Movie Marketing Madness: Lord of War

Nicholas Cage seems to reinvent himself with each movie he makes. He’s made a career of playing characters who were just slightly off-center, just different enough to make them stand out from the crowd. Sometimes he’s done that subtly, such as in “Raising Arizona.” Sometimes he’s done so not so subtly, like in “Con Air,” where it’s as if he’s actively daring the audience to punch him in the crotch. Either way his performances are rarely boring (really only The Family Man comes to mind in this area) and even when he’s over the top you get the sense he’s still thinking about what he’s doing.If “Lord of War” lives up to the promise of its marketing campaign it may be Cage’s best movie yet. He plays an international arms dealer with little to no conscience about what he does – he’s just after the profit.

The Poster

OK, these may be two of my all-time favorite posters. The teaser and theatrical versions certainly combine for one of the best one-two punches in recent memory. Too often the teaser poster looks cool only to have the theatrical disappoint but these are both solid.

The teaser simply spells out the name of the movie. From far away there’s nothing odd about it. It’s not until you get closer that you see the letters are made up of hundreds of rifles and guns, giving the words a slightly jagged edge. The theatrical version takes that to the next level, actually sculpting Cage’s head and jacket from missiles, bullets and guns. As impressive as this is from a graphic design standpoint, what’s doubly impressive is how they captured Cage’s thousand-yard stare. It’s a very impressive poster set both creatively and in the sense of actually capturing the subject. In that regard it’s almost a work of art.

The Trailer

As I mentioned, Cage has a tendency to get a bit hammy when surrounded by any sort of special effects. There are those in this trailer but he keeps his performance surprisingly toned down. There’s no big scenery-chewing moment here, just character background and a couple of pretty funny one-liners.

The trailer opens with Cage wondering how he can sell money to the 11 out of 12 people on the planet who don’t currently own a gun. He also boasts that he’s supplied firearms to every army on the planet “except the Salvation Army.” We then get into watching him be pestered by law enforcement officials, including one played by Ethan Hawke taking a break from brooding. He also has to dodge the occasional bullet from a disgruntled client or competitor while not telling his wife what it is he really does. One of the things I love most about the trailer is the way the actors’ names are written on the side of a helicopter which gets shot up. It’s not especially original but the execution in the midst of the rest of the trailer makes it work very well.

The Website

Much of the website is your standard fare. For a movie this original I was hoping for something better but websites continue to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop creatively.

“Media” is an awfully fancy way to say Trailer and TV Spots. The TV spots all draw much of their footage from the trailer. They’re pretty good but without the extra time the trailer has to flesh the story out a little they don’t work quite as well. “Production” houses all the little bits and pieces on how the movie was made and what everybody thinks of it now that they’ve made it. Synopsis presents the story of the movie in a very factual no-nonsense kind of way. It makes it sound a lot less interesting than the trailer does, which is a little disturbing. There’s also Production, Cast and Filmmakers and you can probably guess what’s in those sections.

“Story” repeats a lot of what was in the Synopsis but in a slightly more interesting manner. It seems the guns Cage’s arms dealer got came as a result of the break up of the Soviet Union. In “Downloads” you get a Screensaver, Icons, a couple of Wallpapers and even an iron-on. I’m still unclear as to how these iron-ons you print out from the internet work but luckily I don’t care. There’s also a brief video showing Nicholas Cage apologizing publicly for “Face/Off”. There are about a dozen pictures in the “Gallery.”

The best part of the site is “The World of Yuri Orlov.” That’s the character Cage plays and this feature takes you around the world to show what makes a good arms dealer and a good arms buyer. It also provides a brief look at the political situation in the region. It’s a great primer on the world of the movie and for flicks like this an invaluable resource. By providing that back story people who visit the site will get more out of the movie and potentially enjoy it more.

Overall

Great trailer, great posters and an alright website. That’s more than most movies nowadays have going for them. What I’m getting from the trailer, and even from the posters, is that the movie is fast-paced and fun but has something serious to say about dealing with the consequences of your actions. I love that Cage actually looks like he’s acting and not just coasting through the role like he sometimes does. All in all I think it looks like a great transition from summer crap to the more serious fare of fall.