ScreenFonts: Clash of The Titans, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Date Night, Kick-Ass, The Losers
Oh my goodness, what a lousy instalment of ScreenFonts this turns out to be. April saw an appalling lack of interesting posters, so I had to lower my standards a bit to gather sufficient material for a post-worthy edition. I originally hoped this one wouldn't take too long to write, so I could catch up on the late last episode. Eventually though I couldn't help myself but to try make it at least a teensy bit interesting.
Heck, I am running out of material for the introduction! Better get started then.
The collaterals for Clash of The Titans are indicative for what is to come this episode: posters that are either not good enough to praise, or not sufficiently poor to trash. Prepare yourselves for some lukewarm reviews. The solution for these specific posters really is a no-brainer. When committing epic Greek mythology to the screen, just use the mythical creatures and heroic battles to promote the movie. In order to prevent the designs from becoming too cluttered and noisy, the images were treated with a unifying colour wash. A warm golden hue was chosen for posters featuring the heroes of the tale, while the bad guys bathe in a cold blueish light.
To create a typical classic look Bank Gothic was given a three-dimensional appearance, as if it was chiseled in stone and gilded. I can't make up my mind if I would have preferred they had used one of the better faux Greek designs. Again, a safe text-book solution. Although the execution is flawless, I can't shake the feeling the designers at Midnight Oil Creative were painting by numbers.
Not so long ago 300 – Zack Snyder's movie adaptation of the comic book series by industry superstar Frank Miller – proved that you can use a less obvious typographic solution and still get across the right atmosphere. Instead of mimicking lettering carved in stone, the movie logo (designed by Miller's brother) rendered in blood splatters, and the tag line in a distressed Helvetica Condensed add to the sense of urgency and determination reflected in Gerard Butler's expression. By comparison the poster with Sam Worthington looks rather static. He simply has his mouth open, while he should be screaming his lungs out.
As this movie is a remake of the 1981 original I thought it'd be fun to throw in the vintage posters. Somehow they perfectly match the endearing stop motion special effects I remember from my childhood. Make no mistake, back then I didn't exactly find them endearing but FRIGGIN' AWESOME! ; ) On the left poster an incomprehensible chrome effect (chrome!?) and red extrusion was applied to some Friz Quadrata-like display face with spiky serifs. The iconic illustration was done by the legendary Hildebrandt brothers. Forgive me for being disrespectful, but despite the eye-popping colour I have the impression it falls a bit flat. To me it seems like it was lifted straight from an Italian pulp novel from the seventies.
I prefer the painting in the version on the right. Its diagonal composition makes it much more dynamic – see how the upwards movement of the Kraken is extended in Perseus and one of Pegasus' wings, while the horse's body and its other wing reinforces the diagonal created by the beams of sunlight. The triangular sea area cleverly accommodates all the type, so there is no need for that white band at the bottom. The movie logo is rendered in the same kind of chiselled and gilded typography like the modern version. Yet the peculiar character shapes and composition with the small stacked "of the" reminds me of advertising on mirrors in old pubs rather than ancient Greek lettering.
Floating heads hovering over a beach. I think Miley Cyrus' facial expression on the poster for The Last Song is one of the weirdest I have ever seen on a movie poster. If you're in for a chuckle, read this fun write-up on Cracked.com. I learned that:
Nicholas Sparks is an author who churns out about one romance novel a year.All of these books are almost immediately made into movies.All of these books essentially are the same book.
And according to The Consumerist, the studios are officially out of ideas for Nicholas Sparks' movie posters.
Floating heads hovering over a battlefield. Some more painting by numbers on the movie poster for Tau ming chong (The Warlords). The typography is equally uninspired – battle damaged Trajan with a heavy drop shadow. The original Chinese calligraphy is wonderful though.
Floating heads hovering over a train station. The international versions of the movie poster for Argentinian film El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) feature ITC American Typewriter instead of – again – Trajan.
Floating heads hovering over a scantily clad Christina Ricci. Oh boy, the poster for After.Life is further proof that the formerly Oscar-worthy Trajan really did get relegated to thrillers and horror movies.
The fourth instance of Trajan already this episode, in the movie poster for the umpteenth re-imagining of a classic horror/slasher film: A Nightmare on Elm Street. I have the impression I am repeating myself.
Like I said. The fracturing of Trajan in the movie poster for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) however is very well executed, with the proper amount of texture and variation. And the poster itself is genuinely unsettling.
However to be honest I find the grafting of Poetica onto Trajan in the movie poster for The City of Your Final Destination even more unsettling than the horrific story of The Human Centipede. This truly looks amateuristic. If I can give one piece of advice to Kaiser Creative: next time hire a professional letterer. And you counted correctly – there are six instances of Trajan in this edition.
It's a shame Tyler Perry has been grating my nerves with his lifted posters, because the teaser poster for Why Did I Get Married Too? has a nice concept. Merging a wedding ring with handcuffs gets the basic premise of the movie across quite efficiently. The actual design is rather sterile though.
Consistent with my remarks last episode the final poster is more standard comedy fare. The wide grotesque (yup, Big Red Text) is Standard Extra Bold.
This is a nice example of how a localised version goes about insulting the intelligence of its audience. Steve Carell's and Tina Fey's facial expression and the state of their clothing get the message across loud and clear in the movie poster for Date Night, without any unnecessary clutter. So there really is no need for all this static in the background in the Italian poster. We get it; we're not stupid.
Although it's not red, the type is the tired old Futura set in all caps.
The type in the movie poster for Letters to God is – hold on, wait for it, here it comes – an unholy mess. Indeed, I've just decided that lame posts should come with lame jokes. The cluster-type setting, the enlarged capital "L" in "Letters", the smaller "to", the halo creating a gap between the "G" and "d" … There simply are not enough letters and words in the movie title to pull off this kind of typographic composition. The worst offence in this train wreck set in ITC Avant Garde Gothic is of course the enlarged capital "L". The manipulation also increased its weight, making it look too heavy and out of balance. If they really really insist on doing this it would have been far better to extend the stem en the leg – I mean, it's a simple sans serif capital "L", how hard can it be?
The movie poster for Harry Brown uses a similar typographic device – also with ITC Avant Garde Gothic – yet does it with much more conviction. There is a clearer hierarchy thanks to the more pronounced differences in type size, and the composition at least makes sense. The red background is very interesting. A scene of urban violence is enclosed in Michael Caine's shadow. It works very well in contrast with the pristine white background, and the gritty white movie logo breaking out of the uniform black body shape.
The movie poster for Kick-Ass – the second adaptation of a controversial Mark Millar comic book series, the first one being Wanted – is quite inventive. By having the main protagonists dissolve in liquid-like gushes and splatters, Ignition Print manages to suggest extreme violence without having to show any of it. The bright colours of their costumes and the compact extra bold yellow on black movie title in the background help make this a striking design.
Four of the character posters stand out from the pack. They are spoofs of iconic World War II propaganda posters, and were treated with folds and creases to make them look like the real deal. Unfortunately the type is not historically correct – mainly Gotham with a smidgen of Lucian Bernhard in the bottom poster.
The other comic book adaptation to have hit the silver screens last month was The Losers. One movie poster is in fact one of the covers of Andy Diggle's comic book series drawn by its original artist Jock, while one of the teaser posters is a photographic interpretation of that same image.
One thing that immediately struck me when I saw the posters is that the movie studio kept the logo of the comic books. This very nice piece of custom lettering – check the "The" integrated in the counter of the "O" – reminiscent of Rian Hughes' Quagmire Bold Extended Italic was designed by Steven Cook. He and Rian started collaborating in the late eighties while working in the UK comic book industry. During his tenure as art director for 2000 AD until 2001 Cooke consistently commissioned Rian Hughes to design exclusive fonts, which alongside Cook's graphic style gave it a unique identity. Steven Cook also designed many comic book logos and album covers, often using Rian Hughes' typefaces. Below are some examples.
Two album covers for Asian Dub Foundation using Payload.
Album covers for William Orbit's "Strange Cargo III", and Last Man Standing's "False Starts & Broken Promises" using Zebrawood and English Grotesque.
Logos for American Virgin and House of Mystery for Vertigo Comics
Logos for The Dead Boy Detectives and Death: At Death's Door for Vertigo Comics
Logos for Deadenders for Vertigo Comics and Zatanna: Everyday Magic for DC Comics
Logos for The Losers and Blood & Water using Platelet for Vertigo Comics
Ohmygoodnesswhyonearthwouldyoueverwanttosetyourtypesoincrediblytight? The movie poster for The Perfect Game turns out to be the perfect typographic disaster. The elegant serifs and refined features of Perpetua horribly crash into each other. Claustrophobia strikes, the audience gasps in horror.
We end with a potentially good poster ruined by inconsistent execution. It seems like the designers couldn't make up their mind whether they wanted the movie poster for Please Give to be a tribute to Saul Bass or a contemporary photography-based design, and they ended up with neither. Their indecision resulted in a fragmentary collection of design elements of equal importance, each trying to claim the attention of the viewer.
The typography had potential though. The interlocking casual caps remind me of Ed Interlock, but I didn't manage to locate the font. I think it may be a freeware/shareware font.
Joph Broadcast Graphics
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