Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #76



Movies

Alien 3 25th anniversary

I’ve written a lot about the movies Alien and Aliens over the years, but I don’t believe that I’ve ever really delved into the movie Alien 3. When I saw that movie was turning 25 this week I thought it would be the perfect time to muse about that film.

Today, Alien 3 is considered by the fans to be a noble failure. That movie was directed by David Fincher before he was David Fincher, so it’s got all the visual stylings we would come to expect from the director, but something about the movie is off. Alien 3 kind’a tries to return the Alien franchise to its roots — an alien vs a bunch of people sans any real weapons — yet the story is so uneven in places that it never ever is able to “get going” and never takes the audience for the ride we were expecting to go on after Aliens.

I’d agree that Alien 3 is the weakest of the first three alien movies and I remember the first time I saw it, on VHS the winter of 1992, I was disappointed by it. I remember thinking that Alien 3 wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as the other two.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that if Alien 3 had somehow not been a sequel, that instead it was the first film of an Alien franchise instead of third, it would be widely regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made warts and all.

Alien 3 has its own unique look and feel. If the esthetic of Alien was of “truck drivers in space” and Aliens a sort of 1980s yuppie mixed with military fatigues, I think the look of Alien 3 can best be described as depressed industrial. Everything from the colors of the environment to the uniforms the characters wear is a sickly, rust-colored industrialization gone amok brown. There’s absolutely no bright colors in Alien 3 and everything looks worn and used and ready to fall apart.

And this esthetic would carry over to Fincher’s later films like Se7en and Fight Club which are both considered great films partially because of this esthetic.

It’s true that the story of Alien 3 isn’t great, the movie’s famously trouble production explains a lot, but it’s still enjoyable. The story centers Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash landing on a far-off planet that’s a sort of prison complex for some very bad guys. And because she’s arrived with the alien spore Ripley and the prisoners must do battle to the death with the creature since help isn’t coming and it’s a winner takes all situation.

Now that I think about it, the craziest choice in Alien 3 is that you’ve got at the time one of the most beautiful and famous actresses on the planet with Weaver who in this film has a shaved head and looks more like one of the ragged male prisoners than one of the most recognizable actors on the planet which is a bold chose to say the least.

All of which makes for one interesting movie to watch even if the story’s uneven at best. But since Alien 3 is a the third film, and since two of the most beloved characters in Aliens are killed off in the opening minutes on-screen and since the story’s not perfect means that to most Alien 3 is seen as the first failure in the franchise rather than an interesting film. I do wonder if anyone now would go into Alien 3 without any expectations, which admittedly is impossible, what they would think of the film? Would they agree with Siskel & Ebert who gave the film two thumbs down or would they see something more in this now mostly forgotten film?

Star Wars 40th anniversary

I’m old enough to remember when the 10th anniversary of Star Wars was a big deal and now that the movie turns 40 this week I thought it would be interesting to post a few articles I’ve written over the years on the franchise.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, for years known simply as The Road Warrior in this part of the world, turns 35 this week. I saw Star Wars in the theater as many of my friends did, but I don’t know anyone who ever saw Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior there. I saw that movie many times edited for content on broadcast TV and I’m relatively sure I didn’t see the complete unedited version of the film until many years later on DVD.

Much like with Star Wars and Alien 3, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a part of a movie franchise that’s still going strong today.

War for the Planet of the Apes movie trailer

The Mummy trailer

Books

The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant

Out this week is the obligatory “making of” book for the movie Alien: Covenant. From Amazon:

This official companion book explores all the major environments, creatures and technology that feature in this exciting new movie. It explores the intricate technology of the eponymous colony ship and its auxiliary vehicles, designs of the crew’s uniforms and weaponry, artwork of key locations and breathtaking alien art imagery in amazing detail. Packed with fascinating sketches, blueprints, diagrams, full-color artwork, final film frames and behind-the-scenes shots from the set, Alien: Covenant – The Art of the Film is the ultimate literary companion to this highly anticipated movie event.

Toys

Alien: Covenant

NECA has released photos of all its action-figures set to be released from the movie Alien: Covenant including the already shown Xenomorph, but new Neomorph as well as other monsters from the film.

The Reading & Watch List

TV

Star Trek: Discovery series promo

The Crossing series promo

GLOW series promo

The Gifted series promo

The Orville series promo

Ghosted series promo

Black Lightning series promo

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1977: Star Wars premieres 40 years ago
  • 1979: Alien opens
  • 1979: Dawn of the Dead opens in theaters
  • 1981: Outland opens
  • 1982: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior opens in theaters 35 years ago
  • 1983: Return of the Jedi premiers
  • 1985: Trancers premiers
  • 1988: Killer Klowns from Outer Space debuts
  • 1990: Back to the Future Part III opens in theaters
  • 1992: Alien 3 opens 25 years ago
  • 1995: Johnny Mnemonic premiers
  • 1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park opens in theaters 20 years ago
  • 1999: The last episode of the TV series Millennium airs
  • 2010: The last episode of Lost airs



Star Trek (1966) Enterprise behind the scenes



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Bob Peak Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) painting






Alice Krige behind the scenes of Star Trek: First Contact



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The Best of the Rest



The book I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until I had it: Art of Atari.

I don’t really consider myself as having grown up with the Atari video game system. I played the Atari when and had fun doing so, but to me the Atari seemed like the system of the generation before mine. Still, one thing that I always admired about Atari were the covers for their video games. When the Atari was new the graphics for video games were extremely primitive. Instead of having recognizable avatars, even top of the line games would have things like red squares representing people and triangles spaceships. But the art created for the game cartridges was something else entirely. With the covers we get these beautiful traditionally hand illustrated paintings of what we’d imagine was going on in the game, and not what was actually happening on screen. And the new Art of Atari book collects lots and lots of these original paintings.

I especially like the covers done by artist Steve Hendricks who helped define a house style for how the Atari video game cartridges should look in his, what’s now a retro, style that’s absolutely gorgeous.

Nowadays covers to video game are all illustrated in this hyper-realistic 3D style that’s supposed to emulate the actual video game content within. Which is a shame since while that’s nice, I’d argue that the approach by the artists of the Atari age was better.

My favorite comic book character who returned after a long absence: The Punisher.

Okay, I lied — the Punisher’s been around in one form or another since he debuted in the early 1970s. But over the last decade he was a mostly forgotten character writers would use to try out their ideas on before moving onto something else. However, in 2016 the Punisher returned with a vengeance (haha) after having appeared in the latest season of Daredevil and is now being spun-off into his own Netflix series due out laster this year.

Best of all most of the Punisher’s early comic book stories are now available in collected forms with these massive editions of both Punisher and Punisher War Journal out and available for purchase.

My favorite books about how hard it is to create something that stands the test of time: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.

I’d always assumed that the making of the Star Trek TV series was mostly easy. Or easier than it seems like it is with other series, especially since the show was in production for 18 years from 1987 to 2005. But I was surprised to learn how wrong I was after having read the two volume The Fifty-Year Mission… that chronicles all things Star Trek from before the first series debuted in 1966 to the last Enterprise and all the movies as well. I’d known how dysfunctional the original Star Trek set was in the 1960s, but I had no idea how dysfunctional all the sets were. It seems like whenever there’s even the hint of success for someone, someone else already in power’s going to get jealous, and when that happens it means trouble for everyone else down the line.

After having read the books, I get the feeling that whenever anything Star Trek related worked it was usually because of just a few people, but when Star Trek failed it was because of the decisions of committees.

My favorite actor/writer who redefined the superhero genera even though no one believed in him: Ryan Reynolds.

I’m not a big fan of actor Ryan Reynolds, but after 2016 I have to admit two things: 1) He was totally right in spending a decade doggedly trying to get his movie Deadpool to the big screen and 2), Deadpool is the character he was born to play. And now because of the success of Deadpool we have this alt-superhero movie that really isn’t like any other superhero movie before. And because it was so successful means that we now have the opportunity to have other superhero films that are new and different then the standard superhero fare that we’re treated to a few times each year.