Monday, February 15, 2010

DVD Doppelgangers: Sin City Vs The Spirit, Max Payne And The Cutoff

Hey kids, it's time for another installment of the feature that's sweeping the internet by storm: "DVD Doppelgangers!" The post in which I call out deceptive studios and lazy designers who mimic more successful DVD covers in hopes of getting you to buy theirs!

First up, we have Sin City. One of the better comic book adaptations to come down the pike in the past few years, and one that proves you don't have to deviate from the source material in order to make a successful movie.

Oh, Sin City, DVD cover designers just lovvvvvve you. What would they do without you? Whenever they need to design a cover for a dark and gritty movie about urban violence and decay, all they have to do is take your cover and plug in a new title and stars.

Take The Spirit for example (please!). Same angled, hand-lettered title, rendered all in blood red. Same black background. Same desaturated, gun toting cast members, standing at an angle (although in a burst of creative originality, here the cast is angled in the opposite direction. Bravo!). And there're those muddy splatters along the bottom again. I guess the designer misheard grindhouse as grimehouse, and thought the layout needed some mud.

Frank Miller wrote the Sin City comics, and here he adapts Will Eisner's excellent The Spirit comic. The Sin City comic was drawn in a minimalist black and white style, while The Spirit was rendered in a more standard style, and in color. Stylistically they couldn't be farther apart. So I find it odd that Miller filmed The Spirit as a virtual clone of Sin City - high contrast, black and white with occasional spot colors. It's almost as if he wants the public to think it's a sequel. But Hollywood wouldn't stoop that low now, would they?

Then we have the cover for Max Payne, based on the popular video game series. Again, it's a violent and gritty urban saga, so of course we have the obligatory black background, tilted red title (typeset this time, instead of hand-lettered), and desaturated hero. This one even throws in some rain or sleet or some kind of weather to further mimic the rain-soaked Sin City cover.

One other thing-- this cover contains a typo. Right there under the title where it says "Unrated?" That should read "Unwatchable." I'm just saying.'

Hey, not so fast, we're not done yet! Next we have Cut Off. I haven't seen this movie and know absolutely nothing about it. The cover's not quite as blatant as the others, but there's an undeniable Sin City-ness about it. Probably something to do with the angled text yet again (yellow this time) and the desaturated, almost black and white femme fatale. This designer actually did get a little bit creative here, as he substituted a horizontal rain of bullets for the vertical downpour of the Sin City cover.

The Cut Off cover's DNA becomes a little more clear if we take a look at one of the alternate Sin City covers (there were five different ones - collect 'em all!), and one of the theatrical posters.

At this rate, I predict that by 2015 (if video stores are still around) a full 85% of all DVD covers will be variations on Sin City's.

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