Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #85



TV

Game of Thrones

I think I’m done with Game of Thrones. I’ve spent the last six seasons watching the show but the last few years I’ve welcomed its return less and less. It’s not that I don’t like Game of Thrones anymore, it’s just that it watching it has become a chore.

The stories of the first few season of Game of Thrones were much more contained than the ones in the series are now. At first there were stories of Winterfell, Westeros and the Targaryen’s across the sea and that was about it. And even then those stories were interconnected with the likes of the people of Westeros and Winterfell meeting and coming together to the point where there were really only two story locations for a while. But with each season the stories have fragmented more and more and more, to the point where no single episode of Game of Thrones can contain everything going on at once with stories having to be spread out between multiple shows. And even then some stories only get five or ten minutes an episode and one character even went missing an entire season only to pick back up with his story a year later since there wasn’t enough room for him.

With all this story weight meant that each season Game of Thrones started moving slower and slower to the point where in its fifth season, to me at least, there wasn’t enough story progression in it to hold my interest.

While things did pick up in the sixth season of the show, I started finding myself less and less interested in certain stories. So much of what Game of Thrones was last season was of characters who used to be together being off on their own adventures and since I wasn’t into each and ever character’s adventures I found myself more and more skipping through parts of episodes to get to stories that I was interested in. I’d generally stop at Tyrion stories but skip through Arya ones. And honestly by the end of the season I was pretty much only interested in Tyrion.

When I start using my DVR to skip through episodes of any series I know that my days of watching it are numbered.

I do think that if this were the last season of Game of Thrones I wouldn’t be writing this I would instead be watching the show just to see how it all ends. But this season isn’t the last, there’s one more left, and even then HBO is examining the possibility of spinning off the show into a variety of different series. All of which is fine, but at what point is the story of Game of Thrones only about continuing the story of Game of Thrones rather than coming to some sort of ending?

Everyone likes to make fun of soap operas, but at what point do self-perpetuating TV series like Game of Thrones become more soap opera-like than what they initially set out to be like smart, fantasy dramas?

Inhumans promo

Defenders promo

Krypton promo

Westworld promo

Stranger Things promo

Star Trek Discovery promo

The Gifted promo

Movies

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

One of the few movies I did see in the theater in 1987 rather than on VHS or cable was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. That summer I was watching my younger brother at home while my parents both worked and one week they gave us a little cash to get out of the house and go to a movie. I looked through the paper to see what was playing at the theater in riding distance to our house and the choices were Superman IV and Madonna lead Who’s that Girl. Being the mega-comic book fan that I was with a closed full of Superman back issues I, of course, chose to see, you guessed it, Who’s that Girl. I have no idea why I’d want to see that movie at all — in fact I’m relatively sure I’ve never seen it. I can only guess that it was because it would be easier to explain to my friends that I went to see a movie that starred then it-girl Madonna than a Superman movie, since at the time once you were a certain age you weren’t supposed to like superheroes or comics anymore. My mom used her parent veto and nixed the idea of my eight year old brother seeing Madonna prancing around on-screen in a fancy leotard and told us we were seeing Superman IV with Christopher Reeve prancing around on screen in his fancy leotard.

So, one weekday my brother and myself rode our bikes to the theater and saw Superman IV. When you’re a pre-teen kid Superman IV isn’t a terrible movie. It’s got the humous Lenny (Jon Cryer), Lex Luthor’s nephew, and even has ol’ Lex himself (Gene Hackman) back in the role he originated after missing out on Superman III. And let’s not forget Mariel Hemingway co-stars who was one of the most beautiful women on the planet in 1987 which didn’t hurt the movie either.

Looking back on Superman IV 30 years later, it’s a mess of a movie. Produced by Cannon Films known for such gems as Invasion USA and Over the Top, Superman IV was made on the cheap and looks that way. The movie is barely an hour and a half long and that includes both beginning and end credits with the opening credits being the looooooooong credits the Superman movies were known for back then. Christopher Reeve is back as the Man of Steel and a lot of the other cast members like Margot Kidder have returned as well. But other than Reeve the rest of the recognizable faces other than Hackman are in cameo roles at best.

A lot of the movies I’ve gone back and rewatched from 1987 might not be as good as I remember but they all have some sort of weird nostalgic appeal, and Superman IV is no different. Though I would argue that it’s the one movie I’ve watched that’s actually a lot worse than I remember.

The story of Superman IV is of Superman trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons, but in a devious plans Luthor uses Superman’s tossing all of the nukes into the Sun as a way to make Nuclear Man, a character created for the movie and so-far is his only appearance, in order to destroy Superman. Essentially, Superman IV is a smaller version of everything that had come before in the previous films. It’s almost a small-budget remake of Superman II in many regards with Superman battling one superpower villain instead of three. And since IV was made on the cheap all of the seams show.

Low-budget or not, Christopher Reeve gave it his all in Superman IV in what would be his last role as the title character. After the disappointment of Superman IV it would be nearly 20 years with the release of Superman Returns in 2006 until the character returned to the big screen. However, it’s not like there weren’t attempts at a new Superman movie after IV as most of the 1990s were spent with Tim Burton trying to get his version of the character off the ground in a movie that would have been called Superman Lives and then in the early 2000s there was another attempt this time with J.J. Abrams in another dead movie that would have been called Superman: Flyby.

If you are interested in finding out what happened behind the scenes with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace it’s chronicled in the 2014 documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) as well as in Jon Cryer’s memoir So that Happened. You can also find out what happened with Tim Burton’s aborted Superman movie in the 2015 doc The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?

Blade Runner 2049 trailer

Starship Troopers: Traitor Of Mars trailer

Justice League trailer

Thor: Ragnarok trailer

Books

Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow

I first became aware of the work of Geof Darrow in his incredibly detailed drawings in the comic mini-series Hard Boiled when I was a bit too young. That comic, an acid trip through a hellish, corporatized future where robots kill scores of people turned me on to Darrow’s work. Years later I found an amazing book on his artistic contribution to the movie The Matrix that is still one of my prized possessions and now comes another Darrow art book, Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geoff Darrow.

From Dark Horse:

Geof Darrow’s slick, precise inks and stunning detail have amazed comics fans for decades, from his early work with Moebius to Hard Boiled, his first collaboration with Frank Miller, to the overwhelming success of his current series, The Shaolin Cowboy.

Now Darrow provides incredible insight into his process by sharing the pencil drawings behind his meticulous inks in a huge hardcover collection. Featuring well-known covers and never-before-seen drawings alike, Lead Poisoning is a behind-the-scenes look that reveals perfectionism at its best, showing how clean and perfect the initial drawings can be as well as the bizarre alterations that appear to happen on the fly.

Featuring commentary by Darrow and his notable peers, Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow is a hardcover that brings you right to Darrow’s drawing board.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1928: Stanley Kubrick, writer/director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange is born
  • 1956: Kevin Spacey, Lex Luthor of Superman Returns and Moon is born
  • 1957: Nana Visitor, Kira Nerys of of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1972: Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • 1983: Krull opens in theaters
  • 1986: Maximum Overdrive debuts
  • 1987: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace opens in theaters
  • 1990: The TV series Swamp Thing premiers
  • 1995: Waterworld premiers
  • 1999: Deep Blue Sea premiers
  • 2001: Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 2013: The Wolverine opens in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #30



TV

Game of Thrones

The sixth season finale of the series Game of Thrones titled “The Winds of Winter” aired last Sunday on HBO and was pretty great. The episode finished a lot of on-going storylines of the series and set a path towards some sort of conclusion to the overall Game of Thrones story at some point in the near future.

If only the fifth and the rest of the sixth seasons had been as good.

lead_960During the last two seasons of Game of Thrones much of the multitude of storylines have essentially been stuck in place. Things would happen to the characters and they’d do things in reaction to them, but in the end they’d end up right in the same place they started in. The series seemed to have completely lost its momentum and didn’t seem to be headed anywhere I could discern. I’m not sure if this was because the show’s based on the popular book series, and the creators of the TV series were biding their time trying to stretch things out for the storyline of the books to catch up with the show, or if the series creators were trying to do their best at translating the story of the books to TV which meant a lot of the same stuff over and over again? Regardless, the last few seasons of Game of Thrones simply haven’t been as good as the first few.

That being said, “The Winds of Winter” seemed to do a lot to right the series’ course.

Over the years the main and secondary casts of Game of Thrones have ballooned to perhaps dozens of actors. And with a cast that big meant that some main characters were written out of the show for entire seasons while others would only get a few minutes of screen time each season.

“The Winds of Winter” seemed to have fixed those issues with many characters exiting the series while at the same time all the various storylines of the show that have played out independently for years now being brought together into a single arch.

All of which is great. While all those separate stories might have been cool in the beginning, as we slowly got more and more and more separate stories the series grew into this colossal, unmanageable beast that started to get hard to follow. I can’t tell you how many times my friend Michael had to key me onto who was who’s brother/sister/aunt/uncle and why I should be caring about them. But it seems now like things might have changed on the show for the better. Even if it means less of what makes Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones and more cues from things like The Lord of the Rings right down to how battles play out and how oaths are delivered.

Season 6: C+, “The Winds of Winter”: B+

Halt and Catch Fire

One of the best series on TV Halt and Catch Fire is set to return Tuesday, August 23 to AMC. They’re calling it a “late summer” return, but to me late August is the start of the fall TV season.

Movies

Alien observation

51d5c400496bfa693ee7d753745a91b0When we first meet the character of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien at the most she’s got a few months to live and at the least several weeks from her perspective. The events of Alien plays out over a few days and at the end of the movie Ripley goes into a frozen hyper sleep where she dozes for 57 years before being rescued. But from her perspective one second she goes to sleep and the next she’s awakened by her rescuers.

Those 57 years pass in a flash to her.

From the looks of her apartment, the fact that she has to go through legal hearings on the events that transpired in Alien and that she has enough time to get a license to use heavy machinery and work on the docks, I’d say the events of Aliens play out over the course of a few months. And again, she’s in hyper sleep on the way to Acheron with the marines and when she’s awakened I’d say that Aliens plays out over no more than a week’s time total after.

The same goes for Alien 3 — Ripley’s in hyper sleep after Aliens and is awakened on Fiorina 161 where the story plays out over the course of, again, maybe a week. And the Ripley after that in Alien Resurrection is a clone and doesn’t really count!

So from Ripley’s perspective the three original Alien trilogy movies take place over the course of the worse few months anyone’s ever experienced!

(BTW — you can thank me for it if the next Alien movie is called Alien Observation.)

Sully movie trailer

“I’ve got 40 years in the air, but in the end I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds.”

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1978: Battlestar Galactica (the original series) debuts in European cinemas
  • 1982: TRON opens in theaters
  • 1985: Back to the Future premiers in theaters
  • 1996: Independence Day opens in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #21



TV

Game of Thrones  &  Veep

Both Game of Thrones and Veep returned to HBO last week with GoT entering its sixth and Veep its fifth seasons. These two series are still pretty good, but I feel that, especially with GoT, they’ve started to slip.

game-of-thrones-season-6-1-4To me, GoT is kind’a starting to feel like The Walking Dead, where there’s no end in sight for the story with the series set to go on and on and on. Which is fine, as long as interesting things are happening on the show — which, if this were, say, the second season of GoT it’d still be good. Except that much of the GoT story this season and last has been introducing new story elements, suddenly and sometimes violently killing characters while at the same time not really ending any particular story.

Lately, the storylines of GoT is like a ballon being filled. And which each breath the ballon grows larger and larger. Next to the balloon is a sharp knife and slowly the ballon gets bigger and gets closer and closer to the knife and destruction. And when the first ballon is starting to get realllllly close to that knife another ballon appears and like the first is slowly inflated until it begins to get closer and closer another sharp, pointy knife and oblivion.

And then there’s more and more balloons introduced to the point where the tension rises and rises with each breath and expectant pop.

Except that when you look back at the first balloon, the one that had you on the edge of your seat for so long it’s not so much as touched the knife and exploded, instead all the air’s just been let out of it and since you were paying attention to all those other balloons you never noticed that instead of some fantastic explosion that first balloon ended in a big flabby mess.

To me, that’s the formula of GoT. Lots of stories are introduced and lots of exciting things happen, but there’s not much closure or resolution on anything.

There’s still a war, the great GoT “houses” still don’t like each other and the series is full of characters only looking out for themselves. And much of this feels like it’s in place to keep the show in a “steady state.” That if we look back on GoT in a few years time maybe the faces have changed, but the stories will have not.

I’ve heard arguments that the stories of GoT are like real life. That these things really do happen and people really do look out for themselves. And that’s true, except that GoT isn’t real life. It’s a fictional story with dragons and magic and zombies. Which to me means that GoT really should be heading towards some conclusion. I get that maybe this conclusion might be the conclusion of part of the story and not the conclusion of the story as a whole. But it should seem like overall GoT is headed somewhere. Otherwise, GoT is just covering the same unique territory it covered in the first season but it doesn’t feel all that “unique” all these years later.

Veep, on the other hand has done a good job of changing and morphing as the series has progressed. The first season started with the title character Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as the Vice President of the US, then changed with her having delusions of power as she became the actual President as the President she served under stepped down. Now Meyer’s in an election fight on three sides with her holding onto the office in doubt.

Aliens Defiance

Aliens Defiance

To me, Veep works best in short, controlled bursts. The first season of the series had eight episodes while later ones ten. Which isn’t many extra — but it does seem like when the creators of Veep are forced to be focused with a limited run like with the first season, Veep is a much more focused show. With more episodes sometimes the story wanders a bit, and I wonder if it’s more because that’s what the writers wanted to do, or if it’s because they had to create more content for the longer season?

Game of Thrones – Grade B- Veep – Grade B+

Comics

Out now is Aliens: Defiance #1 from Dark Horse. What makes me interested in his comic is the cover artist; Mark A. Nelson. Nelson drew the very first Aliens title for Dark Horse back in 1988 and this image marks a sort of return for the artist to a character he hasn’t drawn in quite some time.

Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse trailer

“Just because there’s not a war doesn’t mean there’s peace.”

“Not all of us can control our powers.”
“Then don’t.”

Toys

NECA is set to release even more toys from the movie Aliens (1986) this time based on the characters of Vasquez and Frost. They already have a few figures released from that movie including Bishop, Ripley, Hicks and Hudson. Which makes me wonder if NECA is planning on releasing all of the A and B squad Colonial Marines?

On the Horizon

I’ve got columns in the works/planned for the X-Men film franchise, Independence Day: Resurgence, the movies of 1986, Suicide Squad and Star Trek too.




Meet a bloody end with Game of Thrones



Last spring the TV series Game of Thrones ended its fifth season on HBO. While I’m usually a huge fan of the series I didn’t much care for last season. I think that’s partly because this season seemed to be building up to … something. Previous seasons of the show told a long, complex story whereas this season seemed to be leading to another season.

Stephen Dillane and Liam Cunningham

Stephen Dillane and Liam Cunningham

To be sure this year there were stories of characters consolidating power and others where they made plans but a lot of the story felt mostly static. I’m not one of those people who demands action and battles from series like Game of Thrones but I think there should be something interesting happening to keep the viewer’s interest. Which I think was sorely lacking most of this season.

I do wonder how much the creators of Game of Thrones series were hurt that they had to follow the Game of Thrones novels? What I mean is that if they weren’t following the story set by the novels I think this season would’ve gone in a different direction altogether. That rather on focusing on a lot of lead up and not a lot of payoff they could have instead told something else altogether.

I don’t think it helps matters that each episode of Game of Thrones tells stories of multiple characters. Since there were many different storylines and characters that were being followed meant that most characters only got a few minutes of screen time each episode. Meaning their season-stories probably only covered an hour or so of television at most per character.

And how can characters grow and change in just an hour each year?

Worst of all I don’t think it had to be this way. Looking back on the season it seemed that several storylines could’ve easily been cut. These stories had no value other than to take characters from A to B then back to A again without much happening. I get the sense that some of this were in place just to keep all of the actors working and having equal screen time but I think that really hurt the overall quality of the show.

Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer

Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer

All of which is bad, but what just might have turned me off to Game of Thrones for good was the cruelty on display this season.

To be sure Game of Thrones has always been a show that depicted humainty’s cruelty towards humanity. The series has never shied away from characters being killed, maimed and mutilated. In fact this has been one of the hallmarks of the show. But recently some of that cruelty seemed to be in place for shock value alone.

This season character of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was raped by her cruel and malevolent husband Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). Which was upsetting especially since we’ve known the character of Sansa since the actress was 15. And the creators of the show didn’t shy away from depicting the act on screen, later defending themselves by saying that these sorts of things happen in real life.

Which is true. Except that of all the acts of cruelty that happened OFF-screen over the years why was did one have to be ON-screen?

And then another character Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) whom we’ve known since the actress was 14 was taken by her father and burned alive at the stake this season. She screams for him to stop but he won’t since he’s seeking to be granted a favor from the gods. Ugh.

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke

Which makes me think of a show like The Walking Dead. I used to like The Walking Dead just fine and was a big fan of the show up until a few seasons ago. That’s when I realized that it’d become little more than “bad things happening to good people” the TV series. If you like becoming invested in characters only to see them meet a brutal, gory end then The Walking Dead’s for you! It’s a series where characters are seemingly introduced one week in order to die screaming the next.

And that’s kind’a where I think Game of Thrones is right now. For some reason the creators of that show think that showing bad things happening to good characters makes for good TV, but it doesn’t. It’s a cheap way to get people talking about a series for all the wrong reasons.

I lost the stomach for this sort of thing with The Walking Dead and stopped watching it and feel like I’m starting to lose my stomach for it with Game of Thrones too.




Game of Thrones Imax posters



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