Total Film vs Empire = Total Dilemma

Every month, I find myself faced with the same dilemma: Do I buy Total Film, or do I buy Empire?

And, no, buying both is not an option. Being a poor student with a bank account suffering unbearably from my magazine addiction, I’m obliged to enforce some amount of self-discipline with regard to my monthly magazine budget.

So, every time we get to that delightfully exciting point in the month when the new issues go on sale, you’ll find me stalking up and down in front of the magazine shelves at WHS, pulling out Empire and TF, respectively, scouring the contents, browsing the features, swapping magazines, scouring, browsing, swapping…and swapping some more.

If one contestant happens to have a beautiful woman on the cover, the battle is usually won at this point. (Yeah, I’m that easily swayed. Magazine covers with beautiful women just look too pretty on my wall.) If there are no beautiful women to be found – which is generally the case – the dilemma usually carries on for about a week and involves daily lingering in front of magazine shelves and drawing many suspicious glances from WHS/newsagents/supermarket staff.

But, seriously – how do you choose between Empire and Total Film?

So, Empire may beat TF big time in terms of sales figures. They’ve got some fabulous formats – watching the Hollywood titans make a complete fool of themselves by not being able to answer a few simple questions about their own films is just priceless. And even the Video Dungeon and those little “things we’ve learnt” blobs alone make buying the mag worthwhile. Having said that, I don’t particularly like Empire’s attitude towards people who (usually for good reasons) haven’t seen A Clockwork Orange. (Basically, in that case, you’re not worthy of the mag.) And, no, I’ll never get used to the orange/red/brownish design on the reviews pages. Blech!

Total Film
, on the other hand, may forever be cursed with a life spent in Empire‘s shadow. But it’s way more than the cooler little brother. For one, TF is published by the country’s most awesome publisher, Future (who I totally want to work for – and that has nothing to do with the fact that they’ve got a life-size Lara Croft and Captain Jack Sparrow in their London branch cafeteria). The mag is gorgeously designed from cover to cover – the features layouts make me howl with envy every month – and you just got to love the TF folks’ delightfully wicked humour. Then there’s the wonderful randomness of the Predicted Interest Curve™ and the “If You Must…” film chart, along with tons of other weird, wonderful, random little formats. And, rather than make me feel ashamed of what I don’t know about films (sadly all too often the Empire approach), Total Film throws in lots of little bits of essentials and trivia that just make me love films a little more every month.

The very promising November 2009 Total Film cover. And I’m not even talking about Ms Fox here…

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I usually buy Total Film. Unless Empire comes up with a total stroke of genius – like this month’s ’10 Years – 10 Covers’ Icons Issue:

Empire sets out to impress this December with 10 different ‘Icons of the Decade’ covers. Considering the men/women ratio in their choice of icons, I very much doubt they’ll impress anyone with so much as a single feminist gene though.

Which meant that, this time, I spent my magazine shelves lingering time shuffling through the stack of issues trying to decide which Icon of the Decade I’d like to grace my fabulously shiny metallic-y cover. Aragorn? Wolverine? James Bond? Somewhat upset about the lack of female icons (one out of ten? You’ve got to be kidding me!) I decided to go for the Joker, only to find that all the Heath Ledger-fronted issues had already been snatched up. So I settled for Jack Sparrow, who actually does make a pretty fabulous iconic cover – if you can get over the fact that the silly yellow “security protection” sticker would only come off stripping half the metallic coating off the cover along with it.

Anyway, thank you, Empire, for my somewhat ruined but still rather cool second-choice icon cover.

And to my great embarrassment I have to confess that, with all the excitement of 10 shiny covers to choose from and all, I somehow totally can’t remember what TF had to offer on the December issue. But, well, I’ve still got a couple of weeks to catch up on that before I have to face next month’s dilemma…

One comment

  1. Ben

    Thanks for the advice in this article, I’m a student too, but I’m bored of the dilemma so I’m going to sign up to both. Out of curiosity, you look for the articles with beautiful women on the front cover because they look good on your wall…two questions:

    1) is your wall big enough to put every front cover issue on??!
    2) you’re a girl too right…is that your angle? (not being judgmental at all, it just made me wonder!)

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