Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #91



Rumor Control

Late early September is always a sort of doldrums for TV and movies with the 2016/2017 TV season essentially over and the next not quite having started yet. And the summer movie season has also ended which means there’s a lull in new interesting movies out before the fall season starts with more interesting fare.

On TV I’ve been watching series like People of Earth, The Guest Book, Halt and Catch Fire and The Defenders. But I’ve also been checking out things like episodes of the original Star Trek on Netflix as well.

So far this year movie-wise I’ve seen:

Passengers: I liked it but I don’t think I would have cared as much for it if I would have paid full price to see it. See Passengers if you ever wondered what I Am Legend would have been like in space.

Logan: So far I think Logan is the best movie of the year and is one of the best comic book movies of all-time. Just see Logan if you haven’t.

Life: I was disappointed in this one. This sci-fi movie about astronauts in space doing battle with an alien lifeform didn’t connect with me for whatever reason. See Life if you always wanted to see an unofficial sequel to The Thing set on board a space station.

Kong: Skull Island: Not a great movie by any standards, but not a terrible way to spend a few hours either. See Kong: Skull Island if you love movies about giant monsters stepping on/eating people.

Ghost in the Shell: See above. See this movie if you understood what was going on in the Ghost in the Shell anime.

Alien: Covenant: This sequel to Prometheus/ prequel to Alien is a good movie if it takes a bit of time to get going and has a few too many plot-holes. Still, I dug this one. See Alien: Covenant if you love the Alien movie franchise even if you have conflicted feelings about Alien Resurrection.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: For whatever reason I wasn’t a fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy but liked the sequel a lot. It’s a fun, poppy movie that moves at a nice pace and features characters the audience likes to be with. See Guardians of the Galaxy 2 if you like watching superheros hanging out and having fun.

TV

Mindhunter series promo

Comics

Batman: Year One — The Deluxe Edition

The Batman: Year One storyline of a Bruce Wayne on the cusp of becoming Batman might be my favorite Batman story of all-time. Written by Frank Miller, Year One has a strange positivity whereas his much more acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns is almost its opposite.

From DC:

One of the most important and critically acclaimed Batman adventures ever—written by Frank Miller (BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) with art by David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil)—returns in a new deluxe edition hardcover. In addition to telling the entire dramatic story of Batman’s first year fighting crime from BATMAN #404–407, this collection includes introductions by Miller and editor Dennis O’Neil, reproductions of original layouts, promotional art, unseen Mazzucchelli Batman art, Richmond Lewis’s color samples, script pages and more!

Books

Bernie Wrightson: Art and Designs for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio

Artist Bernie Wrightson was one of the best all-around comic book artists/illustrators/painters/storytellers ever. One body of Wrightson’s work that so far much of hasn’t seen the light of day is his conceptual work for film and TV. Of which Bernie Wrightson: Art and Designs for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio is set to rectify publishing conceptual work from his time working at this studio.

From Hermes Press:

Wrightson’s extensive design work for the Gang of Seven Animation Studio, while known, has never been documented until now with the creation of this new in-depth monograph that utilizes the archives of the studio. Marvel at concept drawings, model sheets, and hundreds of designs for projects including Biker Mice From Mars, The Juice, and Freak Show. All of the artwork in this book has been scanned directly from the original artwork so fans can savior Wrightson’s genius up close and personal.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1907: Fay Wray of King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game is born
  • 1966: Star Trek (The Original Series) premiers
  • 1966: The Time Tunnel debuts
  • 1973: The TV series Star Trek (The Animated Series) premiers
  • 1975: The animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes debuts
  • 1980: Battle Beyond the Stars premiers
  • 2008: The TV series Fringe premiers



Direct Beam Comms #76



Movies

Alien 3 25th anniversary

I’ve written a lot about the movies Alien and Aliens over the years, but I don’t believe that I’ve ever really delved into the movie Alien 3. When I saw that movie was turning 25 this week I thought it would be the perfect time to muse about that film.

Today, Alien 3 is considered by the fans to be a noble failure. That movie was directed by David Fincher before he was David Fincher, so it’s got all the visual stylings we would come to expect from the director, but something about the movie is off. Alien 3 kind’a tries to return the Alien franchise to its roots — an alien vs a bunch of people sans any real weapons — yet the story is so uneven in places that it never ever is able to “get going” and never takes the audience for the ride we were expecting to go on after Aliens.

I’d agree that Alien 3 is the weakest of the first three alien movies and I remember the first time I saw it, on VHS the winter of 1992, I was disappointed by it. I remember thinking that Alien 3 wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as the other two.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that if Alien 3 had somehow not been a sequel, that instead it was the first film of an Alien franchise instead of third, it would be widely regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made warts and all.

Alien 3 has its own unique look and feel. If the esthetic of Alien was of “truck drivers in space” and Aliens a sort of 1980s yuppie mixed with military fatigues, I think the look of Alien 3 can best be described as depressed industrial. Everything from the colors of the environment to the uniforms the characters wear is a sickly, rust-colored industrialization gone amok brown. There’s absolutely no bright colors in Alien 3 and everything looks worn and used and ready to fall apart.

And this esthetic would carry over to Fincher’s later films like Se7en and Fight Club which are both considered great films partially because of this esthetic.

It’s true that the story of Alien 3 isn’t great, the movie’s famously trouble production explains a lot, but it’s still enjoyable. The story centers Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash landing on a far-off planet that’s a sort of prison complex for some very bad guys. And because she’s arrived with the alien spore Ripley and the prisoners must do battle to the death with the creature since help isn’t coming and it’s a winner takes all situation.

Now that I think about it, the craziest choice in Alien 3 is that you’ve got at the time one of the most beautiful and famous actresses on the planet with Weaver who in this film has a shaved head and looks more like one of the ragged male prisoners than one of the most recognizable actors on the planet which is a bold chose to say the least.

All of which makes for one interesting movie to watch even if the story’s uneven at best. But since Alien 3 is a the third film, and since two of the most beloved characters in Aliens are killed off in the opening minutes on-screen and since the story’s not perfect means that to most Alien 3 is seen as the first failure in the franchise rather than an interesting film. I do wonder if anyone now would go into Alien 3 without any expectations, which admittedly is impossible, what they would think of the film? Would they agree with Siskel & Ebert who gave the film two thumbs down or would they see something more in this now mostly forgotten film?

Star Wars 40th anniversary

I’m old enough to remember when the 10th anniversary of Star Wars was a big deal and now that the movie turns 40 this week I thought it would be interesting to post a few articles I’ve written over the years on the franchise.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, for years known simply as The Road Warrior in this part of the world, turns 35 this week. I saw Star Wars in the theater as many of my friends did, but I don’t know anyone who ever saw Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior there. I saw that movie many times edited for content on broadcast TV and I’m relatively sure I didn’t see the complete unedited version of the film until many years later on DVD.

Much like with Star Wars and Alien 3, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a part of a movie franchise that’s still going strong today.

War for the Planet of the Apes movie trailer

The Mummy trailer

Books

The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant

Out this week is the obligatory “making of” book for the movie Alien: Covenant. From Amazon:

This official companion book explores all the major environments, creatures and technology that feature in this exciting new movie. It explores the intricate technology of the eponymous colony ship and its auxiliary vehicles, designs of the crew’s uniforms and weaponry, artwork of key locations and breathtaking alien art imagery in amazing detail. Packed with fascinating sketches, blueprints, diagrams, full-color artwork, final film frames and behind-the-scenes shots from the set, Alien: Covenant – The Art of the Film is the ultimate literary companion to this highly anticipated movie event.

Toys

Alien: Covenant

NECA has released photos of all its action-figures set to be released from the movie Alien: Covenant including the already shown Xenomorph, but new Neomorph as well as other monsters from the film.

The Reading & Watch List

TV

Star Trek: Discovery series promo

The Crossing series promo

GLOW series promo

The Gifted series promo

The Orville series promo

Ghosted series promo

Black Lightning series promo

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1977: Star Wars premieres 40 years ago
  • 1979: Alien opens
  • 1979: Dawn of the Dead opens in theaters
  • 1981: Outland opens
  • 1982: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior opens in theaters 35 years ago
  • 1983: Return of the Jedi premiers
  • 1985: Trancers premiers
  • 1988: Killer Klowns from Outer Space debuts
  • 1990: Back to the Future Part III opens in theaters
  • 1992: Alien 3 opens 25 years ago
  • 1995: Johnny Mnemonic premiers
  • 1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park opens in theaters 20 years ago
  • 1999: The last episode of the TV series Millennium airs
  • 2010: The last episode of Lost airs



Alien: Covenant is not Prometheus 2



Prometheus has never been a fan-favorite film in the Alien franchise. When it was released back in 2012 it got middling reviews and, what surprised me the most, lots of fans of the Alien movies disliked it too. And when a sequel to Prometheus was announced last year, Alien: Covenant, there were still snarky comments online about how much Prometheus stunk.

Because of all the negative comments I avoided seeing Prometheus in the theater and ended up renting it on digital at home several months later. But instead of hating the movie I came away loving it. To me, Prometheus is a near modern sci-fi masterpiece about what happens when a group of people go off looking for god but instead find something that’s not quite the the personification of evil, but does have bad intents on the human race. Since then, I’ve watched Prometheus several more times and each time I find something new to appreciate about it.

But I still wondered? Why did so many of the same people who loved the other Alien movies that I love too dislike Prometheus so much? After a bit of contemplation, I think I’ve figured it out.

Up until now the Alien movies, and even the Aliens vs. Predator movies too (which should never be spoken of), were all monster movies. Alien is about a monster that attacks the crew of a ship who must fight back and survive. Aliens is about a whole bunch of monsters that attacks a group of marines who must fight back and survive. Alien 3 is about a monster that attacks a group of prisoners who must fight back and survive. And Alien: Resurrection is about a couple of monsters who attacks some scientists and pirates who must fight back and survive.

What if Prometheus doesn’t have anything to do with anything after Alien?

But Prometheus is a different film entirely. It’s the movie that broke the Alien mold and I think that’s why the fans of the genera didn’t like it. They wanted more “monsters vs…” and instead they got something different.

Prometheus is a horror movie that’s not really a monster movie though there are monsters in it. It’s almost a body-horror movie with characters being infected with something “icky” and being turned into some very weird things and another that has to have one of these things cut out of her. But for the most part, Prometheus is about exploration, and what happens when you assume the thing you’re looking for wants to be found when it really doesn’t.

Prometheus Movie Review. 

So, instead of the fans embracing something new and unique they turned mostly against Prometheus, derided it and some still dislike it to this day. Of course there are people other than me who like Prometheus, I’m friends with a few of them. But for the most part, whenever a news story about Prometheus appears online it’s snark, snark snark about that movie and why can’t we get back to the original monster films?

It sometimes seems like fans of a franchise get upset if sequels are exactly like the first movie and don’t do anything different, but they also don’t like it if the sequel is too different then the original and takes the franchise in a new direction. It’s a tightrope that the creators of movies like Prometheus must walk, and even if they get it right creatively like I think they did they can still be considered a failure in the eyes of the fans if the movie doesn’t unfold they way they think it should.

Which is what looks like is happening with Alien: Covenant. That movie, in theaters now, looks like it’s a return to the monster movie genra for the franchise with the crew of a colony ship the “Covenant” running across the remains of what was left of things after Prometheus while having to do battle with the classic alien xenomorph monster from the first film. And I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here by saying that since the very first trailer for that movie and TV spots as well feature this classic alien very prominently.

Still, I pine for what might have been with a true Prometheus sequel if that movie hadn’t been so savaged by critics or had done better at the box office.




Direct Beam Comms #75



Rumor Control

TV

New series and finales

Since these “Direct Beam Comms” updates have started I’ve been reviewing new and returning TV series as well as finales here. When I began I figured I’d probably review one or two shows a month and that would be it. Boy, was I wrong. Since the end of November each week I’ve reviewed at least one new show or a finale, if not more. I don’t know if that was a fluke or a sign of the times that we live in but week in and week out there was always something to write about and it just so happens that last week was the first week in nearly six months that there were now shows I wanted to review. I mean, I could review the series Master of None that debuted on Netflix, but I decided that since it’s a show I really wouldn’t watch since I didn’t enjoy or finish the first season, it really wouldn’t be fair for me to review this new season when that review would probably have been negative so why waste the time and energy?

And looking forward there are a few other new shows like Master of None that I could review but probably won’t. 12 Monkeyson Syfy that’s entering its third season but I could never get into that time traveling show based on the movie of the same name nor will I review the Netflix series Kimmy Schmidt that I thought was all right but a bit bland.

And I wonder if I should review the documentary… err… I mean Netflix drama House of Cards too? That show is entering its fifth season in a few weeks but I’ve really only watched two seasons of that series. The amount of shows I’ve watched one or two seasons of before I got bored and stopped watching is absurd.

I have a feeling that after the fall finales of this TV season taper off later this month/early next it might get even lighter in the TV review department here. There are quite a few upcoming shows that I’m interested in seeing like the third season of The Carmichael Show, the second The Tunnel and new shows like The Mist and GLOW, but those are spread out over months instead of weeks like what happened the last half-year.

The Mist TV series commercial

Movies

1987 The Running Man

The Running Man

One movie from 1987 that I always liked, but never loved, is The Running Man. That film has almost everything going for it — The Running Man stars Arnold Schwarzenegger at the start of his height of action-hero fame, it’s based on a novel by Stephen King and the film was adapted by Steven E. de Souza who’s film just before this was the insta-classic Die Hard. Unfortunately, even at the time The Running Man looked a bit cheap and flimsy, even more so today with how glossy entertainment looks, so the movie hasn’t held up well the last 30 years.

Still, when I recently rewatched it earlier this year I was stuck as to just how the dystopian future depicted in The Running Man has come true today — heck, the movie’s even partially set in 2017.

In that future the most popular show on TV is the game show The Running Man. Now we’d call it a reality show, but that term hadn’t been invented in 1987 so the tried and true “game show” term was used back then. In this game show contestants run through the earthquake leveled streets of Los Angeles trying to avoid the “stalkers” who are out to kill them with everything being broadcast on live TV with a host and studio audience. These stalkers are vaguely superhero-esque, one’s even called “Captain Freedom,” but instead of helping the runners they’re out to kill them. If the runners make it to the end of the course then they are given their freedom and spend the rest of their lives living in luxury. But no one ever really makes it till the end.

It’s interesting as to just how much our current society kind’a sort’a mirrors that of The Running Man. From reality TV being the most popular programming out there to some of the biggest celebrities in the world being stars of these programs. Here it’s Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) the host of The Running Man and a man so powerful he has a direct line to the Justice Department. Even the idea of people being more obsessed with pop-culture than what’s really going on in society is a major focus on The Running Man.

In some ways, The Running Man is a sort of anti-The Hunger Games. In that one the contestants are seen as sort of lambs being lead to the slaughter with most of the population not caring for the games. In The Running Man the population hates the runners, and it’s only when the Schwarzenegger character starts winning against the stalkers, something that’s never been done before, that the public starts siding with him.

Still, even if the story of The Running Man had nearly divined the future, there’s no getting around how cheap the whole movie comes off. The film is visually more made-for-TV 1987 than big screen looking and I think that hurts its legacy a bit. I mean, if everything were the same about The Running Man EXCEPT it looked as good as other similar films from 1987 like Predator or RoboCop do I think people would talk about The Running Man in terms of being a classic film and would be studied in universities. Instead it’s seen as a b-grade sci-fi flick that just so happened to get a few things right about our present from 30 years ago.

Blade Runner 2049 trailer

Toys

Alien: Covenant alien monster figure

NECA is set to release a figure based on the creature from the upcoming Alien: Covenant movie at the end of June for a retail price of around $30.

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1955: Bill Paxton of Aliens, Predator 2 and Apollo 13 is born
  • 1980: The Empire Strikes Back opens
  • 1989: Miracle Mile opens
  • 1996: The TV movie Doctor Who airs
  • 1998: Godzilla permiers
  • 1999: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace premiers
  • 2002: The last episode of the TV series The X-Files airs
  • 2002: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones opens
  • 2005: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith premiers



Direct Beam Comms #70



TV

Brockmire Series premiere episode 1 Grade: B-

The new series Brockmire debuted on IFC last week. The series stars Hank Azaria as the title character, a baseball announcer for the Kansas City Royals who had a drunken on-air meltdown a decade ago that effectively ended his broadcasting career. Fast forward to today and Bockmire has returned to the US after having been around the world finding work where he can like announcing cockfights as well as having some serious addiction issues of which booze is the least of his worries.

But what Brockmire doesn’t know, but Jules (Amanda Peet), owner of the minor league baseball team the Pennsylvania, Morristown Frackers, does, is that he is an internet celebrity because of his on-air meltdown and subsequent post-meltdown press conference that became one of the first internet viral videos. Jules wants Brockmire to announce the Frackers games that feature stunts like having obese players who get hit at bat because their gut sticks out of the plate and always get a walk to hiring a “celebrity” like Brockmire to announce their games and drive attendance.

The first episode of Brockmire was interesting, if we’ve seen the character type a few times before. He’s a person addicted to some substances who tells it like it is but who’s personal life is a mess/in shambles which seems to be a theme of many dramas over the last few years. And honestly the first half of Brockmire as the broken man who returns home to find that while others see him as a celebrity but he sees himself as a joke, is all right. Things do pickup in the second half of the episode where Brockmire goes from an unwilling participant in the Frackers organization to someone who’s excited about baseball again.

That and Jules promises him free booze at her bar if he agrees to stay.

Angie Tribeca Season 3 episode 1 Grade: B

The third season of the TBS series Angie Tribeca is set to debut April 10 but the premiere episode debuted a bit early a few weeks back. I’ve enjoyed Angie Tribeca the last few years and this third season seems to be shaking things up a bit. In previous seasons, the show was structured around self-contained episodes with a sort’a season-long story arch taking up some of the second season. But this new third season looks like it’s going to instead focus on a single story about a serial killer who’s kidnapping trophy hunters and is taking the hunter’s skins in order to cloth the animals.

Think The Silence of the Lambs with Chris Pine as a hilarious stand-in for Doctor Lector meets Naked Gun and that’s the basic vibe for this season of Angie Tribeca.

Movies

Spaceballs

When Spaceballs was released on June 24, 1987 I can happily say that I was sitting in the theater that day with a great view of the screen with my brother and cousin. Unfortunately, that day we chose to see the movie Dragnet instead of Spaceballs. The reason we probably saw Dragnet was that the little two screen theater within bike riding distance of home usually showed one film that was for the kids, Dragnet, with the other film being for adults. My guess is that other screen was showing something like Roxanne or The Witches of Eastwick which we would have had no interest in seeing and chose the sensible Dragnet instead.

Which is a shame since the 1987 Dragnet has been all but forgotten to time but Spaceballs remains a cult classic film to this day.

A Mel Brooks spoof of sci-fi movies, more specifically Star Wars, even today Spaceballs is still pretty funny. And I think the reason I say, “pretty funny” and not “hilarious” is because I’ve seen Spaceballs so many times on VHS and HBO and TV that I know most of the jokes by heart. And it’s hard to laugh at joke you know is coming. Still, when there were jokes I didn’t remember, especially the whole sendup of the Spaceballs movie within a movie, that did get me laughing.

Looking at the movie now I’m surprised that it was rated PG. There’s quite a bit of cursing in Spaceballs, so much so that I’d assume today it would be rated R for language alone. It’s interesting to see what people 30 years ago thought was acceptable for a movie the whole family could see, some cursing, whereas today we’re so averse to that we think cursing happens in movies only adults should see. Then again, I feel that the levels of violence in our PG–13 movies would surly make them rated R 30 years ago.

After watching Spaceballs, or really anything he was in, I come away really missing John Candy. I’m not sure there’s been a comedian like him to come along since he died who has his level of physical comedy and sweetness mixed with his unique timing. At this point Candy’s been gone longer than he was around in pop-culture, but he’s a guy I still really miss.

The Mummy trailer

Alien: Covenant TV commercial

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1976: Jonathan Brandis of the mini-series IT and TV series SeaQuest DSV is born
  • 1979: Mad Max debuts
  • 1983: The Evil Dead premiers in theaters
  • 1986: Critters opens