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 movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website
The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website
The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website
The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website
The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

Two posters for the original movie from 1981

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

3 posters for Nicholas Sparks movies

And according to The Consumerist, the studios are officially out of ideas for Nicholas Sparks’ movie posters.

The movie poster on the Movie Maze website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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 movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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 movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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 on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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 on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

http://www.impawards.com/2010/kickass_ver15.html

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 movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The Losers logo designed by Steven Cook

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 HughesQuagmire 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.

Album covers by Steven Cook
Two album covers for Asian Dub Foundation using Payload.
Album covers by Steven Cook
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 Vertigo comics by Steven Cook
Logos for American Virgin and House of Mystery for Vertigo Comics
Logos for Vertigo Comics by Steven Cook
Logos for The Dead Boy Detectives and Death: At Death’s Door for Vertigo Comics
Logos for Vertigo Comics by Steven Cook
Logos for Deadenders for Vertigo Comics and Zatanna: Everyday Magic for DC Comics
Logos for Vertigo Comics by Steven Cook
Logos for The Losers and Blood & Water using Platelet for Vertigo Comics

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

The movie poster on the Internet Movie Poster Awards website

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.

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19 Comments:

  1. The supporting typeface used on the 300 posters is DirtHouse, by House Industries.

    Posted by Corey Holms on May. 13, 2010
  2. The last one, Please Give, reminds me a lot of Fenotype’s Billboard type as well. Pretty slick stuff.

    Posted by Steve Adams on May. 13, 2010
  3. Yves never ceases to amaze me – every word, every sentence of the comments is almost exactly what I thought on first glance about every movie poster presented. Not that I’m comparing my mediocre knowledge in typography to the almighty Yves’ one :)
     
    It was such a journey again, Yves – thank you.

    Posted by Ivan Philipov on May. 13, 2010
  4. Thank you for another nice edition, Yves. My only remark would be that the poster for The Perfect Game strangely does work for me. The typography kind of remind me of a moment in a sports match that is so action packed that you want to see it again, in slow motion, to completely get it. The titling make me do the same: in the first glance I see it, I realised I noticed something interesting but because of the tight letter spacing I didn’t get it completely, so I go back and watch it again, this time with more attention.
     
    I do understand how it can make typographers cringe though.

    Posted by Sander on May. 13, 2010
  5. Being new to typography and its intricacies, it was some journey for me. I would however disagree on The Perfect Game. In fact the previous commenter says it perfectly well in regards to encore moments in sports.

    Posted by Tuhin Kumar on May. 14, 2010
  6. The thing that struck me as particularly bad on the “After.Life” poster is the head strip on Liam Neeson. They didn’t even bother to use a different photograph, they just flipped it and put it in color instead of monochrome blue. Nothing in that poster works.

    Posted by Jeff on May. 15, 2010
  7. @ Sander & Tuhin Kumar:
    The learning process on these ScreenFonts posts works both ways – it is very interesting to hear your differing opinions. Personally I think what bothers me most is that Perpetua has quite long and sharp serifs. I would have preferred to see this kind of composition executed with a typeface specifically built for tight setting, like Nick Shinn‘s Nicholas for example.
     

    (…) DirtHouse, by House Industries.

    OK, they grunged up Helvetica Condensed and gave it a different name. Typical nineties scenario. ; )

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 15, 2010
  8. (…) every word, every sentence of the comments is almost exactly what I thought on first glance about every movie poster presented.

    Thank you for the kind words, Ivan. As most of the work is merely observing and analysing, it’s good to hear we are seeing the same things. This confirms I am not imagining things. ; )

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 15, 2010
  9. I totally agree with your opinion about The Perfect Game – the type is set incredibly tight. Definitely a rule breaker. I started this comment in defense of their choice, but as I kept typing, my annoyance meter kept rising. You’re absolutely right.

    Posted by Charlie Pratt on May. 16, 2010
  10. I’ve been without Screenfonts for a long time, it’s good to be back. The Kick Ass posters are great – I wished they had more of the propaganda posters. In the “We can do it” one, Hit Girl has no left arm!

    Posted by Brian on May. 17, 2010
  11. In the After.Life poster the names of Liam Neeson and Justin Long are in the wrong picture of each actor… typography was just the beginning!

    Posted by Ricardo on May. 27, 2010
  12. We’ve noticed this phenomenon in previous posters as well. It has to with the marketability of actors, and the fact that we read from left to right, but perceive the middle person as the most important one in a picture.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 27, 2010
  13. A possible explanation for the two concepts of “Date Night” was probably not insulting the audience but a case of playing to a particular audience. The more spartan of the two was the American poster, where Carrell and Fey are well known and can sell the picture themselves. In Italy they are not household names so the poster needed more graphic images and visual cues to sell the film.

    Posted by Martini Shark on May. 28, 2010
  14. I am quite impressed by your website. You are surely good at this. Maybe you could use more colours?I am just suggesting

    Posted by Jess on Nov. 9, 2010
  15. So does anyone know the name of the Clash of the Titans (2010) font?

    Posted by Libby on Nov. 12, 2010
  16. Bank Gothic; it says so in the text. : )

    Posted by Yves Peters on Nov. 13, 2010
  17. I think the best one is the Warlords everything blends so nicely and there is enough impact. The message is loud and clear and no matter in what language or what historical backround you understand that it is about an epic war.

    Posted by Julia on Apr. 1, 2011
  18. Why, Julia, you make such a convincing case about that Warlords poster that I sure will check those auto insurance quotes you’re advertising through your link. : P

    Posted by Yves Peters on Apr. 1, 2011
  19. I have to do some research as to why movie titles (composition) are placed at the top, middle, bottom, right or left etc of the screen. Can anyone help? Thanks

    Posted by Sharon on Apr. 11, 2011

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