Resin Heroes

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



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



Alien (1979) lobby cards



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2017 Summer movie preview



Out first this summer is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 May 2. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie but am in the minority since the launch of these trash-talking, comedic space-faring heroes lead by Star Lord (Chris Pratt) quickly became a surprise mega-hit at the box office a few winters ago. This time, “Chris Pratt of the 1980s” Kurt Russell joins the cast as “Ego,” who in the comics anyway is quite literally a “living planet.” And what’s not to love about that?

May 19 sees the release of Alien: Covenant, the third Ridley Scott Alien film, and a direct sequel to Prometheus (2012). Prometheus got a bad rap by the critics but made more than $400 million at the box office hence Alien Covenant. What’s interesting here is that from the looks of things Scott has taken Alien: Covenant back to something a little more in the vein of Alien with the crew of a ship fighting the insect-like baddies and away from the more esoteric Prometheus, which I happened to like a great deal. Luckily, I also happen to like Alien a great deal too and couldn’t be more excited for this movie if I tried.

DC Entertainment tries to get their movie act together with the release of Wonder Woman on June 2, the fourth release of the modern DC movie universe. Originally appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and stealing the show, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) launches the Amazonian to the big-screen in her own movie set during WWI. My only concern for Wonder Woman is that she fought the monster Doomsday in Batman vs Superman and almost single-handedly took him down in an ultimate bad !#$ way. So whatever she faces in Wonder Woman has got to be as big or that movie might be disappointing.

The creators of The Mummy on June 9 are attempting to create their own franchise and so-called “shared universe” of movies with the Universal Monsters. Starring Tom Cruise not as the mummy but someone trying to stop her from destroying the world, early looks at The Mummy seem to indicate something like Mission Impossible crossed with Suicide Squad. The Mummy is the first movie of this interconnected film universe that will also include the likes of The Invisible Man, Wolf Man, Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in future films if this one’s a hit.

Spider-Man movies have had a really weird path to the big-screen the last few years. There were two Andrew Garfield The Amazing Spider-Man flicks a few years ago that failed to score billions at the office so that version was shelved. More recently Columbia Pictures, who owns the film rights to the character, had a new Spider-Man, this time played by Tom Holland, crossover in the Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War last year while still retaining the rights to make their own Spider-Man stand-alone films. Now comes that first film Spider-Man: Homecoming out July 7 this time with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) crossing over to this film.

A third Planet of the Apes film War for the Planet of the Apes is out July 14. The Apes film series is one of my favorites with the first chronicling why the apes got their smarts and the second what was happening with them just after the fall of man. This third film seems to be the story about the final apes vs man battle, with the winner taking claim to the planet. If you’ve seen the 1960s/1970s apes movies I’m sure you know how that works out.

Closing out the summer is the first movie based on the The Dark Tower Stephen King book series on July 28. Starring Idris Elba as the heroic gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the evil sorcerer, the The Dark Tower movie series is being billed as a sequel or continuation of the books rather than a big-screen version of them. It’s hard to describe The Dark Tower without giving too much away, but there are alternate dimensions, monsters and magical powers and, best for Hollywood, if this first is successful a series of seven other books that can all be turned into films.