Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #107



Rumor Control

2017: Sci-Fi Report

Looking back at 2017 I realized this year was actually a wonderful time for sci-fi movies and TV series. In years past there’s been one or two sci-fi things of quality to celebrate, but this year there are many. It feels weird writing this, but in 2017 sci-fi was the king of generas and every TV network is looking for the next Stranger Things and movie studio Star Wars. Now, not every movie or TV series below was successful, but “success” doesn’t always equate to “good” so I’ve listed everything I liked or found interesting in 2017.

Movies:

  • Alien: Covenant: This one didn’t get great reviews or do that well at the box-office, but I mean c’mon — it’s a frickin’ Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. What’s not to love!?
  • Blade Runner: 2047: A remake 35 years later of a beloved movie using the latest computer technologies for special effects that has the original star return? Sounds interesting to me.
  • Ghost in the Machine: I know a lot of people didn’t dig this one but I liked it.
  • Kong: Skull Island: This is a silly, fun movie about a group of army soldiers vs a giant ape. It’s not the greatest, but is still a lot of fun.
  • Life: I didn’t dig this one overall, but still dug its setting and characters.
  • Passengers: Another one I found “ok.” Still, “ok” in 2017 would have probably been on my yearly “best of” list ten years ago.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi: I loved this movie. It had problems, but what Star Wars movie in the last 20 years hasn’t? The Last Jedi is better than The Force Awakens, and I liked The Force Awakens.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes: The final(?) modern, Planet of the Apes movie which was the perfect ending to a six year trilogy of films.

TV:

  • Black Mirror: Creepy as [email protected]#$ and one of the best things on TV at the moment.
  • Doctor Who: Who would have guessed that a series which originated in 1963 would still be going strong in 2017, and beyond?
  • The Expanse: I love, love, love this show.
  • The Orville: See above.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: The latest Star Trek series isn’t getting a lot of love by the fans, but it marks the return of Star Trek to TV after an absence of 12 years which I think is a good thing.
  • Stranger Things: This series is the biggest reason to have Netflix.
  • Star Wars: Rebels: This series about what happened between movies Episode III and IV is as smartly written and acted as any of the great TV series out there. Even if it’s an animated show that aires on Disney.
  • Westworld: An HBO series about a theme park filled with murderous cowboys set in the future? Sure sounds like the perfect show to me!

TV

A Christmas Story Live! **/****

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas movies. I don’t have anything against them, but personally I’ve never found any I liked. Except for one movie, that is; A Christmas Story (1983).

I think it was partly because when it was released A Christmas Story didn’t do well at the box office and therefor showed up a lot in the mid–1980s during movie Christmas marathons when, I’m assuming, the movie was cheap to air so it played all the time. My parents and grandparents might have been into It’s a Wonderful Life or White Christmas, but for me and my brother the only reason to sit through those yawn factories was that eventually A Christmas Story would air.

I remember watching A Christmas Story and thinking that I felt the same way that the kids of the movie felt in terms of school, parents and friends. And now when I watch the movie I identify more with Ralphie’s “Old Man” than Ralphie and yet the movie still works. I think it helps a great deal that the movie’s set in my home state of Indiana and, even though it was filmed in Ohio, A Christmas Story looks and feels right.

Several sequels to A Christmas Story would follow but none of them would tackle Christmas time like A Christmas Story so perfectly captured.

So to say that I was a little concerned that FOX would be airing a three hour long live “event” of A Christmas Story just before Christmas would not be an understatement. For a movie as beloved as A Christmas Story that’s traditionally aired back-to-back for 24 hours every Christmas Eve to Christmas to be remade as a something that looks like from all outwards appearances as a cheap ratings stunt turned my stomach a bit.

Still, I decided to give this A Christmas Story Live! a chance and watched it last Sunday.

And to be honest, it wasn’t bad. I didn’t end up watching the whole thing but about an hour’s worth at the start and then flipped back to it every once in a while. A Christmas Story Live! has a sort of polished feel to it that’s not present in the more realistic, run down and slightly threadbare original. I feel like if you’re a fan of musicals, then you might be interested in the three-hour long A Christmas Story Live!. If not, you should probably just skip it and stick with the original.

Movies

Sicario 2: Soldado trailer

Ocean’s 8 trailer

The Reading & Watch List

Cool Movie Posters of the Week




Direct Beam Comms #106



TV

Stranger Things season two

“Oh can’t you see, you belong to me?” – The Police

The second season of the Netflix series Stranger Things avoided the dreaded “second season problem” many series that have fantastically successful first seasons face — mainly to not miss with high audience expectations. This season begins about a year after the end of the first where things have returned to normal back in Hawkins, Indiana. Or have they? When a mysterious blight begins infecting the pumpkin crops outside of town it’s quickly apparent that whatever was thought destroyed from the alternate “upside down” dimension from the first season was in fact only slightly deterred. And instead of having to face man-sized monsters, the kids of Hawkins must now face something more along the size of an office building that wants to claim our planet as its own.

Opposition

Much of the second season’s focus was on an opposition either between the kids of Hawkins and the adults, or both the kids and adults together against the things in the “upside down.” Will (Noah Schnapp) spent most of the first season trapped in the alternate, black “upside down” dimension. And while Will looks normal, something’s wrong as he begins experiencing visions of some thing that scares him. But no one will listen to him except his friends including Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink). But what can they do when not even the new head of the secret government Hawkins Lab Dr. Sam Owens (the always wonderful Paul Reiser) believes that anything’s wrong. They think that even though there’s still an open portal between our two dimensions that with regular burnings things can be contained. But as any good army general can tell you, containment can only last so long before there’s some sort of unexpected breakout.

Contradiction

One thing I found interesting about the second season was the contradictions between it and the first season of the show. In the first season the character of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) had escaped from that secret lab where then leader Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) had no qualms about using murder in order to get his way. In the second season a nicer head of the lab Dr. Owens is trying to help the Byers family return to a normal life after the first. The question is can Dr. Owens be trusted, or is he just another Brenner in disguise?

Premonition

A lot of what is Stranger Things is about characters knowing things they shouldn’t be able to. Be it Eleven being able to cast her mind out to see what other people are doing or even young Will hoping that everything with him’s going to be okay, but knowing inside that it’s not. That’s a big theme of the second season of Stranger Things, the idea that we can fool ourselves into thinking that everything’s going to be okay when the actual outcome’s doubtful. Like in the 1980s with things like toxic waste, nuclear weapons, pollution were in the headlines where people hoped for the best and tried to ignore the worst. Like the characters in Stranger Things come to find out, we can try to delay the inevitable, but the inevitable comes no matter what we do.

Compromise

If “premonition” is a theme of the second season, then “compromise” is too. Like with Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and the Hawkins lab, agreeing to bring Will in for regular tests, even if he’s secretly hiding Eleven from the spooks in a cabin in the woods. Or even Will’s mom Joyce (Winona Ryder) who’s trying to give Will a normal life after almost losing him, even if it means that she’s also trying to constantly keep him within eyesight and know where he is at all times. Life is full of compromises, and in Stranger Things that’s no different.

I can’t say that I liked the second season of Stranger Things as much as I did with the first, but if I did that would be saying a lot. That first season is a modern day classic that will be studied and imitated for years to come. Even if the second season isn’t as good as the first I’d still argue that it was a great one. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, was never quite sure where things were going and found the show a lot more gory and bloody than I thought it would have been. But in a a good way.

If the first season was what you get when you cross a story in the tone of Stephen King with the visual stylings of a director like Steven Spielberg, then the second is all that plus a hint of the comic book series X-Men thrown in for good measure. If what Eleven is, basically a mutant, and what she goes through in the second season, basically having to choose between someone like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — this season of Stranger Things veered slightly away from the template of the first season which had more straight-horror with elements of sci-fi and went for the full comic book TV series this season.

There’s a New Mutants movie about young X-Men in the making that’s due out next year that actually stars at least one of the regular cast of Stranger Things. From the one trailer that’s been released for that film it seems to have elements of horror that really hasn’t been in any superhero movies to date. It’ll be interesting over the next few years to see just how much elements of Stranger Things, like adding elements of horror to a comic book movie, will begin turning up in other movies TV series since I’d argue that if they do Stranger Things is the reason.

Comics

Whiteout Compendium

One of my favorite comics Whiteout is now available in a collected edition.

From Amazon:

The critically acclaimed and Eisner-winning WHITEOUT graphic novels from Greg Rucka (LAZARUS, WONDER WOMAN) & Steve Lieber (THE FIX, SUPERIOR FOES) return in this new compendium! Carrie Stetko is a US Marshal tasked with enforcing the law in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth―Antarctica. Collects WHITEOUT and WHITEOUT: MELT under one cover!

Punisher Epic Collection: Capital Punishment

The march of Punisher collected editions being released in 2017 continues with Punisher Epic Collection: Capital Punishment. Collected here in nearly 500 pages of material is content from 13 issues of Punisher as well as three different graphic novels.

From Marvel:

Collects Punisher (1987) #63–75, Punisher: G-Force, Punisher: Die Hard in the Big Easy, Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web. The Punisher hits Europe! When Frank Castle heads to London in pursuit of the assassin Snakebite, he fi nds a whole continent of trouble – and also his biggest fan: the British vigilante Outlaw! Their fragile Anglo-American alliance must survive a deadly chase from country to country that will draw in mercenaries from Batroc to the Tarantula! But can the Punisher put a stop to a plot that goes all the way up to the Kingpin himself? And if he returns to America in one piece, Frank will be targeted by the anti-vigilantism task force known as V.I.G.I.L.! Plus: the Punisher in space! The death-dealing Baron Cemetery! And a tense team-up with the Avengers’ own Black Widow!

Movies

Annihilation movie trailer

Cool Sites

The Reading & Watch List

Cool Movie Poster of the Week




The best TV series of 2017



Mindhunter

Serial killers have been stalking lots of TV series in one way or another for decades now. They play a sort of “boogeyman” to all sorts of various procedural shows and even turn up in regular old dramas from time to time. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day to lift sagging ratings that one might show up in a series like Modern Family. I jest, but it’s true that they’re all over modern TV yet there’s never really been a TV series to address where serial killers come from — that was until Mindhunter on Netflix.

Here, FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Trench (Holt McCallany) and professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) stumble upon the science of profiling active serial killers by interviewing jailed ones in prison. Back in the late 1970s when Mindhunter takes place everyone knew serial killers existed, but no one had taken the time to figure out how to find them. Then, the FBI was setup to take down bank robbers, not men who murder others for seemingly no reason. Enter Ford, Trench and Carr who spend the series trying to come up with ways of figuring out why serial killers are the way they are and if there’s any way to stop them in the future.

That’s why I think Mindhunter works so well as a series. The show isn’t about the FBI tracking down serial killers — that’s been done many times before on many other shows. Mindhunter is the thinking person’s CSI where the characters aren’t gunning down suspects, they interviewing and probing convicts to find out how they tick to try and develop a science as it were in order to be able to put together an intelligent profile of the killers to be able to catch them before they’re able to murder again.

Better Call Saul

Three seasons in and Better Call Saul is still one of the best things on TV — as of right now it’s the only reason to watch AMC. I’m constantly astounded at the quality of the writing, acting, directing, set design … well, everything about this show.

The third season of Better Call Saul finds lead character Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) life slowly imploding around him as important people in his world turn their backs on him while his law practice goes up in flames leaving him with very few options for a future where he’s got next to no money coming in with the bills still piling up.

GLOW

Another Netflix series, GLOW takes place in the 1980s at the heart of a real burgeoning women’s wrestling TV series called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — or GLOW. What, you don’t remember women’s wrestling in the 1980s!? The good thing is with Netflix’s GLOW you don’t have to as this show isn’t so much about the wrestling as it is about all of the women and men who went in to make GLOW a reality. Like Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an actress who can’t land a part to save her life where GLOW represents a last chance for her to be in the entertainment industry.

I think what works best about GLOW are the characters like Ruth — they’re all different and they all want different things out of their experiences with GLOW. Sometimes what they want goes together and sometimes what they want doesn’t.

Stranger Things

The second season of the bonafide pop-cultural phenomena Stranger Things debuted on Netflix a few months back and was easily the series the most people I knew were excited about returning. Stranger Things is a show that cuts across different demographics — I know 50 year olds who watch the show along with 10 year olds. It’s not necessarily a family show but is a show I think families can watch together. As long as those families don’t have kids who are too little and might be frightened of terrifying things that go bump in the night.

The Orville

I can’t say I was much looking forward to The Orville when I first heard about it last summer. A live-action sci-fi show from animated series impresario Seth McFarlane who seems to reveal in being controversial? And the first TV spots for The Orville sold the show as a sort of TV version of Galaxy Quest where the crew of the ship are buffoons.

But even watching a single episode of The Orville it’s plainly obvious that the series has got nothing to do with Galaxy Quest. In fact, The Orville might be the show that’s closest to the true spirit of the original Star Trek since, well, the original Star Trek.

The Punisher

Netflix really “hit one out of the park” with their latest Marvel series The Punisher. Like I’ve said before the character of The Punisher is one of my favs, so I suppose I’m predisposed to like this show. But I didn’t just like The Punisher, I loved The Punisher. It’s certainly one of my favorite series based on comic books ever, and is certainly my favorite Netflix superhero show.

Legion

I’ve never really been a fan of comic book TV shows. They tend to put the story ahead of the characters when to me it should be just the other way around. That’s why I loved the FX series Legion so much. There were parts of that show that literally take place inside of characters heads in this weird mental space where I had no idea of what was going on. Yet the characters of Legion are so strong I would, and did, follow them almost anywhere.

The Expanse

I know SyFy has been trying to turn their image around for years now. And while the quality of most of SyFy’s shows are questionable at best — as I write this SyFy.com which is a website that’s ostensively there to promote SyFy’s TV shows instead has articles about Stranger Things and Thor Ragnarok on its homepage, neither of which appear on SyFy — there’s one bright spot on the bleak thing that SyFy has become which is the TV series The Expanse. One of the best, if not only, hard-sci-fi series on TV these days, in its second season The Expanse continued to improve and tell quality stories about life in the future where humanity, on the brink of extinction, is still squabbling over trivial matters.




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.




Direct Beam Comms #99



TV

Stranger Things

These days, with how fragmented pop-culture has become, pop-cultural phenomenas are pretty rare. It used to be that once or twice a year some song, TV series or film would become a touchstone that would become a national focus for a time before we all moved onto something else. But with how pop-culture has become so expansive over the last decade with 400 new scripted TV series premiering every year, music for every taste existing in very specific channels, dozens of mega-budget movies being released each year and now competition from the likes of smart phone apps and social media — it makes for a landscape where it’s practically impossible for some pop-culture thing to break out of its specific marketing silo to phenomena status.

To me a “cultural phenomena” is some movie, TV series or song that practically everyone is aware of, even if they may have not ever seen or heard it. In the 1990s I was aware of the series Seinfeld, knew what channel it was on and what actors were involved even if I didn’t start watching it until the show was in syndication years after it became popular. And that goes for a lot of TV series that are cultural phenomena these days too. I’d say series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are phenomena in that I’d assume just about anyone who watches TV on a regular basis is aware of these two shows, even if many people have never actually watched an episode of them.

So, in a TV landscape where there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of scripted and non-scripted TV series airing each week I’d say those two are only two shows that I’d think would be considered “pop-culture phenomena.” Well, actually, I think there’s now three with Stranger Things joining the cultural phenomena ranks last year with its breakout TV season everyone’s still talking about.

Before the first season of Stranger Things debuted on Netflix the summer of 2016 most of the talk online about the show was how much it looked like the works of Steven Spielberg. And not all in a good way. I got the sense that most people thought Stranger Things was going to be derivative and dull and were counting it out before a single episode streamed. But once the episodes debuted and the reviews started coming in things changed for the show. What was about to be written off as a lame attempt by Netflix creating a show about the 1980s for the nostalgia set became something that appealed to both those who were fans of the sci-fi and horror genera, those interested in nostalgia and those interested in great TV too.

What I think works best about the first season of Stranger Things, where kids from a small Indiana town uncover a conspiracy when one of their own goes missing and another kid appears out of nowhere, was the story. It’s cool that Stranger Things is set in this nostalgia friendly early 1980s, but the story of Stranger Things works no matter where/what time it’s set. Set Stranger Things present day in Florida and the story would still work.

And that’s why I was so excited to see the return of this show — to get back into the story of Stranger Things that has a palpable sense of mystery and danger and to find out what everyone’s been up to the last year after the devastating events at the end of the first season of the series.

In the second season, it’s about a year after the first and everything’s returned to normal in Hawkins. Well, mostly everything. Will’s (Noah Schnapp) returned to the fold except he’s still experiencing visions from the “upside down” where he was most of the first season, Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) grades are falling since he’s still trying to find Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) dealing with her friend Barb’s parents who’re selling their house to pay for a detective to search for her.

What I found most interest gin in the show is that the characters are paying the consequences from the first. Be it Will being rescued, but now being called “zombie boy” by kids who are scared of him, Mike’s life being turned around from everything he went through or even Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) finding that while things around Hawkins have been pretty normal, it’s about to get a lot less so.

In Stranger Things, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction and just because the kids of Hawkins drove the evil out doesn’t mean that a greater one isn’t going to try and get back in and is stronger than ever.

Comics

Night Force by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan: The Complete Series

One comic series that I’m totally unfamiliar with that sounds amazing is Night Force. This comic series began in the early 1980s and lasted a measly 14 issues before being cancelled. I’m assuming that since the series was out just before I started collecting comics, and since it was so limited, that’s why I never saw it in the 25¢ comic bins at the flea markets or antique shops I used to frequent. Of course, it could also be that at the time of the 25¢ back issue comics I was too busy hunting for an Incredible Hulk #181, The Amazing Spider-Man #129 or Iron Fist #14 to notice something as interesting sounding as Night Force.

One thing — the collected editions of this series go for between $30 and $40 for paperback and hardback cover respectively, but you can find complete runs of the original comics on eBay for less than $20 shipped.

From DC:

The creative team behind Tomb of Dracula reunited in 1982 for DC’s NIGHT FORCE! The series begins as the mysterious sorcerer Baron Winter assembles a team to take on an occult evil. But can the granddaughter of Dracula’s greatest foe, a powerful parapsychologist, and a timelost warrior from the court of King David tackle these threats?

Toys

Alien 3 Dog Alien Maquette

The Prime 1 Studio and CoolProps Alien 3 monster looks amazing. From the sickly brown color to its translucent dome and swappable heads with mouth closed and open, this statue stands more than two feet tall and certainly one to own. Unfortunately, “amazing” comes with a steep price as this item is set to retail for nearly $1,700.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1954: Godzilla opens in Japan
  • 1961: Peter Jackson, director of King Kong, The Frighteners and The Lord of the Rings films is born
  • 1988: They Live premiers
  • 2002: *28 Days Later…” Premiers
  • 2009: The TV series V premiers
  • 2010: The first episode of The Walking Dead airs