disastrous new dvd cover art

September 21, 2006

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While I have written about this issue before (albeit indirectly), seeing things like the above causes me renewed sorrow over movie studios’ uncanny ability to make even the visually fantastic summer films look insufferably boring as a packaged product store shelves. It is, to a point, a matter of aesthetic taste, but as a mediocre knockoff of the original’s only so-so design, the Pirates 2 cover nearly screams “we’re tackily-arranged disparate elements whose details have been all-but-erased by irrational and irresponsible airbrushing!”

When going the “floating head” route, as Disney did here, one must take care not to heighten the contrived nature of DVD covers in general by making the design look like an art project; a failure in this area, as this case most certainly is, eliminates any vague sense of artistry that the designer may have attempted to muster. It is a delicate art and a delicate balance, to be sure (hint: minimalism is usually best).

Moving on, Brandon Routh lived up to expectations in the title role of Superman Returns, but his awkward stare on the cover evokes not a whiff of the heroism personified by the character; Warner Bros. really ought to know better than to throw out the film’s amazing poster art, which in my eyes defines the film and makes Superman even more of an icon than seems logically possible.

Further, the film’s look was already dreamy enough without the aid of what appears to be a significant application of strategic blurring of edges and a large increase in color saturation probably designed to “intensify” the depicted scene, one of the more exciting in the film (though you wouldn’t know it from that shot); it looks much like a cartoon, and it’s anything but. For shame, you executives.

The purchase of these discs may be a foregone conclusion for most of the DVD-buying public, but “good enough” isn’t good enough any longer for the packages they come in. As big-budget, highly successful films, they deserve a lush design that, at the very least, represents the film without adding cheese. And it just isn’t happening.

–D. S. W.

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