53 – How to judge a film by it’s cover

Recently I’ve been in certain stores that have a DVD aisle and I have browsed the DVD’s to find a film that looked worthwhile watching. There are a few certain aspects I look out for if I haven’t heard of the film before that help me decide.

The first thing that can turn me instantly away from buying a film is when on the DVD cover it shows a 5 star rating of just 4, or even lower. A DVD cover’s job is surely to look as attractive as possible to appeal to customers so they buy it, one of the ways DVD’s achieve this is through quotes from newspapers, magazines and web pages. So you would think whoever designs the cover would find the BEST quotes possible and if the best quote possible for the cover is a 4 star rating then it worries me. Now say if this 4 star is from a very credible source like a well respected (which is becoming increasingly rare when it comes to Britain) newspapers then a 4 star rating may still be credible itself and still encourage me to buy it. But what always goes through my head is that they (the cover designer) have been unable to find someone who thinks the film deserves a 5 star rating, which considering films are judged objectively is worrying. So the four star becomes the maximum rating for the film in my mind but as it has been picked deliberately to sell the film it is very likely that it will not be relative to the most likely quality of the film.

Probably more important is the design on the box, if it is a really interesting design showing recognisable actors perhaps or a unique style then I will be increasingly likely to buy it. Take the Inception cover which coincidently has a 4 star rating on the front but I did specify that I only check the star rating for films that I haven’t had prior knowledge of.


Now this cover I would say is very enticing as it shows Leonardo Dicaprio who has become a very likeable and reliable lead actor, it also shows the world around him and the rest of the group bending around them which helps to intrigue the viewer and make them want to know why that would be happening and simply looks really interesting which will make someone want to buy it.

One strange thing is what I noticed on the cover for Unkown starring Liam Neeson which shows Neeson holding a gun, seen below.

unknown2dwhich is odd as at no point in the film does Liam Neeson hold a gun but I imagine that they used this image because people expect Liam Neeson to be in big action films where he will most likely shoot a lot of people like one of his most famous films Taken and even the quote at the top shows that the producers of the film are aiming this at the audience of Taken and trying to encourage and reach out to them people to buy this film. However the film itself is nowhere near as brutally brilliant as Taken as the cover is so desperately trying to make it seem.

Yet again the 4 star rating pops up in Unknown but unlike Inception this almost proves the theory that the 4 star is the maximum rating and is the first warning sign, Unknown was probably around the 3 star rating in my opinion as it started off really good and had a great twist, very similar to Bourne Identity in fact but never took the story anywhere else and just became quite generic by the end of the film.

Lastly there are some key phrases that if they appear on the box then it’s best to avoid the film at all costs. These are the following:

“From the people that brought you Scary Movie”


“Starring Adam Sandler”

Now you have my advice you can go and buy DVD’s and avoid the bad films. That is if DVD’s still exist any more. I should probably do a blog on how to judge a film by it’s app icon to be more current. DVD’s are soon going to be like the narrative in Battleship, non existent.