Resin Heroes

The best movie & TV posters of 2017



The best posters of 2017 were for the TV series Stranger Things.

Stranger Things

Not too many posters these days are illustrated. There was a time when all posters were, but that time ended with the advent of Photoshop where photos of the actors could be used in lieu of having an artist draw/paint them. But recently that’s changed a bit, especially with the company Mondo creating old-school illustrated posters. And to a certain extent Hollywood’s followed their lead and has produced a number of illustrated posters for big-budget movies. So it’s no surprise an outlet like Netflix would have one of their shows feature an illustrated poster too. What is surprising is how well the illustrated poster for Stranger Things turned out. Illustrator Kyle Lambert created this poster and the attention to detail on it is astounding. This poster manages to be both modern and have a classic 1980s movie poster touch at the same time.

I also like the non-illustrated posters for Stranger Things too. They all work together well as a set and evoke the theme of the series in just a few images.

Thor: Ragnarok

The posters for Thor: Ragnarok shouldn’t work, but they really do. The colors of them are hyper acidic and I get a sugar high just looking at them. I think what makes these posters work is that they still look like the standard Marvel movie posters, but because of the choice to use these colors make them unlike any Marvel movie poster that’s come before. I know I’ve always said I judge the best posters of the year based on whether or not I’d like to have them hanging on the walls of my office. But the posters for Thor: Ragnarok might be the exception to the rule. I adore these posters, but having to stare at them every day on the wall my be too much for my weak psyche to take.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Much like with the posters for Thor: Ragnarok, the posters for Star Wars: The Last Jedi don’t look like any other Star Wars poster I can think of yet still feel like posters for a Star Wars movie. To me the standard Star Wars poster has a bunch of characters on either black or white, and if the movie came out pre–2015 was probably illustrated by Drew Struzan. Except the posters for Star Wars: The Last Jedi look nothing like this. From the teaser poster to character to final, they have characters colored red on a while background. Which makes these posters totally different in the pantheon of Star Wars yet none-the-less still amazing.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I’ve been in love with the playful designs of the Spider-Man: Homecoming posters since they started dropping earlier this year. These posters look like they’re capturing discrete moments in Peter Parker’s life balancing things as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man like hiding clothes in a backpack or getting ready to leap off a tall building along with being a regular New York teenager. I especially like one of the posters where Spider-Man is framed perfectly in the center of the image but the background is askew. The first time I saw it and noticed that, and realized the angle that Spider-Man’s really at and it literally made me a bit dizzy.

Star Trek: Discovery

I don’t know if it’s the colors, the blocky typography or the design of the USS Discovery on the poster, but I’ve been a big fan of the teaser poster for Star Trek: Discovery every since it debuted last summer.

Wonder Woman

I really wanted to include the teaser poster for Wonder Woman last year, but I like to include posters for movies in my best of review that premier in the same year as the review. So I sat on this poster for a long time. It’s so simple, with just a near-silhouette of Wonder Woman over an orange and blue sky with the words “Power Grace Wisdom Wonder” below. It’s practically the perfect poster for this movie.

Ghost in the Shell

The Ghost in the Shell movie might have been a disappointment at the box office, but this poster is anything but. It features star Scarlett Johansson becoming invisible via a suit utilizing futuristic technology over the garish neon-infested city the movie takes place in.

Legion

The poster for the FX series Legion, which features the mind of the main character of the series exploding into a nebulous pink/blue mass is the perfect summation for the awesome-weirdness that is this show.

Blade Runner: 2049

It’s interesting to see how the designers for the posters to Blade Runner: 2049 handled things since Ghost in the Shell deals with many of the same themes this film does. Here, they chose to focus on the main characters of the movie like Ghost in the Shell, but to present them in such a way that their photos are totally colored either an intense orange or blue with just the actor’s name and movie title below.

The Dark Tower

The minute I realized I was looking at a city upside down with the negative space of the sky actually forming another city outline from below with the characters of the movie standing in the sky as it were made this poster go from “oh well” to “oh WOW!” for me.




George Perez Star Trek #1 comic cover






Direct Beam Comms #95



TV

Star Trek: Discovery

The ironic thing about Star Trek was that after the series Star Trek: Enterprise ended in 2005 I really got the feeling that Paramount had no confidence in the property whatsoever. At that time, before the launch of the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, things were so bleak that there were reports that Paramount was getting ready to shut down the official Star Trek website.

Luckily that never transpired and while I didn’t care for them, the Abrams films resuscitated the property for a little while longer. Now, 12 years after the last new TV episode of Star Trek comes a new series, this time not shown in syndication, or on cable outposts like UPN or The CW but instead for the first episode at least on CBS; Star Trek: Discovery.

This seventh Star Trek TV series takes place after the events of Star Trek: Enterprise but before those in the original Star Trek. Starring Sonequa Martin Rainford as Commander Michael Burnham and Michelle Yeoh as Captain Han Bo, the promise of Star Trek: Discovery was to take turn an aging franchise into a modern TV series.

I hate to report that while Star Trek: Discovery might be a modern series, not much happened in the first episode that debuted on CBS. We’re introduced to the crew of the ship the USS Shenzhou that, on a mission to repair a Federation relay thingy uncovers Klingons hiding nearby. And as things go from bad to worse and one Klingon ship is joined by many and when Burnham tries to fire on the Klingons without orders to do so … the series goes to commercial with the message, “If you want more Star Trek subscribe to CBS All Access.”

So we’re left on quite a cliffhanger. And while I’d argue that this first episode of Star Trek: Discovery is probably better in terms of story than something like the first episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager were, since the Star Trek: Discovery episode ends on a cliffhanger there isn’t much story present to hold things together and it ends feeling half done.

Star Trek: Discovery

And because this is the first half of what’s obviously supposed to be a single, two-hour long episode/movie. It means that in this first episode we never get to meet the crew of the USS Discovery nor most of the cast of the show who’s been pitching the series the last few weeks other than Martin-Green. There’s no Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp or Mary Wiseman who’ve been everywhere in marketing materials and in fact inexplicably the USS Discovery ship is totally absent as well. 100% of the episode here focuses in on the Shenzhou and its crew who, as far as I can tell, aren’t in the show after the second episode.

Which leaves me scratching my head a bit? If this first episode is supposed to sell the viewers on Star Trek: Discovery in order to get them to signup and get CBS All Access accounts, then why show only the first episode with a mostly different cast on a totally different ship where nothing much happens other than a tense standoff?

I liked Star Trek: Discovery and would be watching it every week if it were on CBS. But I don’t think the first episode of the show sold me enough on it to shell out $84 a year on the service just for Star Trek.

Inhumans

So far, Marvel hasn’t been able to match the quality of the movies in their TV series yet. Some of that has to do with the nature of films having much bigger budgets than a comparable episode of TV. For example, while a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 might have a budget of something like $200 million, if reports are to be believed a comparable first feature-length episode of Inhumans might have a budget of $20 million. Now $20 million isn’t a minuscule amount, but it’s not nearly enough to deliver the spectacle that audiences have come to expect from the Marvel movies that are generally built around a few big action scenes with bits of story holding things together. The TV series with their smaller budgets simply can’t do that. Instead they have to rely on things like characters and story over big action scenes.

I think what hurts Inhumans the most is that it doesn’t have much action or story. There’s a lot of palace intrigue and when there are fight scenes they’re standard TV fare. But to the story of Inhumans was so over the top and heavy handed it was unintentionally silly at times.

In the Inhumans, inhumans who have all sorts of varying superpowers live and work in a secret city on the Moon hidden from the regular humans on the Earth. Inhumans started off as regular people, but after being exposed to the “Terrigen Mist” at some point fled to the Moon to escape persecution. There, during a ritual all teens are exposed to the mist to develop their powers.

On the Moon there are the haves like Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medussa, (Serinda Swan) and Karnak (Ken Leung) who have powers like a super-voice, super-hair and the ability to win any fight and those who were exposed to the mist like Maximus (Iwan Rheon) but didn’t develop any powers. The have-nots are forced to work in the mines for some reason that’s never really explained. The haves live a life of luxury in a city that’s slowly running out of resources so Maximus hatches a plot to leave the Moon and take over the Earth but his planning is so shoddy he allows most of the main characters to escape his clutches and flee to the very planet he wishes to conquer.

Inhumans isn’t bad, it’s just boring. For a show that’s about a population of super beings living on the Moon and doing battle the first movie-length episode seemed to crawl at times where it seemed like nothing much happened. The special effects of the show aren’t movie-quality, but neither are they of lesser quality for other similar shows.

Honestly, Inhumans is pretty much what I expected from a modern-day ABC Marvel series where there are good guys and bad, and there’s never any doubt as to who is who.

Movies

Annihilation movie trailer

1922 movie trailer

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1923: Charlton Heston of Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and The Omega Man is born
  • 1948: Avery Brooks, Captain Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1959: The TV series The Twilight Zone premiers
  • 1968: Night of the Living Dead opens in theaters
  • 1987: Near Dark opens in theaters
  • 1988: The movie Alien Nation premiers in theaters
  • 1999: The TV series Roswell premiers
  • 2000: The TV series Dark Angel premiers



Kelly Freas Spock painting






Direct Beam Comms #94



TV

Star Trek: The Next Generation

It literally took me years after it had ended to see all the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) when I decided to watch the series in the early 1990s. I remember what a big deal TNG was when it premiered this week 30 years ago in 1987 with there being news stories about the show and the first episode “Encounter at Farpoint” airing in primetime. I even remember that my dad who wasn’t at all into sci-fi was excited about TNG because of some nostalgia factor and we watched that first episode when it aired.

Some of the cast of TNG

And I think to a certain extent that’s why it took me so long to checkout TNG. If my dad was into TNG, then surly it was uncool.

It wasn’t easy when TNG was first running episodes to see it in my area. Much like with Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future where I lived TNG aired early Sunday mornings well into the 1990s. And since there was no way I was ever going to get up early on a Sunday morning unless I had to I missed a lot of years of TNG.

What finally got me interested in TNG was the debut of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993 which I liked and got me interested in Star Trek in general as well. And when I started watching TNG which was still in its first run syndication then I really dug it.

However, watching older episodes of TNG that I had already missed then wasn’t an easy task. One good thing was that right when I started watching TNG was the time that Star Trek in general was undergoing a surge or popularity so older episodes of TNG would air at different times during the week alongside the new ones. So slowly, but surly I began catching older episodes of TNG that I had missed.

Here’s a drawing I did in 1997 celebrating the 10th anniversary of TNG

At some point I’d bought a Star Trek book that listed all the episodes each Star Trek series that had aired to that point. I still have it. In the guide I’d mark off each episode of TNG that I’d seen and would be on the lookout in the TV listings for any that I had missed. And because TNG was airing in syndication everyday and because I started taping these episodes off of TV while I was at school I quickly began marking off more and more episodes as I’d see them. For some reason 25 years later I still have all these VHS tapes of TNG episodes I’d recorded off of TV and watched once. I figured I was building a personal TNG episode collection — of course now with TNG being easily available via many streaming services and VHS being a relatively dead medium these tapes do little more than take up closet space these days.

Still, tapes and syndicated TNG or no there was still episodes of TNG that I never seemed to be able to catch. These episode always seemed to be from the first or second season, one of which I remember wanting to see badly was “Q Who” that featured the first appearance of the villainous Borg. In that case I ended up buying a copy of the episode on VHS — they used to do that, sell single episodes of popular TV series on VHS — just to be able to see that episode. Even later I joined the TNG Columbia House tape club where every month I’d receive one tape in the mail that contained two episodes of the series for something like $20 a month.

($4.95 is for the first tape — every tape after that was $19.95.)

Because of the expense and because more of the older episodes of TNG started turning up in syndication I didn’t do this long. But still, I have a drawer full of these tapes along side the ones I recorded off of TV too.

Some of the cast of TNG

I’d guess that sometime in the later 1990s I finally fulfilled my quest of seeing each and every episode of TNG and having marked off all those episodes in my book. At least I don’t think there’s any TNG out there that I haven’t seen, or at least I’ve never turned over to a random episode of TNG on TV and thought, “What’s this one!?”

Now that I think of it, even if I have seen all of TNG I certainly never saw the episodes in order. When I started watching the show in the early 1990s I would have seen any new ones in order. But as for the old ones I’d have seen them as they happened to air in syndication. And they didn’t always air in order. So my experience with TNG is a bit of a hodgepodge, with me seeing brand new episodes along older ones on TV along with whatever tape I’d get from Columbia House that month whenever I started doing that.

Now of course it couldn’t be easier to see every episode of TNG. The entire series can be bought on Blu-ray for something like $80 which is about 30% of what Columbia House was charging for a single season of the series on VHS and the series is also available via a few streaming services and aires in regular rotation on BBC America too.

The Good Place

The sitcom The Good Place returned to NBC for a second season last week and is as good as ever. This show about Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who was supposed to go to the bad place after she died but accidentally was sent to the good was one of the bright spots on the networks last year that was filled with mostly ick.

Spoilers about the first season follow, so if you haven’t seen it you might want to skip the rest of this review. But trust me, if you’re not watching The Good Place you’re missing out.

At the end of the first season Eleanor came to the realization that she wasn’t mistakenly sent to the good place, she’s been in the bad place all along. And everything that’s been happening in what she thought was the good place was really a ploy by this bad place manager Michael (Ted Danson) to find new and unique ways to torture people there.

The second season starts right back where the first ended, with Eleanor and her group of fellow people who think they’re in the good place coming to the realization they’re in the bad, but Michael having reset everything to run his plan again with Eleanor and her group starting from scratch with them having no memory of what had come before.

Whereas the first season mostly followed Eleanor tying to become a better person to stay in what she thought was the good place, so far the second has followed Michael and his minions behind the scenes as it were trying to get his plan back on track but finding that even though Eleanor doesn’t know what’s going on, she’s still a formidable opponent.

The Punisher TV spot

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1952: Christopher Reeve, Superman, is born
  • 1954: Linda Hamilton of Terminator, Terminator 2 and the TV series Beauty and the Beast is born
  • 1985: The TV series Amazing Stories debuts
  • 1987: Star Trek: The Next Generation premiers
  • 1995: The TV series Space: Above and Beyond premiers
  • 2001: Star Trek: Enterprise premiers
  • 2004: Shaun of the Dead opens in theaters
  • 2005: Serenity opens in theaters
  • 2013: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres