ScreenFonts: Defiance, Inkheart, Donkey Punch, Taken, Entre Les Murs
I have been neglecting the ScreenFonts section a bit these past few months. On the other hand – it’s quite understandable after my goof in the last episode proper which all but destroyed any last shred of credibility I might’ve possessed. Time to get over it, so let’s pick up the thread and check on some print goodness from the dream factories (and boy do we need them in these dire economic times). Here are last month’s movie posters.
There’s nothing remarkable about the poster for Not Easily Broken, except that for once not Trajan was used but one of the alternatives – Shàngó, a digitisation of Schneidler Initials. The movie title features the most surprising glyph in this design: the Y which looks like V that has been extended downwards a little. The leg on the K was customised.
I’ve always found it bizarre that there can be such discrepancies between different localised versions of certain movie posters. I think it has to do with sloppiness and just taking whatever sits on the computer instead of researching/purchasing/installing the correct face. As major movies are increasingly marketed as brands with their own logo, graphic identity, and visual style, this is the equivalent of brand dilution, pure and simple. Take Defiance for example. I don’t know which was the original – the official website extensively uses Avenir throughout with a digitally extended Arial (double-urgh…) for the movie logo – but every one of the three poster variants sports a different typeface. What I think to be the original poster is the one with the extended Arial. Nice texture, lousy face (not Daniel’s – the movie logo ;).
Then there’s something fishy about the poster using all Avenir. It has the nicest typography of all three, but those perspicacious users of the International Movie Poster Awards forums noticed a distinct resemblance with the poster for North Country. There’s no fooling them, and it’s nice to know that there are geeks just like me in other areas as well.
I think the horizontal variant is the result of laziness. They saw that the original had lots of Avenir, so they picked the first geometric sans that looked like it. In this specific case it is Century Gothic, a common font which comes pre-installed in many Microsoft operating systems and software.
The movie poster for Inkheart looks pretty generic. Fair enough – it does what it is expected to do, but it all is predictable. As for the custom designed logo some shapes and connections look unbalanced, and I don’t care much for the metallic finish. Some swashes on the capitals remind me of Gábor Kóthay’s lovely Incognito/Terra Incognita.
More metallic type on the poster for Underworld. BLT & Associates botched up the customisation of Palatino quite badly. Shortening the middle bar on the “E” makes it look out of balance, and what did they think they were doing with the “W”? I think they overreached, and the drop-like downwards ear on the leg of the “L” would actually have been sufficient.
I usually quite like type that interacts with the image, but the movie poster for New In Town does a pretty poor job. The main problem is that Linotype Didot has far too delicate features to have them overlap Renée Zellweger’s silhouette – that initial “T” in “Town” is hard to decipher. Furthermore this disturbs the shape of her body, and results in a pretty jumbled up and messy image. I these instances I always treat the non-type shapes (here the silhouette of Renée’s body) as type and make sure the distance between these shapes and the surrounding characters match either the letter spacing or the word spacing in the font. Either that or I pick a typeface and colour that produces enough contrast to keep it readable.
The type in the movie poster for Taken interacts a lot better with the image. The image is ideally suited for this – in the photograph of a brooding Liam Neeson only the side of his face and his hands and gun are lit. This leaves a large dark area which leaves ample room for setting… one of the most inane and cliché revenge speeches ever. I like how the semi-transparent type lets the image through, but they shouldn’t have artificially stretched Univers Ultra Condensed. It makes the poster look cheap and slightly amateurish, and simply kills the design for me. The movie title is set in Bank Gothic, the preferred typeface for blockbuster action thrillers.
The poster for Donkey Punch is both well designed and well typeset. The narrative structure of the image is very clever. The top two thirds shows that the movie is about a group of club-going, drug-taking, irresponsible, young people partying on a boat, while the bottom part reveals that it actually is a horror thriller. Like I said the typesetting is picture perfect. The baseline of “Donkey” and the cap line of “Punch” are firmly locked on the division line, the cap line of “Donkey” corresponds with the horizon, and the bottom right corner of the “Y” stem neatly meets with the top left corner of the “P”. As far as interaction between image and type goes this one is by far the best of the three. The flare of the setting sun opens up a nice area and lets the legs of the partying youth fade away so the word “Donkey” remains perfectly legible. And the hand underwater smearing “Punch”, making the letters dissolve as if it were blood is a touch of genius. But why why why Arial? There are so many decent alternatives.
I wrote about it on Unzipped and I’ll say it again – I’ve simply had it with all lowercase Helvetica being the corporate style of intellectual movies that are intended to win awards at film festivals. It’s just as opportunistic, lazy and boring as is Trajan on blockbusters that are intended to win Oscars at the annual Academy Awards. Anyway, perfect documentary style picture on the poster for Entre Les Murs, with impeccable use of the five pupil’s paintings on that vibrant turquoise wall to literally support and underline the movie title. Very nice poster, shame about the type.
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