Resin Heroes

Robert MccCall The Black Hole (1979) concept art






Opening Credits Sunday: Manimal






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



Punisher Saturday: 1976 Punisher sticker






Alien: Covenant is not Prometheus 2



Prometheus has never been a fan-favorite film in the Alien franchise. When it was released back in 2012 it got middling reviews and, what surprised me the most, lots of fans of the Alien movies disliked it too. And when a sequel to Prometheus was announced last year, Alien: Covenant, there were still snarky comments online about how much Prometheus stunk.

Because of all the negative comments I avoided seeing Prometheus in the theater and ended up renting it on digital at home several months later. But instead of hating the movie I came away loving it. To me, Prometheus is a near modern sci-fi masterpiece about what happens when a group of people go off looking for god but instead find something that’s not quite the the personification of evil, but does have bad intents on the human race. Since then, I’ve watched Prometheus several more times and each time I find something new to appreciate about it.

But I still wondered? Why did so many of the same people who loved the other Alien movies that I love too dislike Prometheus so much? After a bit of contemplation, I think I’ve figured it out.

Up until now the Alien movies, and even the Aliens vs. Predator movies too (which should never be spoken of), were all monster movies. Alien is about a monster that attacks the crew of a ship who must fight back and survive. Aliens is about a whole bunch of monsters that attacks a group of marines who must fight back and survive. Alien 3 is about a monster that attacks a group of prisoners who must fight back and survive. And Alien: Resurrection is about a couple of monsters who attacks some scientists and pirates who must fight back and survive.

What if Prometheus doesn’t have anything to do with anything after Alien?

But Prometheus is a different film entirely. It’s the movie that broke the Alien mold and I think that’s why the fans of the genera didn’t like it. They wanted more “monsters vs…” and instead they got something different.

Prometheus is a horror movie that’s not really a monster movie though there are monsters in it. It’s almost a body-horror movie with characters being infected with something “icky” and being turned into some very weird things and another that has to have one of these things cut out of her. But for the most part, Prometheus is about exploration, and what happens when you assume the thing you’re looking for wants to be found when it really doesn’t.

Prometheus Movie Review. 

So, instead of the fans embracing something new and unique they turned mostly against Prometheus, derided it and some still dislike it to this day. Of course there are people other than me who like Prometheus, I’m friends with a few of them. But for the most part, whenever a news story about Prometheus appears online it’s snark, snark snark about that movie and why can’t we get back to the original monster films?

It sometimes seems like fans of a franchise get upset if sequels are exactly like the first movie and don’t do anything different, but they also don’t like it if the sequel is too different then the original and takes the franchise in a new direction. It’s a tightrope that the creators of movies like Prometheus must walk, and even if they get it right creatively like I think they did they can still be considered a failure in the eyes of the fans if the movie doesn’t unfold they way they think it should.

Which is what looks like is happening with Alien: Covenant. That movie, in theaters now, looks like it’s a return to the monster movie genra for the franchise with the crew of a colony ship the “Covenant” running across the remains of what was left of things after Prometheus while having to do battle with the classic alien xenomorph monster from the first film. And I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here by saying that since the very first trailer for that movie and TV spots as well feature this classic alien very prominently.

Still, I pine for what might have been with a true Prometheus sequel if that movie hadn’t been so savaged by critics or had done better at the box office.