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 #82



Movies

Near Dark

In 1987 there were two teen vampire movies, the first of which was The Lost Boys released at the end of July and the other was Near Dark in September. Both films are dealing with essentially the same subject of a young man being lured by a woman to become a new member of a vampire family but each movie approaches that plot in wildly different ways. While in many regards The Lost Boys is almost a perfect 1980s horror movie time capsule from actors used, fashion, soundtrack, etc. Near Dark instead was a horror film that took its inspiration from the southwest and cowboys with all the references those entail, and rather than being teen-friendly flick was instead a gory horror movie.

And while I’m a sucker for 1980s gory horror movies, I’m don’t think that Near Dark has stood the test of time the last 30 years. But I will say that two scenes in Near Dark* alone make it worth checking out that movie today.

Co-written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow who today is known for films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Near Dark is about Caleb (Adrian Pasdar). Caleb’s a cocky 20-something kid living with his dad and sister in Texas who one night is seduced by a woman named Mae (Jenny Wright), is bitten and is inducted into a family of vampires who roam the backroads of the south and pick off the stragglers of society in order to feed their need for blood. Headed by Jesse (Lance Henriksen) the family consists of members Dimondback (Jenette Goldstein), Severen (Bill Paxton), Homer (Joshua John Miller) and Mae. Giving off a Manson family vibe but in an RV, these modern vampires are on a road trip from hell stopping at every small town they cross to have a little fun and drain some people of all their blood. These aren’t the flashy vampires of The Lost Boys wearing cool, modern clothes. The vampires of Near Dark are dirty, smelly and have no use for modern society.

The crux of the movie is even though Caleb’s been turned to a vampire, he’s not yet a member of Jesse’s family until he’s killed someone on his own. And because the vampires need to feed is like a junkie’s need to get a fix, it’s all Caleb can do to not act on his impulses and end someone’s life for a little blood and cross over to the dark side.

To be honest, Near Dark is a decent movie, if a little too earnest in tone. The movie does have a surprising amount of blood and gore considering that it’s a film that’s directed at teens. But otherwise, Near Dark isn’t a bad movie, but it isn’t a very good one either.

However, there are those two scenes that elevate Near Dark to something else.

The first scene is of the vampire family in a bar there to help Caleb make his first kill. Inside are a few patrons, and since you really can’t kill a vampire by conventional means the family are totally unafraid of anything the patrons can throw at them be it billiard balls or shotgun blasts. Don’t think this scene takes place in a melee of action. It’s a surprisingly slow burn as the people inside the bar think they have the upper hand on these crazy out-of-towers but slowly realize they don’t and finally are slowly, shall we say, consumed one at a time some frozen in place with fear.

The other scene is of a gunfight in a motel after the bar scene. Here, one of the patrons escaped the bar and has brought the police to the vampire’s room. The family aren’t scared of the cops and their guns, but what they are scared of is that the police have arrived during the day and daylight hurts them. So there’s this big shoot-out and the cops are shooting into the room and the family out. Bullets hurt the vampires but can’t kill them. What really hurts the vampires are the shafts of sunlight that’s let into the room from all the bullet-holes in the walls. These shafts hit harder than any bullet and hurt worse than any rifle shot. And at one point Caleb has to run out of the room to get the group’s car and catches fire before he’s able to get back into the shade and put himself out. Since he’s a vampire the burns hurt, but they go away.

Near Dark isn’t the perfect movie but it’s got a lot going for it, if you can look past a slow start and a head scratching “would that really work?” ending. In recent years marketing materials have shied away from those used 30 years ago, which featured a blackened, bloodied and shot full of holes Severen to instead feature the faces of Caleb and Mae doing their best imitation of the characters from Twilight. Now there are some elements of Romeo and Juliet in Near Dark like Twilight, but on the whole Near Dark is more The Evil Dead 2 than something sappy like Twilight.

I don’t think The Lost Boys* has either.

Logan Lucky trailer

TV

Halt and Catch Fire season 4 TV spot

Inhumans TV spot

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1945: Burt Ward, Robin, of Batman is born
  • 1978: The TV series Battlestar Galactica (the original series) debuts
  • 1985: Back to the Future premiers in theaters
  • 1995: Species opens in theaters
  • 1996: Independence Day opens in theaters
  • 1997: Men in Black opens
  • 2003: Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines premiers in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #74



TV

American Gods Episode 1: C+

There’s been a tendency of late for series creators to embrace the model of season-long stories. The old model of TV was that each episode of a show would have a story that has a beginning, middle and end so that each episode wasn’t connected to other episodes stories in any meaningful way. Recently, more modern series began embracing season-long stories where episodes did have a beginning, middle and end but also were a piece of a season-long story that was also playing out throughout the year. But now some shows have abandoned each episode have a beginning middle and end and have started treating each episode as a “chapter” in a season-long story. So episodes are only a part of a larger story are used in service of that.

Which, if done right like in The Wire or True Detective can make some wonderful TV. But, if done not so right can make for some confusing TV, like I experienced with the first episode of the Starz series American Gods.

Adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, the American Gods TV series was created by writer Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Which I thought boded well for the show since Fuller adapted the heck out of the Hannibal story for NBC a few years ago and created a magnificent series in the process. That show about the early days of Hannibal Lector had episode stories as well a season-long story too. While this worked for Hannibal, with American Gods Fuller instead embraces the season-long story model which made for one weird episode of TV.

In the first episode, a guy named Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is released from prison where he meets up with a guy named Wednesday (Ian McShane) who quickly puts Moon on his payroll of being his eyes and ears out in the world. It seems as if the gods of lore like Odin and new gods like Technology are real, and the new gods and old are on the brink of war with each other.

Except I didn’t get much of the gods plot from the first episode, that came from TV commercials for the show and reading up on the original novel. Most of the first episode of American Gods is about Moon trying to get to his wife’s funeral, Wednesday turning up in some unexpected places, the introduction of a few other gods and the weirdest human sacrifice put to film I’ve ever seen.

In fact, I don’t think that if I didn’t already know kind’a what was going in on American Gods that I would have had any clue as to what was happening whatsoever since the first episode, while beautiful to look at, had very little plot/story going on. While watching it I kept getting the feeling that people who’d read the American Gods book were also watching the show going, “Ohhhh, that’s the part where X happens and this is setting you Y down the road!” But to me I never really got a handle on what was all going on.

I get that the eight episodes of American Gods show will play out as a single story, it’s just how long do we have to wait until we get past the weird sex stuff and people being cut in half before we get to a little plot?

The Defenders TV commercial

Inhumans TV commercial

Comics

Creepshow

A new edition of the classic Creepshow graphic novel is back in print some 35 years after original was released. Creepshow collects all of the stories that went into the movie of the same name with illustrations from Bernie Wrightson, which that name alone is reason enough to pick this one up. I was a little too young to buy the graphic novel when it first came out and for whatever reason never bothered picking it up since so I’m really excited about picking a copy of this up as soon as its released.

From Simon & Schuster:

Now back in print: the graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King’s Creepshow, based on the 1982 horror anthology and cult classic film directed by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead)—and featuring stunning illustrations by the legendary Bernie Wrightson and cover art by the acclaimed Jack Kamen! A harrowing and darkly humorous tribute to the controversial and influential horror comics of the 1950s, Creepshow presents five sinister stories from the #1 New York Times bestselling author—“Father’s Day,” “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” “Something to Tide You Over,” “The Crate,” and “They’re Creeping Up on You”…unforgettable tales of terror to haunt your days and nights!

Star Wars: The Classic Newspaper Comics Vol. 1 Hardcover

From IDW this week comes a collected edition of the Star Wars newspaper strips that ran from 1979–1984. This first edition runs from 1979 to the end of 1980 and has something like 575 panels from that period. I don’t know why but I’m a nut for these collected adventure strips and can’t wait for this one to come out, even if I think I’ve already got a lot of these stories somewhere when Dark Horse ran them collected in comic book form.

From IDW:

The first of three volumes that present, for the first time ever, the classic Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979–1984 in its complete format — including each Sunday title header and “bonus” panels in their meticulously restored original color. Initially the color Sundays and black and white dailies told separate stories, but within six months the incomparable Russ Manning merged the adventures to tell brand new epic seven-days-a-week sagas that rivaled the best science fiction comics of all time.

Movies

The Dark Tower movie trailer

Games

The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 Board Game

I’m not much into board games, but I have to say that I’m very tempted to pick up the The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 board game by Mondo from subject-matter alone.

From Mondo:

An alien lifeform has infiltrated a bleak and desolate Antarctic research station assimilating other organisms and then imitating them. In the hidden identity game THE THING ™ INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31, you will relive John Carpenter’s sci-fi cult classic in a race to discover who among the team has been infected by this heinous lifeform. The game has been designed to be as authentically cinematic as possible, ensuring that the players will experience the paranoia and tension that makes the film so great.

Toys

Prometheus Action Figure Series – The Lost Wave

Nearly five years after they were originally due to be released, the final three toys from NECA’s line of action figures based on the film Prometheus are finally set to be released this June. The first three figures in the set that did make it to shelves included David, the alien creature known as the “Deacon” and an “Engineer.” The lead character of the film Shaw and characters Vickers and Fiefeld were set to be released later, but later turned into never when the line was cancelled after poor sales. But never let it be said that NECA didn’t sense a golden opportunity when the new movie Alien: Covenant was announced and suddenly these three “lost” figures suddenly became found and are now set to be available again this summer and will retail for around $70.

From Big Bad Toy Store:

The 7″ scale figures are entirely movie accurate and feature over 25 points of articulation. Vickers (Charlize Theron) comes with flamethrower and removable helmet. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) comes with axe, removable helmet and the android David’s severed head. Fifield (Sean Harris) comes with flashlight and removable helmet.

LEGO® Ideas 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

This new Lego Apollo Saturn V rocket stands a whopping three feet tall, contains all three rocket stages as well as the command module, LEM and three micro figures. The kit will retail for about $120 and will be on sale the first of June.

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1971: Morgan Weisser, Nathan West of Space: Above and Beyond, is born
  • 1973: Soylent Green opens in theaters
  • 1984: Firestarter debuts
  • 1986: Short Circuit opens
  • 1989: The Return of Swamp Thing premiers in theaters
  • 1994: The Crow opens in theaters
  • 1994: The TV mini-series The Stand premiers
  • 1995: The Fifth Element debuts in theaters
  • 1998: Deep Impact opens in theaters