Resin Heroes

The best movie & TV posters of 2016



The best posters of 2016 were for the movie Suicide Squad.

suicide_squad

Suicide Squad

One of the ways I judge the best posters of the year is if I’d like to have them hanging on the walls of my office — and boy-oh-boy would I love to see the posters for the movie Suicide Squad hanging there. What I think works so well about them is they break a lot of design “rules” by using elements like hyper “acidic” colors — or colors that a painting professor I had used to say, “were so intense they hurt my teeth” — and diverging design components that you’re not supposed to use.

Which, in lesser hands, could make the posters look amateurish, but instead makes the ones for Suicide Squad stand out from the flood of superhero posters that have come before. Posters for similar movies have, not so much failed, as failed to live up to expectations, in that they all kind’a look the same. I don’t think anyone would mistake the Suicide Squad poster for, say, a Captain America poster. And in an industry that seems to generate lots of campaigns that look the same as every other poster campaign, the ones for Suicide Squad have a wholly unique aesthetic.

the_arrival

Arrival

I am a sucker for sci-fi movies. I’ll give just about any movie or TV series labeled “science-fiction” a try as long as it looks interesting enough. And the posters for the movie Arrival makes that movie look reeeeeeeally interesting. They feature these colossal alien ships that look a bit like a cross between a squished hockey puck and a sunflower seed impossibly hovering in the sky. And the whole campaign puts these ships at different locals around the world which adds to the immense scale of the ships and the movie as well.

better_call_saul

Better Call Saul

I’m a big fan of the TV series Better Call Saul and I only wanted to see the premiere of the second season even more after the release of these posters. Here, the character of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is walking across the street at a crazy angle, and it’s just him that’s being affected by the slant. I love all the taglines this poster could have but doesn’t. Like, “It’s not easy being bent” or even, “Becoming a criminal is an uphill battle.” And the poster for Better Call Saul on Netflix is just as good with Odenkirk sitting oddly on a bench with the tagline, “The truth is how you look at it” above.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The poster for last years’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all right. It seemed to be a modern version of those classic Drew Struzan Star Wars posters of old, except that instead of Struzan traditionally illustrating the posters someone created a photo illustration. And while the poster for Rogue One is a photo illustration too, I think where that poster is unexpected whereas The Force Awakens is in line with what’s come before is that Rogue One has its own unique look and color scheme. So much so that I don’t think anyone could mistake it for another Star Wars film.

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Stranger Things

The poster for the breakout TV hit of the summer Stranger Things is just as cool as the other posters on this list but in its own way. This poster is illustrated in the Struzan style and has just enough nostalgia factor that even if the series weren’t a good as it is I’d still be a fan of this poster.

Captain America: Civil War & Star Trek: Beyond

I thought the posters for Captain America: Civil War and Star Trek: Beyond were top notch too. The poster for Captain America takes a closeup shot of Cap and Iron Man battling each other from the perspective of Cap — and there’s a companion poster out there too that shows this action from opposite angle. And the poster for Star Trek: Beyond is so different then the other modern Star Trek posters while at the same time utilizing design elements from classic Star Trek posters that it’s breathtaking. Interestingly enough, the poster doesn’t have Star Trek anywhere on it, we just get the Enterprise swooping on a field of color with the words “Beyond” below.

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The X-Files

The X-Files revival TV series might have been a bit of a mixed bag, but that doesn’t mean that the poster campaign released to promote the show wasn’t creepy as all get-out! “I still want to believe” indeed!

Deadpool

I don’t think I could call myself a true poster aficionado if I didn’t include at least one poster for the movie Deadpool on this list, the most PG of which features the title character making the heart sign with his hands with “Feel the love this Valentine’s Day” below.




Direct Beam Comms #12



TV

The X-Files

The X-Files mini-series ended its run last week and I’d rank this first season of new shows or 10th season of the classic ones, however you define it, as being more successful than not. What seemed to not work this time around were connected episodes related to The X-Files conspiracy while what did work were all of the other “monster of the week” episodes that were somewhat interconnected but all had self-contained stories. I’m not sure why the two conspiracy episodes didn’t connect with me this time around? Perhaps what scared us so much back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s like governmental programs to create alien viruses and media control seem quaint in a time of wars and real government media control and overall uncertainty.

That being said, with the new “monster of the week” episodes The X-Files operates like the old Twilight Zone used to where ideas that would be too controversial to be tackled head on instead were approached in the guise of sci-fi and horror slightly hiding the theme in the gauss of reptile scales or mutant telekinetic kids.

Historical Series

I’ve noticed that a lot of shows that take place at some point in the past have debuted. I kind’a wonder if this is because of the old adage that in uncertain times we tend to look to the past for comfort or if it’s simply because with bigger TV budgets and computer effects that can believably turn, say, 2016 Los Angeles into 1940s New York.

Here’s a listing of current TV series that take place sometime in the past, and this does’t take into account time travel shows like Legends of Tomorrow or 12 Monkeys that take place in the past and future too:

  • 11.22.63 (HULU): Early 1960s US but mostly Texas.
  • Agent Carter (ABC): Late 1940s New York and Los Angeles.
  • American Crime Story (FX): 1994 & ’95 Los Angeles.
  • The Americans (FX): Early 1980s Washington DC & northeast US.
  • Fargo (FX): Most recently the late 1970s northern US.
  • Better Call Saul (AMC): 2002 New Mexico.
  • Fresh Off the Boat (ABC): 1995 Orlando.
  • The Goldbergs (ABC): 1980s Philadelphia.
  • Halt and Catch Fire (AMC): Early 1980s Texas.
  • The Knick (Cinemax): Early 1900s New York.
  • Manhattan (WGN): 1944 & ’45 New Mexico.
  • The Man in the High Castle (Amazon): Alternate Reality early 1960s US.
  • Salem (WGN): 1600s Massachusetts.
  • Vinyl (HBO): 1973 New York.

Deadpool

Deadpool

Deadpool

It took me a while to see this one, and really the only reason I went was because a friend and his son were going and I got an invite, but I was pleasantly surprised as to just how much I liked Deadpool. It’s not like I hadn’t heard it was good; most of the reviews I read were glowing and all of my friends who’d already saw it loved it. But I’ve never been a big fan of star Ryan Reynolds or co-star T. J. Miller so I really wasn’t too excited about spending $10 to see Deadpool.

That being said, Wade Wilson/Deadpool was the role that Reynolds was born to play. All his acting tendencies that can make him so annoying and hard to watch in other roles actually work for the Deadpool character here. It’s like all the training he got playing the annoying guy in Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place and annoying Hal Jordan in Green Lantern … really the annoying guy in just about everything he’s ever played actually works well here in a movie about a superhero that’s supposed to be annoying.

I was surprised too just how strong the supporting characters in Deadpool were. Special mention goes to B or C list X-Men at best Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus. While Colossus has gotten a bit of screen time in the past he’s never been as integral, or as on-screen as long, as he is here as a character realized through CGI. And Negasonic, a character who I had only been dimly aware of before, shows that there’s really no need to call on the same roster of X-Men over and over again — Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine… — when there’s literally hundreds of other interesting characters in the X-Men universe to choose from in future stories.

And Deadpool is funny in all the right/wrong ways too. It’s almost as much a comedy as it is a superhero action movie. My question with superhero movies moving forward is if all the other traditional superhero movies that come after Deadpool will look old and stodgy in comparison? B+




Lone Gunmen (2001) TV series opening






Direct Beam Comms #11



TV

Vinyl

I thought Vinyl on HBO was pretty good. I have a little knowledge of music in the 1970s, but not a lot — does Almost Famous count? And I liked how the story of a record exec in the ’70s who’s life is slowly unravelling from a few bad business deals and cancerous acquaintances unfolds.

That being said, my big fear for Vinyl is that what worked so well in the first episode — namely a crazy pace that went from 0 to 100 and back to 0 again over and over and the drug fueled mania of the times will be discarded moving forward for a more traditional structure. Not that this will doom the show, just that it might.

The Americans season 4 poster

The Americans season 4 poster

The creators of Vinyl, Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese, also did this interesting thing with the story by jumping around in time. We get an opening scene of insanity, then a cut to “five days earlier” like a lot of shows do these days but the creators of Vinyl also do a fair amount of jumping far back to, what I’m assuming is, the early ‘60s when the main character Richie (Bobby Cannavale) was just getting into the business and was learning the ropes on how to rip off the musicians and make loads of money himself. And this isn’t just once, it was over and over again and was an integral part of the show.

I can’t imagine how much the music rights for the songs used in Vinyl cost. There’s a lot of original music from the ‘60s and ‘70s played throughout. And though there is a scene with Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin’s manager backstage at some show, Zep songs must’ve cost too much since that’s the one scene I noticed they used sound-alike music for.

Now that I think about it, Vinyl is Almost Famous via Martin Scorsese but from the business side “ruining” music. B

The X-Files

As we approach the end of The X-Files mini-series I decided to look back on episodes of the show that I especially liked, new and classic included. I noticed one thing about many of the ones I liked the best; they were all written by the same guy, Darin Morgan:

  • “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”
  • “Jose Chung’s ’From Outer Space’”
  • “Quagmire”
  • “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

It’s weird since all of Morgan’s episodes break the typical The X-Files mold, but I think that by breaking that mold he took the series places it might never have gone otherwise.

As I was researching Morgan I noticed another thing, he wrote my favorite episode of The X-Files spin-off series Millennium too. Now I can’t say I was a fan of Millennium since I only ever watched a handful of episodes at best. But one episode I did watch was entitled, “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me.” In it, a group of demons, who look like regular people to regular people but demons to each other, sit around a diner and talk about all the mean things they’ve done to humanity since they’ve seen each other last.

It’s the way that Morgan treats these demons, as regular Joes with problems of their own who see what they do as a job, that makes the episode so interesting and more memorable than other episode of the series.

Better Call Saul

The second season of the fabulous Better Call Saul started back up on AMC last week and picked up right where the first season ended with Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) having to decide whether to do the right or wrong thing after events conspired against him in the first season. A

11.22.63

The novel 11/22/63 is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, books by Stephen King. It’s about a time traveler Jake Epping from our time who goes back to try and stop the Kennedy assassination in order to change the present. But what he’s not prepared for is a past that actively tries to stop anything that might change history and Jake finding his place and love in 1960s Texas which he’d have to leave behind to return to our time if he’s successful in stopping Lee Harvey Oswald.

And now comes the Hulu series 11.22.63 with James Franco in the role of Epping. From the first episode the creators of the show have done their best in condensing King’s 800+ book down into a more manageable story. It’s tough to say what’s been removed from the story after only seeing one, but it seems like all of the major story beats from the novel, from the way time travel works to Jake going back in time and trying to see if he can make small changes to time pushing back against those changes are all still present in 11.22.63. What seems to be gone are some of the little details. Which is probably for the best with an eight episode series like 11.22.63 that only has a limited time in order to tell the story.

My only concern is that what I loved about the novel so much were those little details and I’d hate to see too many of them go.

One thing I was surprised by the first episode was that it had something that I don’t remember being present in the book; the idea that when Jake’s in 1960s Texas and he notices the past starting to push back he might be onto something major that’s going to happen in history even if he’s not aware of what’s about to happen. I thought this was a great idea. B+

The Reading List




Direct Beam Comms #9



TV

The X-Files

Last week’s episode of The X-Files entitled “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was probably the best single episode of any TV series in quite some time. In fact, I’d rate it up there with the best episodes of The X-Files classic series. It’s certainly as good as “Home” or “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” A

American Crime Story (The People vs OJ Simpson)

Mulder, Were-Monster, Were-Monster, Mulder

Mulder, Were-Monster, Were-Monster, Mulder

I was in college when the OJ Simpson trial was going on and seemingly every cable news channel was airing court coverage of it all day every day. To say that in the mid–90’s the trial of OJ Simpson was overexposed would not be an understatement. So much so that afterwards both the trial and OJ would mostly be forgotten other than as a historical footnote.

But, 20 years later this story somehow feels fresh again with the new FX mini-series American Crime Story that focuses on what was going on behind the media circus that enthralled the nation back then with OJ and the trial.

Looking back on it now, did the trial of OJ Simpson predict the rise of reality TV that would happen just a few years after the trial and the current rise of “true crime” documentaries? The trial had intrigue, well-defined characters and an unbelievable story that, unfortunately for the victims, just so happened to be true. B+

Toys

NECA’s new line of Cinemachines, die cast vehicles about 6 inches size the first series featuring toys from the movies Alien and Aliens are really cool. I just wish they weren’t as pricy as they seem to be, about $25 each. Though I might be forced to pick up a dropship and Sulaco “just because.”

Cool sites

2 Warps to Neptune: 2 Warps to Neptune is an attempt to document the experiences, ideas, and artifacts—the entire cultural and physical landscape, really—that defined a generation of kids in the ’70s and ’80s. My focus is on how a confluence of cultural forces—Star Wars and the resulting sci-fi boom, D&D and the fantasy boom, the evolution of the comic book industry, the video game and personal computer revolutions—gave rise to the original geek.

70s Sci Fi Art: A Tumblr picture blog with loads of cool artwork from the 1970s and ‘80s.

Aerospace Projects Review Blog: A blog about unbuilt aircraft and spacecraft projects.

Branded in the 80s: I grew up and came of age in an environment that was equal parts depressing and amazing. When I sat down and decided on a name for this project I wanted it to honestly reflect my passion and fondness for my childhood experience, and when I think about my childhood it brings to mind all of the corporate pop culture milestones I grew up with. For me, nostalgia can be a pretty odd beast, especially when it comes to mining through the proverbial junkyard left in the wake of decades of pop culture.

Culture Japan – Your portal to Japan: Danny Choo, the founder of Culture Japan, started his blog as a way to document the process of moving to Japan from the UK. As the years have past Culture Japan has evolved from documenting his life there, becoming a TV host and also chronicling Choo found his own company, the “Smart Doll.”

Strange Shapes: STRANGE SHAPES is dedicated to Ridley Scott’s Alien and Prometheus, James Cameron’s Aliens, and David Fincher’s Alien3. Valaquen’s blog has some of the most eloquent writing I’ve ever come across on the Alien series of films.