. Those first two are weak-ass. The third is meh. But this pink script is the not-obvious perfect choice. Juxtaposed against Brian Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and Ryan Gosling's collective H.A.M.-ness, it works perfectly.

The white frame also works wonders, allowing the hot pink script to spill over the image beautifully. The lighting and composition obviously play big parts in the success of these posters as well. However, it would be a stretch to call this unique series "original." These one-sheets immediately conjure thoughts of the 80's that lead not back to the 80's, but to 2006 and Marie Antoinette. A quick search yielded the following image:

Pretty similar. Still, I remember watching that trailer, seeing the hot pink title slap across the 18th century French aristocracy, and being completely impressed by how easily and immediately that put forth Sofia Coppola's thesis: that here was the first brat, the original "me" generation. (Is that right? I actually haven't seen it.)

Not sure what message the creators of the Drive campaign were trying to send, but it looks fantastic anyway. Take a look at some of the billboard images:

If you're a regular reader, you'll recognize LA is not OK's favorite thing: filling the frame without being too busy. It's clean, uncluttered, and so much better than a ton of white space. The tagline is similarly simplistic, and amazingly pun-free. To take it a step further, the first and third of these billboards are truly great because they start to tell a story. Not quite as well as say, The Hangover, but you do get a sense of situation here, an obvious conflict between characters. Also notable is that the star of the film appears in both of these, yet not only is he not the focus, he is hardly noticeable (in the scorpion jacket on top, the chin on the bottom).

Let's take a look at another campaign that did something similar, to show that it is possible to take it too far in the other direction.

These three images went up as billboards all over town for Crazy, Stupid, Love (albeit in English). They also start to tell a story, but a disparate one that without the context of the narrative, is less intriguing than it is confusing. Take the first of the Drive billboards. You think, they're getting onto an elevator, but there's going to be trouble. Now look at the Questo E Folle image. You know the sex fiend is going to bang the scared man, but especially in combination with the other two images here, as well as this, you have no idea what the tone of the movie is supposed to be. If you've seen it, you know they missed the mark. This campaign was actually on the higher end aesthetically, but the comparison to Drive shows just how solidly the former nailed it.

Unfortunately, Drive's main one-sheet is probably the weakest of the lot.

Still, even this poster *puts on sunglasses* is miles, ahead of the competition. YEEEAAAHHH!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Top Ten Uniforms in College Football, Pt. 1

The first thing you have to be aware of when compiling a list of the top ten uniforms in college football, is that for many teams, they change constantly. That makes dictating a definitive list difficult. Most of the best uniforms in college football belong to those tradition-rich schools that don't often change their branding, but that's not always the case. To quote Billy Costigan quoting Nathaniel Hawthorne, "College football uniforms are always rising and falling in America." Or something like that. I've noticed three basic trends in college football uniform design right now: some, like numbers nine and ten in this countdown, are moving from a modern look filled with various accoutrement, to a classic, cleaner look. Others go simply from one fat stripe and weird piping to another: the natural, inch-by-inch progression of broad trends in design. And still others have decided to eschew all good sensibility and instead drum up publicity for their program by going bat shit crazy. Got a perennial 7-5 team, ever on the cusp of breaking through to the next level? The answer's simple: wear a lot of stupid ugly uniforms. It worked for Oregon.

Also before getting into the countdown, I'd like to point out that my roommate has pointed out, somewhat with disgust, "I have never met anyone who talks about uniforms as much as you do." What can I say? I LOVE college football. And though my favorite part is when Ronnell Lewis runs into someone so hard that it sounds like their spine broke, I can also get excited about all the design elements that go into the game. Besides, my roommate only said that because he's never read Paul Lukas' utterly genius Uni Watch column on ESPN. That guy gets me, and makes me feel less weird about obsessing over uniform design. Lukas also has a personal Uni Watch blog, but I find it to be only slightly less tl;dr inducing than The New Yorker. Although I produced my list before reading this year's listing of every uniform change in the FBS, I'll be linking to some of Lukas' pictures, and I'm generally indebted to him for his awesomeness.

And without further ado, A-WAY we go!

10) Colorado

In the last few years, Colorado's uniforms haven't been anything special. A few years ago, they even suffered a bit of controversy for these for adding some textured whatchamacallits to their shoulders.

The fear was that they were somehow engineered to cause tacklers to slip off ball handlers, but to me they looked grippy, if anything. Anyway, they proved in whichever way that they provided no advantage, and wore them from 2007-2009, I believe. (Research showed that they definitely didn't have them in the 2005 Big XII Championship; results for the 2006 season came back from the lab inconclusive.)

Then, in 2010 (and I didn't even notice this until today!) they switched over to a more classic home jersey, dropping the shoulder grips, the gold piping, and the gold outline around the numbers, and changing the Colorado script to a large white font that matches the new large white numbers.

They also added some retro-looking shoulder stripes, moving the numbers from the side of the shoulders to the top. I think they look pretty slick. Much better than the last few years. Uni watch pointed out that one long-time problem for Colorado is that their helmets didn't match their pants. According to this picture, a comparison put together by Uni Watch, they've fixed the problem for the upcoming season. More than enough improvement to warrant a spot at the bottom of this list.

9) Boston College

Another team that would not have made this list before I read this year's Uni Watch. What used to look somewhere between terrible and average:

Now looks pretty fantastic.

They've ensmallened the numbers and removed the italics (a.k.a. made them legible), dropped the numbers from the shoulder as well as the eagle patch (which was itself only added a few years ago), and added a white stripe on the helmet (which I think looks good, but the fans seem to hate). I still can't tell what's on the shoulder, if anything, nor can I find any other pictures of the new digs. The answers will come this Saturday, but they're still clean as hell and I love 'em.

Up next.... teams 8 - however far I get!