Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #84



TV

Salvation

I am a sucker for Earth vs asteroid movies. When I first started covering movies here back in the late 1990s two films that I was most interested in were Deep Impact and Armageddon. And even just a few years ago I found myself drawn to and again writing about Deep Impact and another similar movie Meteor too. I’ve essentially been writing about Earth vs asteroid movies the last 20 years so when it was announced that CBS would begin airing the series Salvation this summer that’s a Earth vs asteroid show I was very interested in checking it out.

But still, while I might be interested in Salvation it is on CBS which doesn’t have a good track record of interesting sci-fi series with the likes of Under the Dome, Extant and Zoo all being dull and lowest-common denominator sci-fi the last few years. But regardless of what had come before I was going to check out Salvation no matter what. Unfortunately, not unexpectedly, Salvation is more Under the Dome than Deep Impact.

Much like with both Deep Impact and Armageddon, in Salvation an amateur scientist (Charlie Rowe) discovers that an asteroid in the far-off reaches of space has a 97% chance of hitting the Earth in six months. And when he reveals this fact to the government they tell him that they too have known about this fact for some time and have a contingency plan for stopping the asteroid with a space probe designed to bump the rock off course to miss the planet. But when an engine test for the rocket meant to blast this ship on its journey ends in an explosion, billionaire Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) realizes that his plan to one day send a ship to Mars full of people might have to happen a lot sooner than he planned.

Salvation is interesting but it’s CBS-ness keeps getting in the way of it being a good show. All of the characters have model good looks, they all work in these super-high tech labs with holographic projectors and computers waaaaay too advanced for present day, no one has any real personality flaws and is more TV character than real person.

Basically, Salvation is CSI + Deep Impact / Tony Stark and his technology from Iron Man.

Mr. Mercedes TV spot

Movies

RoboCop

I remember reading an article in the long far off past of the late 1990s about movies that had what has come to be called a “director’s cut.” This version of the movie was different then the one that was released in theaters, it was the director’s preferred version of this movie. And just the idea that there might be different versions of the same movies I could see excited me. While different cuts of certain movies had been available for years at that point via LaserDisc, I didn’t know anyone who had a LaserDisc, let alone had ever seen a different cut of a movie like RoboCop that I had watched on VHS.

One of the articles I read talked about Aliens that was longer and had additional scenes, The Abyss with a totally different ending than what got released in theaters and a gorier version of RoboCop.

Nowadays it’s common for R-rated movies on home media to be released with a director’s cut of the film since the ratings system that applies to movies released in theaters doesn’t apply to home media. But back in the late 1980s when RoboCop was released on VHS the best we could hope for was the version of the movie that ran in theaters cropped to fit square TVs.

In the mid–1990s there was a push from movie fans for films to be released in their original aspect ratio, not with the sides cropped away*. And with the advent of DVD and the promise that format would feature the movie in its original aspect ratio, include things like commentaries and making of documentaries… more and more movies started being released with director’s cuts as bonus features. With DVDs becoming popular and everyone buying them looking to replace their VHS tape collections, for a brief moment movie studios began looking at their back catalogs thinking what could they do to get fans to buy the same movie yet again? And one of the things they did was to release more “director’s cuts” of movies.

By the time of DVD I had bought a few director’s cuts of movies on VHS that were dubbed from LaserDisc at comic book conventions with the likes of Aliens and Independence Day. But one of the movies I didn’t have much success finding the director’s cut of was RoboCop. In fact it wasn’t until years later when the movie was out on Blu-ray that I finally saw that version of the film.

To be honest, Paul Verhoeven director’s cut of RoboCop is less about having additional scenes that add story but is instead about turning a movie that’s known for having a decent amount of gore for a sci-fi film to one that has an incredible amount of gore and violence period.

If in the theatrical cut of RoboCop someone is shot once, then in the director’s cut they’re shot twice, once more up close and always squirting blood. And if someone shoots a gun in the theatrical cut, in the director’s cut they shoot again and again and again. So much so that the director’s cut is almost verging on comedy because of the over-the-top gore.

The iconic RoboCop image

I end up watching RoboCop about once a year but honestly I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the director’s cut. I own that on Blu-ray but for whatever reason I end up catching the theatrical version unedited on TV somewhere and end up watching that instead. So I’m honestly not sure what I think about the director’s cut since it’s been a very long time since I’ve last seen it.

What I find interesting is that for the longest time the only way to see a director’s cut of any movie was on home media. The version of the film that played on TV at best was always the theatrical cut, at worst the dreaded “edited for television” or super-dreaded “edited for television and formatted to fit your screen.” But recently I’ve noticed that starting to change with several films airing as the “director’s cut” on cable outlets and not the standard theatrical version.

It must be jolting for the casual movie fan to sit down one day to watch a favorite movie they know by heart and have watched year after year to instead see something ever so slightly different then before. Then again, maybe “the casual movie fan” doesn’t pay as much attention to their movies as I do, and maybe most people simply watch movies to be entertained rather than to examine and write about the material.

*Though slowly at first since even in the early 2000s I still remember people coming into a big-box store I was shopping at to yell at the clerk in the electronics department about those “damned black bars at the top and bottom of the movie.”

The Dark Tower trailer

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1967: Vin Diesel, Riddick of Pitch Black is born
  • 1984: The NeverEnding Story premiers in theaters
  • 1985: Day of the Dead premiers in theaters
  • 1986: Aliens debuts
  • 1987: RoboCop premiers
  • 1988: Akira premiers
  • 1996: The Frighteners opens in theaters
  • 2011: The TV series Falling Skies premiers