Resin Heroes

The best movie & TV posters of 2016



The best posters of 2016 were for the movie Suicide Squad.

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Suicide Squad

One of the ways I judge the best posters of the year is if I’d like to have them hanging on the walls of my office — and boy-oh-boy would I love to see the posters for the movie Suicide Squad hanging there. What I think works so well about them is they break a lot of design “rules” by using elements like hyper “acidic” colors — or colors that a painting professor I had used to say, “were so intense they hurt my teeth” — and diverging design components that you’re not supposed to use.

Which, in lesser hands, could make the posters look amateurish, but instead makes the ones for Suicide Squad stand out from the flood of superhero posters that have come before. Posters for similar movies have, not so much failed, as failed to live up to expectations, in that they all kind’a look the same. I don’t think anyone would mistake the Suicide Squad poster for, say, a Captain America poster. And in an industry that seems to generate lots of campaigns that look the same as every other poster campaign, the ones for Suicide Squad have a wholly unique aesthetic.

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Arrival

I am a sucker for sci-fi movies. I’ll give just about any movie or TV series labeled “science-fiction” a try as long as it looks interesting enough. And the posters for the movie Arrival makes that movie look reeeeeeeally interesting. They feature these colossal alien ships that look a bit like a cross between a squished hockey puck and a sunflower seed impossibly hovering in the sky. And the whole campaign puts these ships at different locals around the world which adds to the immense scale of the ships and the movie as well.

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Better Call Saul

I’m a big fan of the TV series Better Call Saul and I only wanted to see the premiere of the second season even more after the release of these posters. Here, the character of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is walking across the street at a crazy angle, and it’s just him that’s being affected by the slant. I love all the taglines this poster could have but doesn’t. Like, “It’s not easy being bent” or even, “Becoming a criminal is an uphill battle.” And the poster for Better Call Saul on Netflix is just as good with Odenkirk sitting oddly on a bench with the tagline, “The truth is how you look at it” above.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The poster for last years’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all right. It seemed to be a modern version of those classic Drew Struzan Star Wars posters of old, except that instead of Struzan traditionally illustrating the posters someone created a photo illustration. And while the poster for Rogue One is a photo illustration too, I think where that poster is unexpected whereas The Force Awakens is in line with what’s come before is that Rogue One has its own unique look and color scheme. So much so that I don’t think anyone could mistake it for another Star Wars film.

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Stranger Things

The poster for the breakout TV hit of the summer Stranger Things is just as cool as the other posters on this list but in its own way. This poster is illustrated in the Struzan style and has just enough nostalgia factor that even if the series weren’t a good as it is I’d still be a fan of this poster.

Captain America: Civil War & Star Trek: Beyond

I thought the posters for Captain America: Civil War and Star Trek: Beyond were top notch too. The poster for Captain America takes a closeup shot of Cap and Iron Man battling each other from the perspective of Cap — and there’s a companion poster out there too that shows this action from opposite angle. And the poster for Star Trek: Beyond is so different then the other modern Star Trek posters while at the same time utilizing design elements from classic Star Trek posters that it’s breathtaking. Interestingly enough, the poster doesn’t have Star Trek anywhere on it, we just get the Enterprise swooping on a field of color with the words “Beyond” below.

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The X-Files

The X-Files revival TV series might have been a bit of a mixed bag, but that doesn’t mean that the poster campaign released to promote the show wasn’t creepy as all get-out! “I still want to believe” indeed!

Deadpool

I don’t think I could call myself a true poster aficionado if I didn’t include at least one poster for the movie Deadpool on this list, the most PG of which features the title character making the heart sign with his hands with “Feel the love this Valentine’s Day” below.




Star Wars is officially cool again



I couldn’t imagine myself saying this a few years ago, but we are living in the age of Star Wars. Sure, the early 2000s were a big time for Star Wars too with the completion of episodes I to III but somehow what we’re experiencing right now feels different. Not only are there new Star Wars movies being released every year but, if last years’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is any indication, these new movies have the chance of being pretty good too.

lord-vader-rgb-72dpiAnd it’s not like there’s been any time since the first movie was released that Star Wars was totally hidden from pop-culture. In the 1980s Return of the Jedi was released, a few TV movies and a slew of animated series were all out too. And in the 1990s the original trilogy was re-released in theaters to great fanfare plus in both decades were loads of Star Wars novels and comics too. And I think what kept Star Wars creative in those nearly 20 years between films were those comics and novels.

Before the age of digital special effects there were limits as to what was possible to show on screen since everything had to be practically done — models had to be built, sets constructed and matte paintings created. But with the comics and books there was no FX budget so anything was possible. The quote I’ve always heard is that those medium has a “billion dollar” special effects budget for each story. And so some amazing things happened in the pages of the comics and books that couldn’t have happened on movie screens then.

sw-de2-issue-4-coverI especially remember the Star Wars paintings of artist Dave Dorman. Dorman created these wonderful pieces of art that graced a multitude of comic and book covers from the early–1990s to present And he didn’t just paint established Star Wars “things,” his paintings also helped to expand stories that had already been told in the movies and introduced new characters and situations as well.

Dorman illustrated things I’d always wanted to see like Darth Vader leading a mass of Storm Troopers in a charge, Han Solo facing off against Boba Fett and, more importantly, brand new characters as well. These new characters looked liked they’d spent a lifetime existing in the galaxy of Star Wars with all the grit and grime and wear to show for it.

In fact, when I first saw the trailer to the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I thought it looked exactly like one of those 1990s Dave Dorman paintings come to life.

This new movie, due out December 16, is a prequel to the original trilogy and tells the story of how the Rebellion got a hold of the plans to the massive planet-destroying Death Star. Said plans were used in the first Star Wars to destroy said Death Star. All of which is great, and is a story I’ve been dying to see since I was five. But it’s the character designs and locations of Rogue One that really piqued my interest in the film, especially that of character Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Gerrera’s encased in a suit of armor that looks like it was left outside for a decade before being tossed down a flight of steps then set alight.

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera

And Gerrera doesn’t look like he’s in the best of health, he doesn’t look much better than the armor he wears.

In fact, there are loads of characters and settings in Rogue One that looks like all those diverse and different things from the comics and book covers that are different from the previous movies come to life and I couldn’t be more happy.

All those things I have closed up in bookshelves around my house that I pull down and open and fawn over once or twice every few years when the mood strikes will finally be alive and breathing on the big screen. With the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story it’s like I’m a kid again and am counting down the days until Christmas until I can open up my presents and see what I got. Or, in this case, pony up a few dollars and go to the movie theater and see all this on the big screen.




Direct Beam Comms #32



TV

Stranger Things Grade: A

strangerthings_promotionalstill.0.0The new series Stranger Things debuted on Netflix last Friday (July 15) and currently all episode are available to stream.

It’s 1983 and something’s not right in the town of Hawkins, Indiana. Outside of town sits a government installation out of which something has escaped. This thing found young Will (Noah Schnapp) riding home from a game of Dungeons & Dragons one night and stole him away leaving Will’s mother (Winona Ryder), the town police and Will’s friends searching for him.

Also escaped from the installation is a seemingly normal girl only known as “Eleven” (Millie Bobby Brown) from the tattoo on her arm who can do weird things like affect electrical appliances around her and has agents after her led by Dr. Benner (Matthew Modine) who’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way if it means getting the girl back.

So far Netflix has promoted Stranger Things as a sort of TV version of Steven Spielberg’s movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extraterrestrial and Spielberg produced Poltergeist. And while Stranger Things does borrow elements from this period in Spielberg’s career I’d say that Stranger Things takes more from the work of the other pop-culture titan of the 1980s: Stephen King. Well, King by way of straight to VHS horror films mixed with a pulsating synth keyboard driven soundtrack.

Part of Stranger Things were scary. Really scary.

stranger-thingsIn the beginning of the first episode when young Will’s being chased by the something I can only described as a human-looking shape, I found the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention. And at another part of the show when Winona Ryder’s character gets a weird phone call I took a breath so that I could hear every creepy thing emanating from the receiver.

That’s not to say that Stranger Things is strictly a horror series, though if I had to peg it in one genera I’d peg it squarely there. It also has elements of sci-fi and a definite sense of nostalgia for the early 1980s and young geek life before video games and the internet changed everything. But it’s not simply some nostalgia throw-back series.

Stranger Things is a show that’s set in the early 1980s but it’s not something that’s defined by that. The series could easily be set present day or the 1960s and would work just as well.

I wasn’t quite the age of the 1983 middle schoolers in Stranger Things but having grown up in Indiana the series gets a lot of what it was like in small town life back then pre-cable. Adults are really into basketball and you may get to watch your favorite show that night or the TV might be on the “fritz” and you might not. If you wanted to talk to your friends and you didn’t want to call their home phone letting the parents know what’s up you had to be creative. And if you were a geek the details in pop-culture matter. In the first episode two characters get into a fight over whether the Mirkwood was in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings which really struck home for me. The details matter to a pre-teen pop-culture junkie, even the seemingly inconsequential ones.

After having watched the first episode the only negative I can see with Stranger Things is that it’s going to be hard — REALLY HARD — to only watch one episode of this series a week and not blow through all eight in a packed Saturday.

The Bureau aka Le Bureau des Légendes Grade: B+

THE-BUREAU-5-1200x520This French series that’s available on iTunes, the first episode of which is free, is an interesting show about spies that feels a bit like the classic British drama The Sandbaggers.

In The Bureau, French operative Guillaume (Mathieu Kassovitz) has returned home to France after eight years abroad on assignment for the DGSE (the French CIA) in Syria. He tells his teenage daughter, with whom he’s trying to rebuild his relationship with, that his job was to “make friends” of certain people and glean any information that might be useful to France from what they might say. He was less James Bond than someone looking to score a little intel for his side. But in Syria he made one mistake; it wasn’t falling in love with a Syrian national, it was lying about ending the relationship to his superiors.

Back home in France things are in a bit of a disarray at the DGSE where one of their operatives has gone missing also in Syria which might act as a domino and bring own several other operations he knew about. At the same time Guillaume, who’s now working as a case officer inside the DGSE, finds out that his love from Syria is also in France attending school. Which begs the question — is Guillaume being played by the other side?

It took a bit for The Bureau to get going in the first episode, and even when it did “get going” it was a slow, but satisfying burn. Here, the agents are less using secret gadgets, gambling at casinos and drinking martinis and more just getting close to important people to glean even the tiniest detail that might somehow be beneficial to France as a whole. But even if their job isn’t like James Bond’s, it’s just as dangerous as since capture of a DGSE agent outside of France might mean death.

And like I said it’s the slow burn, the bureaucracy of governmental work and the life and death stakes of the characters that reminded me somewhat of The Sandbaggers. Though admittedly by the looks of it the budget of an entire season of The Sandbaggers probably wouldn’t cover one episode of The Bureau. 😉

My only quibble with the series is that it’s not easily available here in the US. Overseas in the UK it’s apparently available on Amazon Prime but here it’s only out on iTunes. Which means if I want to watch the rest of the first season it’s going to cost me $20.

So, it looks like I’m going to be out of $20 in the near future.

Star Wars Rebels season 3 preview

Movies

Star Wars: Rogue One “Sizzle Reel”

Cool Sites

Saturday Morning Cartoons: “A collection of Saturday Morning (or Saturday-Morning-Like) cartoons and animated episodes.”

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1984: The NeverEnding Story premiers in theaters
  • 1985: Day of the Dead premiers in theaters
  • 1986: Aliens opens in theaters
  • 1996: The Frighteners opens in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #18



TV

Classic Doctor Who

All I wanted was a Pepsi

All I wanted was a Pepsi

My local PBS station began airing episode of classic Doctor Who a few weeks back starting with the very first Tom Baker episode entitled “Robot” and it looks like for the most part they’re airing them in order. I couldn’t be more happy. I’ve been dying to watch more episodes of the classic Doctor Who for years now, ever since the 50th anniversary a few years ago and when BBC America began airing a handful of Baker episodes last year.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

The first season of American Crime Story on FX ended its run last week about the trial of O.J. Simpson. The sad thing is that I know a few people who didn’t watch the show because they “knew how it ended.” Except that American Crime Story was anything but just about the ending. It was about all the bits that were never broadcast on TV in the 1990s; what was going on behind the scenes with the lawyers, and jurors and family members we never got to see.

The neat thing about the story was that it wasn’t just one sided — for or against O.J. It’s mostly about the lawyers — the prosecution building a seemingly airtight case against Simpson and the defense finding ways to make their case a little a lot less airtight while at the same time trying to expose what they see as a corrupt system against African Americans in Los Angeles.

In a TV season with a lot of simply great dramas, American Crime Story was one of the best. A

Movies

Edge of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat

Last week writer/director Christopher McQuarrie announced that there’s going to be a sequel to the wonderful movie Edge of Tomorrow with Doug Liman set to return as director and Tom Cruise as star. I didn’t think that Edge of Tomorrow did well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel, but luckily I was wrong. Edge of Tomorrow is one of the best sci-fi films of the modern age and along with movies like Mad Max: Fury Road is redefining the sci-fi genera.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie trailer

“What will you become?”

Officially titled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this eighth movie in the franchise is the first one to be told outside of the main Star Wars storyline. Here, a resistance fighter, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star. Or, Rogue One would be what was going on immediately before Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope where those plans are hidden inside R2-D2. What I like about the trailer is the design aesthetic seems to be taken straight from those gorgeous Dave Dorman Star Wars paintings that seemed to be on everything Star Wars related in the 1990s. What I don’t like about it is that the vibe in the Rogue One trailer comes off a bit too Katniss in Hunger Games at times for my taste.

That being said, the trailer’s much more good than bad.

The Reading List

Chris Hardwick, King of the Nerds, Is Expanding His Empire

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1979 The TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century premiers
  • 1983 The Evil Dead premiers in theaters