Thursday, 31 March 2011

Limitless Poster Campaign

Accessing 100% of your brain is now possible with the clear pill.

Curiosity is a wonderful thing. The new Neil Burger movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Abby Cornish and Robert DeNiro ticks the box as one that will entertain, but not necessarily inspire generations. The movie centres around Eddie Moora (Cooper) a writer lost in limbo, unable to become motivated. Offered ‘the clear pill’ as an attempt to try something new, he acquires almost super human abilities and is able to reach what he believes to be his full potential – brilliance, wealth and power. However not all pills are good for you, and so the loss of control ensues.

The poster campaign however, in which Bradley Cooper is seen to endorse the ‘clear pill’; one that will ‘unlock your potential, to become the perfect version of yourself’ is a great example of marketing campaigns that work, one that thinks outside the box. It’s an idea that has worked before, helping to generate hype around the movie. Made to look like many of the countless self help posters out there on buses, tubes and other forms of public transport, these advertising campaigns are in many ways comical, and are employed to not only sell an idea, but to help the onlooker create a better version of themselves, whilst also diverting attention away from fellow commuters.

The satirical poster boasts many side affects, including paralysis, psychosis, amnesia, homicidal blackouts and sudden death-at which point if you’re reading this advert in a smog ridden daze, all becomes clear that things are not as they seem. For the marketing campaign, it’s created a buzz and interest in a movie that a full blown publicity shoot may not have. There are other movies in the past that have played with marketing and paved the way for Limitless to follow suit, including Daren Aronofsky’s drug addled drama Requiem for a Dream, where the morality of the four central leads is explored through their different forms of addictions. A lot of hype was generated through the interactive website. Internet users can explore Aronofsky’s Coney Island world through the site designed to mimic the game show addict Sara Goldfarb (played by Ellen Burstyn), whilst finding ‘Easter eggs’ that explain the movie in greater detail and allowing users to draw further conclusions. Richard Kelly’s 2001 indie hit Donnie Darko also follows the interactive website route, which in many instances paved the way for a marketing campaigns to branch outside the norm.

TV shows have also played with interactivity, like the hit ABC show Lost, where viewers were encouraged to interact with each other on the official site and become a part of the narrative, trying to solve the mystery behind the Island. Where many shows and movies overkill their marketing, a few have increased the hype by having as little advertising as possible, relying on word of mouth and the relentless nature of fans. Take the new JJ Abrams movie Super 8, due for release this summer, in which gradually more and more information is divulged through various teaser trailers, offering very little in terms of plot, characters or who’s starring in it, all techniques employed to maximise interest, and minimize disappointment. No one likes to know the whole plot before they even set foot in the movie theatre.

Movies like Limitless come and go-they’re derived to give our retinas a little workout and enjoy some classic entertainment. But every now and then an interesting marketing campaign will coincide with a release, shaking the industry and our mundane commute up a little bit, reminding us why we love and buy into these movies in the first place.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Prodigy 'World's On Fire' (2011) Review

The Prodigy’s World’s on Fire film mainly comprises of live footage from their Warrior’s Dance Festival shot on location at Milton Keynes Bowl, their biggest ever solo draw, in the summer of 2010. The film opens as a mini documentary shot around South America during 2009 as the band, consisting of founder Liam Howlett, Maxim, Keith Flint, drummer Leo Crabtree and touring guitarist Rob Holliday discuss what’s required to put a show together as they embark on their latest tour. The trouble with this film is that it’s torn between two realms - documentary town and live footage city, together they don’t sit comfortably and would genuinely work better flying solo. Used together for World’s On Fire and the two briefly jeopardise the other, the direction is not clear, but only briefly. As the footage from Milton Keynes could in no way be eclipsed at all. When you watch the film (which you should) you’ll see why.

What makes World’s on Fire different from what has become an influx in ‘one night only’ live footage films ranging from Foo Fighters to Muse to Green Day, is that whilst watching The Prodigy perform to epic proportions their ear bleeding anthems, including Breathe, Invaders Must Die, Omen and Take Me To The Hospital, the fast paced editing and in some cases, point of view shots from both band and crowd alike, is that you really feel a part of the experience. Literally. My eyes were viscerally violated, A Clockwork Orange style, except I felt entranced under the sheer ferocity, unable to blink for fear I’d miss a snippet of footage. I was captivated by the energy of both band and crowd alike, the interaction between both and their determination to party, and party hard, with a legion of super fans astounding. At one point a circle pit of doom formed, like the fourth circle of hell, fierce and uncompromising. The film completely captures the cataclysmic atmosphere of The Prodigy at their peak, and at many points with such extreme close ups of each members’ eyes, you get the feeling they know this too.

World’s On Fire is fast paced, extreme, and an unapologetic assault into why The Prodigy have annihilated the electronic dance scene over the last twenty years, and for one night only, should not be missed.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Eagle (2011) Review

Originally published in Screenjabber.

The Eagle is an epic Roman adventure set in the year 140AD and follows the Roman commander Marcus Flavius Aquila (Tatum) recently discharged from the army due to injury. Dissatisfied, Aquila goes on a quest with his slave Esca (Bell) to find the truth behind his father’s disappearance, after he led 5,000 men of the Ninth Legion and Rome’s symbolic totem golden eagle into the unknown territory of Caledonia twenty years prior. Neither the legion nor the eagle retuned, disgracing Aquila, his family and Rome.

Shot on location in a very bleak and cold Scotland, director Kevin MacDonald, whose previous movies include The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, really focuses on The Eagle as essentially a childlike buddy adventure movie, with refreshingly no female leads to both detract from the action, and take this movie into a completely different direction. There are not many epic action tales of late that do not try and market a movie as both action and romance, making it a good all rounder that all can enjoy. The Eagle makes no apologies that this is a movie really geared to let the inner 10-year-old child’s imagination run wild. There’s fisticuffs, battles, friendship and honour all poured into one that many grown-ups would have acted out as kids with sticks in their back gardens.

The cinematography is beautifully gritty, and with fast cuts and lots of extreme close-ups during the fight sequences to really hark home the nature of the movie. Adapted for the screen from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel of the same name, this as a three parter, allows a glimmer that there may be sequels, or future parts to follow, but each one with a different lead. The Eagle isn’t for everyone, and if you’re after a movie that has romance, action and adventure, then I say you should rent the brainless Troy. But if CG fight sequences aren’t for you, and you’re after a refreshing take on a classic Roman epic, then The Eagle might very well be for you. The leads Tatum and Bell, both originally from dance backgrounds, appear to be making a conscious effort to step out of their comfort zone, and push each other further physically to prove their muster. While at times the acting can appear a little secondary, there’s no denying that there’s a strong friendship on screen between the two, and that’s one of the main themes that shines through The Eagle.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

SCRE4M (2011) Feature

What’s your favourite scary movie?

Scre4m is due to hit cinemas in April this year, Wes Craven’s latest teen slasher vehicle, driven at the helm by a cast of old survivors - on screen spouses Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers and David Arquette’s Dewey Riley, and of course the toughest victim to kill Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott. What makes Scre4m a cut above the other three Scream’s perhaps is the arrival of new blood; including Emma Roberts as Sidney’s hapless cousin Jill, Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed, and Rory Culkin as Charlie Walker. From the outset, the draw of the new blood appears to be a re-working of old successful characters from the previous three movies. However Scre4m isn’t a remake, far from it, the movie is most definitely a sequel to Scream 3 and deliberately takes on the horror genre’s recent bout of remaking yet not re-imagined classics. Scre4m seems to be taking the franchise further down the path of what horror sequels can achieve.

With the movie poster’s tag line declaring ‘New Decade, New Rules’, the bar has been raised to what we can expect from the latest instalment from the Craven empire. Welcoming back Kevin Williamson on screenplay duties, having written the first two Scream’s and with Ehren Kruger taking over on the third, it appears that Scre4m is also returning to its origins, in front and behind the camera. Classic horror movie dynamics are now broken, changed and manipulated to mark new beginnings for the teen slasher genre, bringing it into the new decade. So the question is will a fourth instalment putting void to all previous rules be a welcome return to a franchise that relied so heavily on the loyal audiences’ and character’s knowledge of horror codes?

Scre4m is also about passing the torch from the old to the new, with the new victims (Culkin, Roberts and Panettiere) enlisted to bring a fresher and younger audience to the franchise, with many of Scream’s original fans now well above the average age of the teen slasher market. What can be said about the much hyped trailer and anticipated release is that whilst Craven is making a conscious effort to turn the teen genre on its head - paving the way for new codes, expectations and parodies to be followed, (now virgins can die!) he’s actually reinventing the genre and allowing it to start all over again, without remaking it. What’s always been of great interest in a genre where the killer always has a motive that’s usually explained away in the closing third is that in the Scream franchise, the killer is never the same. So with new rules, new victims and possibly the start of a new trilogy, which character will the killer be this time?