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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.




Thor: Even the god of thunder isn’t cool enough to lead the Avengers



The Marvel character of Thor is pretty interesting. He’s quite literally the Norse “God of Thunder” with all the supernatural powers of controlling lighting, being immortal and all the other fun stuff that comes from being a god. In fact, with his mystical hammer that gives him even more powers like flight and being an all-around tougher guy than the normal dude, he’s practically unbeatable by the regular Marvel comic villains.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

Which is why I find it interesting that while Thor might be one of the most powerful Marvel heroes ever, he’s not the leader of the super-powered super-friends force of The Avengers.

In the movies at least, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a heavy hitter, called in when the right people need to be punched really hard or when his brother Loki somehow finds his way to the Earth to cause trouble. Otherwise, he’s off on his own doing things in other parts of the galaxy/reality plains. His first movie Thor (2011) was mostly about him becoming a responsible adult and leader, with his younger self being apt to fly off the handle at the smallest slight or attack great armies on his own armed with not much more than his fists, a few of his friends and bravado. The next movie Thor: The Dark World (2013) had him fighting the Dark Elves who wanted to take over Thor’s home of Asgard and the Earth too.

In these movies Thor grows as an individual as he’s next in line for the throne of Asgard, turning from self-centered party-boy to a real leader who thinks of others first over his own safety. And while Thor doesn’t ever quite become that leader of Asgard — his brother Loki tricks everyone into him taking the reigns — it’s obvious that if he were ever called Thor would be a great leader.

So why is it if he’s ready to lead Asgard he’s not ready to lead The Avengers?

Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo

Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo

First of all, in the The Avengers (2012) there really wasn’t an The Avengers per se, as much as the movie was about the formation of that super-group. And even with the next Avengers 2: Age of Ultron you really get the feeling that Thor’s got other things on his mind — like the people of Asgard. And it’s hard to beat the leadership qualities of someone like Captain America who’s quite literally a “super soldier” and is a natural great leader of men and women in the times of crisis the Avengers always seem to find themselves in.

Still, if Thor’s not the leader of The Avengers he does play a very important role in the team. Okay, two roles, next to someone like The Incredible Hulk he’s the best at punching the baddies really, really hard.

Jeff Goldblum and Tessa Thompson

Jeff Goldblum and Tessa Thompson

His main role is to tie the entire Marvel film universe together. Much of the modern Marvel movie mythos is centered around things like “Cosmic Cubes” and the “Infinity Gems.” All these mystical things grant the possessor different powers like unlimited energy sources for super-weapons to the ability to control minds to name a few. So in the movies the bad guys want these things while the good guys are trying to keep them out of the wrong hands.

And the one guy who has actual knowledge of what these things are and what they can do, and is therefore really interested in keeping them away from the bad guys, is Thor. In fact, many of the most dangerous items are collected and housed in a vault on Asgard, though even these tend to fall into the wrong hands from time to time.

Now comes another Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok out now. This time a beaten Thor is cast to the planet Sakaar after Asgard is invaded and overthrown by the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett) who, I would assume, would want to get at whatever’s in those vaults. Directed by Taika Waititi who also had a hand in the oh-so-brilliant What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok looks to be a lot of fun with Thor alternatively having to fight gladiator-style with likes of The Incredible Hulk while at the same time teaming up with them to try and defeat Hela.

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Thor Ragnarok poster






Thor Ragnarok poster



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Direct Beam Comms #71



TV

Better Call Saul Season 3 episode 1 Grade: A

Some people think that Better Call Saul is a pale imitation of Breaking Bad, of which the latter is a prequel. When these people watch Better Call Saul they don’t want Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), they want the guy Jimmy becomes in Breaking Bad; Saul Goodman. Except what I think these people are really getting at is that they’re not as much interested in a Better Call Saul TV series and aren’t willing to take that show on face value, what they really want more Breaking Bad.

Which I get, Breaking Bad is one of the most critically acclaimed and loved series of all-time except I’d like to point out one difference between Breaking Bad and Better Call SaulBetter Call Saul is the better series of the two.

Much like from the first to second and now second to third, this latest season of Better Call Saul kicks off right where the last season ended. With Jimmy having betrayed his brother Chuck (Michael McKeen) which ended up with Chuck in the ER and then Chuck turning the tables on Jimmy. And Mike Ehrmantraut* (Jonathan Banks) finding out that while he might be following and keeping tabs on the criminal element of Albuquerque, the criminal element is also keeping tabs on him.

I think this is all why Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. I’ll admit that while Breaking Bad was a great series in its last few seasons, I honestly don’t think it was very good in its first few. I know I’m in the minority here, but I’ve tried watching that series from the start but could never get into it. That was until I started watching it from later on when the character of Saul Goodman was an integral part of the show. Then I liked Breaking Bad, a lot. But there’s the pesky fact that its first few seasons are just not that good, while Better Call Saul has been great right from the start.

I think a lot of that has to do that the creators of Breaking Bad having learned a lot of lessons from that series, especially what not to do, and applied them to Better Call Saul.

I find it ironic that Better Call Saul is a show with a lot of heart, from Jimmy trying and constantly failing to do right to his partner/girlfriend Kim (Rhea Seehorn) always trying to see the good in Jimmy and make him a better person. Even if in the end with the character of Saul and what he does/has done in Breaking Bad we know that’s a doomed task.

  • What’s not to love about his last name!?

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 12 episode 1 Grade: A-

It’s crazy to think about, but until last week the last new episode of MST3K aired nearly 18 years ago. What first started on a local TV station in Minneapolis in 1988, then moved over to the cable on The Comedy Channel which became Comedy Central before switching to The Sci-Fi Channel originally ended its initial run in 1999. I think most fans of the series, myself included, assumed that would mark the end of MST3K but a nearly $6 million dollar Kickstarter campaign in 2015 meant that there was now money to produce 14 brand new episodes of the classic series, which are now streaming on Netflix.

Jonah Ray and the bots

The classic MST3K is one of my seminal cultural touchstones, even if I only ever saw a handful of episodes when they originally aired. To me, MST3K is one of those shows that I keep coming back to year after year. And even though the sets and special effects of the show are cheesy, the spirit behind MST3K has been unmatched the last few decades. I think in the current era we live in when it’s very easy for filmmakers to make things look very slick, to have something like MST3K that at its core is about having things very raw and not slick at all is a bit of an anachronism. But it’s a good anachronism and is something that I adore.

This new MST3K is slightly updated with new faces like Jonah Ray in the lead as Jonah Heston as well as Felecia Day and Patton Oswalt now as the bad guys. But the bots are back and there are lots of familiar names working on the series behind the scenes so this new MST3K looks, feels and has the same tone as the classic series. There are the same cheesy hand-built sets, funny models and goofy inventions. But there are some updates too from Tom Servo sometimes flying around when they’re watching the movie and modern pop-culture references too. There’s a Walter White joke at one point.

The first Netflix MST3K episode takes on the dreadful Danish movie Reptilicus that I’d say was unwatchable in its original non-MST3K form. In fact the only thing that made the movie bearable was having it spoofed on MST3K.

Since all episodes are available and we can see what movies will be featured in upcoming episodes, my only wonder is that most of the movies that will be joked on are all at least 30 years old at this point? It’s not a complaint, just a wonder. Classic episodes of MST3K spoofed movies that were only a few years old at that point, it wasn’t all jokes being made about movies several decades old. I just wonder if getting the rights to even newer bad movies is more difficult that getting the rights to older, bad movies?

I’m Dying Up Here TV spot

Comics

Vigilante by Marv Wolfman Vol. 1

This edition collects the first 11 issues of the classic 1980s Vigilante series written by Mary Wolfman and illustrated by Keith Pollard. The 1980s Vigilante is DC’s kind’a sort’a answer to Marvel’s the Punisher, except whereas the Punisher doesn’t wear a disguise and goes after any criminals, Vigilante is masked and is a district attorney by day Adrian Chase who goes after the criminals he sees escape justice at the courthouse at night. From Amazon:

As a district attorney for New York City, Adrian Chase used the legal system to keep the streets safe. But when it came to protecting his own family, that system failed him. After losing his wife and children in a failed assassination attempt, Chase makes the fateful decision to take justice into his own hands!

Concealed beneath a featureless mask and supported by an arsenal of custom weaponry, Adrian Chase becomes the Vigilante—and declares all-out war on criminals, using their own brutal methods against them. But Chase’s new vocation comes with a price. Can inflicting violence on others truly heal the pain of his family’s death? Or is the Vigilante doomed to become the final casualty of his all-consuming need for revenge?

Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer

Thor: Ragnarok trailer

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1946: Tim Curry of the mini-series IT and movie Legend is born
  • 1954: James Morrison, TC McQueen of Space: Above and Beyond is born
  • 1964: Andy Serkis of The Lord of the Rings and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is born
  • 1966: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the Comedian of Watchmen is born
  • 1969: Joel de la Fuente, Paul Wang of Space: Above and Beyond is born
  • 1973: Soylent Green is released
  • 1979: James McAvoy, Charles Xavier of X-Men: First Class is born
  • 1979: The TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century premiers
  • 1996: The movie Mystery Science Theater 3000 opens
  • 2011: The first episode of Game of Thrones airs
  • 2013: Oblivion debuts in theaters