Resin Heroes

28 Days of Sci-February #15



O is for The Orville the closest thing to Star Trek since Star Trek




28 Days of Sci-February #1



A is for Lt. Alara Kitan, hardest punching officer aboard the Orville.




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




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.




Direct Beam Comms #105



TV

Happy!

Based on the comic series of the same name by writer Grant Morrison and illustrator Darick Robertson, Happy! on SyFy follows ex-cop turned hitman Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) who during a hit is shot, has a heart attack and starts seeing a small, purple cartoon-like flying horse named Happy (Patton Oswald). Happy’s an imaginary friend to a little girl who’s been kidnapped, and Nick in a near-death state is somehow able to see Happy when no one else can.

It’s an interesting concept, unfortunately Happy! isn’t a very good show.

The first episode is so overstuffed with story from an evil Santa Claus, the kidnapping, four mafia brothers out to get Nick, a secret password that’s somehow tied to the real evil-rulers of the world… there’s so much going on here there’s hardly a through-line in Happy!. It doesn’t help matters that things are so over the top in terms of colors, action, gore and character behavior that nothing’s believable yet Happy! is set in what looks to be our world.

What Happy! reminds me the most of is the AMC series Preacher in terms of tone, story and over-the-top-ness. And I didn’t think Preacher worked as a series and I don’t think Happy! does either.

What really sucks is this is the second terrible series to come out of SyFy this year, the other being Blood Drive. I’m not sure if the person picking the shows at SyFy has really bad taste or it’s overall bad luck, but so far the new genera friendly SyFy doesn’t look all that much different from the old SyFy of a few years ago.

The Orville – first season

I honesty didn’t think I was going to like the FOX series The Orville too much when I first heard about it last summer. I’ve never been a huge fan of series creator/star Seth Macfarlane and the whole vibe promos for the series were giving off — a goofy sort of Galaxy Quest — didn’t look that interesting either. But because I watch a lot of new shows, and because The Orville was the first of the new shows to debut last season, I checked out the first episode.

And I didn’t hate it.

I actually kind’a liked it. As the first season has progressed some episodes have worked more than others, but all in all I’d say that The Orville was a lot more good than bad and it quickly became one of my favorites of the season.

About the ship of the same name commanded by Ed Mercer (Macfarlane), who, along with Commander Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), Security Chief Alara Kitan (Halston Sage), Navigator Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) and others explore the galaxy in the distant future. Which has been done many times before in shows from Star Trek to Babylon 5 and everything in between. But what I think differentiates The Orville from other modern day similar series like the newest Star Trek: Discovery or even The Expanse is that whereas those two series follow the modern model of telling realistic, and often depressing, stories told over the course of an entire season if not series. The Orville harkens back to the shows of old where each episode is mostly self-contained and there isn’t a season-long story and everything’s positive.

Which I usually don’t enjoy. I like my TV series to be telling complex, interweaving stories over the course of many episodes thank you very much. But for whatever reason with The Orville, be it the humor, the strong characters, the acting, the writing, the whatever… I haven’t missed the whole season-long story here and I think The Orville is a stronger show for it.

If anything, The Orville is a love-letter, or really probably MacFarlane’s personal love-letter, to the original Star Trek series. Where the reason for exploration is a noble one and the crew of the Orville head off into deep space only wanting to gain knowledge and an understanding of alien species and cultures even if it means putting their lives on the line. But what’s different and new here is that The Orville is a funny series too.

Some of the humor started of a bit broad and unrealistic — I’m thinking of a scene in the pilot episode where Malloy and Mercer ride in a shuttle to the Orville as Malloy drinks a beer and the two argue about it. It’s more cartoonish humor than coming from reality. But over the course of the season things have settled down a bit and while there’s still comedic moments they don’t come off as weirdly as that scene did in the pilot.

Unfortunately, I think that scene in particular turned a few people off to the show. When The Orville first premiered there was almost a stampede of online commenters who damned the show which I thought was very unfair. With similar series like Star Trek there’s always been the idea that the first season is a write-off. The creators of those shows spend that first season finding their footing and it’s not until the second season that those series start to come into their own and show promise. Which makes me wonder why people were so fast to damn The Orville when if it were called Star Trek: The Orville instead fans would probably be more willing to give the show more of a benefit of the doubt than they did here?

I adore Star Trek: The Next Generation but the first season of that series was pretty atrocious. Last summer I went through and watched much of the first season again and enjoyed a handful of episodes. A handful. Much of the first season of that show feels like an attempt at recreating the original Star Trek series again in the 1980s and most of it doesn’t work. However, whereas a handful of episodes of the first season of TNG work, I’d say that just a handful of episodes from the first season of The Orville didn’t work. And even the ones that didn’t were interesting for all sorts of reasons.

Altered Carbon TV spot

Comics

X-Men Epic Collection: Mutant Genesis

Travel back to the dark and mysterious age that was the early 1990s when the hottest comic books on the market were titles from The X-Men universe. Collected here in X-Men Epic Collection: Mutant Genesis are loads of comics written and illustrated by some of the biggest talent on the market back in the early 1990s including Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, Chris Claremont and Whilce Portacio. Now I’m not sure if these comics have aged well in the intervening quarter of a century since I haven’t read them since they were first released, but if you’re interested in what comics were like “back in the day” you could do much worse than checking out this collection.

From Marvel:

The end of an era for the X-Men! The original team, now called X-Factor, takes center stage when Proteus returns from the grave. But when Apocalypse strikes, infecting Cyclops’ son Nathan with a deadly virus, Cyclops must make a bitter sacrifice! And the current X-Men return to Earth to find that Professor X’s old foe the Shadow King has risen — and taken over Muir Island! It will take X-Factor and the X-Men’s combined strength to triumph — and when the dust clears, the two teams will become one! An uncanny new era begins as the reunited X-Men go back to basics — beginning with a deadly confrontation with Magneto and his fanatical Acolytes!

Movies

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

You thought they’d never go back to the island, BUT YOU WERE WRONG! They always go back!

7 Days in Entebbe

Alita: Battle Angel

The Reading & Watch List

Cool Movie Posters of the Week