2001: a space odyssey

2001: a space odysseyOn a young planet called Earth, an alien intelligence – in the form of a large black monolith – tests the intelligence of a primitive race of primates. It also influences their development into a more ambitious and potentially more dangerous species. The monolith vanishes, having completed its task.

Millennia later, a primitive race of primates living on the planet Earth has developed the technology necessary to make short range space travel commonplace, and has discovered another monolith buried under the surface of Earth’s moon. Faced with the first solid evidence of extraterrestrial life, humankind launches a mission to Jupiter, the planet toward which the newly discovered monolith transmitted a brief signal. Astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole pilot the spaceship Discovery, carrying a cargo of three trained scientists in cryogenically-induced hibernation, though Bowman and Poole – along with most of the rest of the human race – have not been told about the monolith on the moon, and their fellow travelers were frozen prior to the mission to avoid that information leaking out. The Discovery’s onboard computer, the artificially intelligent HAL 9000, begins to show signs of unreliable decision-making, and when Bowman and Poole take steps to shut HAL down, it kills Poole during a spacewalk and tries to shut Bowman out of the ship when he goes to retrieve his fallen comrade. HAL also deactivates the three frozen scientists’ life support units, killing them as well. Bowman manages to get back aboard Discovery and shuts down HAL’s higher logic centers. But when Discovery finally reaches Jupiter as planned – with only one surviving crewmember – no amount of astronaut training, nor even the sum total of human experience, has prepared David Bowman for what he will find there, for the monolith has returned.

Download this episodescreenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke
directed by Stanley Kubrick
music by

Cast: Keir Dullea (David Bowman), Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole), William Sylvester (Heywood Floyd), Douglas Rain (HAL 9000), Daniel Richter (Moon-Watcher), Leonard Rossiter (Dr. Andrei Smyslov), Margaret Tyzack (Elena), Robert Beatty (Dr. Ralph Halvorsen), Sean Sullivan (Dr. Bill Michaels), Frank Miller (Mission Controller), Bill Weston (Astronaut), Edward Bishop (Aries-1B Lunar Shuttle Captain), Glenn Beck (Astronaut), Alan Gifford (Poole’s Father), Ann Gillis (Poole’s Mother), Edwina Carroll (Aries-1B Stewardess), Penny Brahms (Aries-1B Stewardess), Heather Downham (Aries-1B Stewardess), Mike Lovell (Astronaut), John Ashley (Ape), Peter Delmar (Ape), David Hines (Ape), Darryl Faes (Ape), Timmy Bell (Ape), Terry Duggan (Ape), Tony Jackson (Ape), Joe Refalo (Ape), David Charkham (Ape), David Fleetwood (Ape), John Jordan (Ape), Andy Wallace (Ape), Simon Davis (Ape), Danny Grover (Ape), Scott Mackee (Ape), Bob Wilyman (Ape), Jonathan Daw (Ape), Brian Hawley (Ape), Laurence Marchant (Ape), Richard Wood (Ape), Kenneth Kendall (BBC Newsreader)

2001: a space odysseyNotes: Actor Ed Bishop lent his voice to many genre animated series, including Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and an episode of the animated Star Trek series. He later appeared in the flesh in Anderson’s cult classic ’70s live-action series UFO as Commander Ed Straker, and appeared in the Big Finish Doctor Who Unbound audio story Full Fathom Five. Kenneth Kendall was a BBC newsreader in real life – the first person to do so on camera in the BBC’s history, in 1955. He parlayed that unique historical footnote into appearances – more or less as himself in his familiar job – on The Morecambe & Wise Show, Adam Adamant Lives! and numerous British-made B-movies. The only actors to appear in both this movie and its 1984 sequel are Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain. Director Stanley Kubrick had the elaborate sets built for 2001 destroyed immediately after production to make sure that they wouldn’t be reused in later films (such reuse being a common practice that he felt would cheapen 2001).

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Westworld

WestworldThe future: vacationgoers flock to Delos, where, for a thousand dollars a day, they can experience the dangers and delights of bygone eras in one of three large-scale simulations populated entirely by robots – Medieval World, Roman World, or Western World. Chicago lawyer Peter Martin decides to give the old west a try, and meets John Blane, a fellow vacationer who has visited Western World in the past, on the hovercraft flight to Delos. When they arrive, they don appropriate old west clothes and are issued real six shooters, though they’re modified so the vacation-goers can’t shoot each other, only the robots. Outfitted for their new lives as lawless cowboys, Martin and Blane step into…

The Old West: The frontier of 1880s America proves to be less luxurious than Martin expects. But after his first shootout with a mysterious gunslingers – a robot, of course – he begins to see the appeal; when Blane introduces him to robot women programmed to submit to paying customers’ sexual advances, he sees even more appeal. Other vacationers in the Roman and Medieval Worlds experience similar delights with a clear conscience, since the “locals” they are fighting, killing, or seducing are merely robots; any robots “killed” in action are repaired and returned to their scenarios. But some of the robots show increasing signs of malfunction, including disobeying their programming. The freshly repaired mysterious gunslinger kills Blane and pursues Martin even beyond the boundaries of Western World. Martin has no future to return to unless he can escape or find a way to kill his seemingly impervious pursuer.

written by Michael Crichton
directed by Michael Crichton
music by Fred Karlin

WestworldCast: Yul Brynner (The Gunslinger), Richard Benjamin (Peter Martin), James Brolin (John Blane), Norman Bartold (Mediaval Knight), Alan Oppenheimer (Chief Supervisor), Victoria Shaw (Medieval Queen), Dick Van Patten (Banker), Linda Scott (Arlette), Steve Franken (Technician), Michael Mikler (Black Knight), Terry Wilson (Sheriff), Majel Barrett (Miss Carrie), Anne Randall (Daphne), Julie Marcus (Girl in dungeon)

WestworldNotes: The opening “TV interview” segment setting up the movie’s backstory was a very late addition to the movie, and was written by a non-union advertising executive due to a Writers’ Guild strike taking place late in production. Having scored a success with The Andromeda Strain (adapted from his own novel), Crichton made his big-screen directing debut here in addition to having written the script. (He had already directed a TV movie called Pursuit which had aired in 1972 on ABC.) With MGM calling the shots on casting, budget, and a final edit of the script, Crichton had only a month and a little over a million dollars to shoot Westworld. (Despite this, Richard Benjamin, better known for comedy roles, considers it one of his better movie-making experiences. Benjamin would go on to star in the ’70s NBC sci-fi spoof, Quark.)

WestworldWestworld also offers a rare non-Star-Trek role for Majel Barrett, the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Yul Brynner appears in one of his final film roles before returning to the stage full-time; he would put in a cameo appearance in 1976’s sequel film, Futureworld, which which Crichton was not involved even at the story level.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Logan’s Run

Logan's RunIn the 23rd century, mankind lives in gigantic domed cities, protected by the elements and never allowed to venture outside. Pleasure is the only pursuit, but while there’s plenty of hedonism, there isn’t much longevity: everyone is expected to do their part to prevent overpopulation by laying down their life at the age of 30 in a spectacular ritual called Carousel, after which doctrine tells them that they will be reborn as infants. Implanted in the palm of every citizen’s hand is a glowing crystal that begins to flash red as their time draws near, and anyone who tries to defy the law and live past 30 is declared a Runner, and becomes the target of Sandmen – trained killers who, on the behalf of the city, put Runners to “sleep.”

It is this life into which Logan-5 (Michael York) is born, and he enjoys his work as a Sandman until the city’s central computer selects him for a special mission. Apparently, over the years (and carefully hidden from the general populace) over a thousand Runners have successfully escaped the city and taken refuge in a place known only as Sanctuary. Logan is assigned to become a Runner himself to infiltrate their ranks, and report back to the authorities where Sanctuary is so it can be destroyed, along with a growing resistance movement, once and for all. But no one will accept Logan unless they believe he has a reason to run – and thus he is subjected to a process which robs him of his remaining six years. With no indication that he will get them back if he accomplishes his task, and strangely drawn to a young woman named Jessica with dangerously dissident ideals, Logan finds that he now has more reason to become a real Runner than to fulfill his mission – even if it sets his fellow Sandmen against him.

Download this episodescreenplay by David Zelag Goodman
based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
directed by Michael Anderson
music by Jerry Goldsmith

Cast: Michael York (Logan), Richard Jordan (Francis), Jenny Agutter (Jessica), Roscoe Lee Browne (Box), Farrah Fawcett-Majors (Holly), Michael Anderson Jr. (Doc), Peter Ustinov (The Old Man), Randoplh Roberts (2nd Sanctuary Man), Lara Lindsay (Woman Runner), Gary Morgan (Billy), Michelle Stacy (Mary), Laura Hippe (Woman Customer), David Westberg (Sandman), Camilla Carr (Sanctuary Woman), Grew Lewis (Cub), Ashley Cox (Timid Girl), Bill Couch (Sandman), Glen Wilder (Runner)

Review: In some ways, it’s regarded as pure cheese now, and even ripe for a remake, but I find that I still enjoy Logan’s Run. And despite my admiration for the movie, it’s incredibly derivative – there’s very little of the basic premise of mankind’s fate and state of existence that I haven’t already read in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, from the hedonistic lifestyle to the great outdoors being a horrible place in which our heroes are ill-equipped to survive. Where the two diverge is Logan‘s commentary and parody of ageism. Read More

The Black Hole

The Black HoleIn the 22nd century, the crew of the small deep space probe Palomino find themselves dangerously close to an enormous black hole. VINCENT, the ship’s all-purpose robot, spots the silhouette of another space vessel against the enormity of the black hole, identifying it as the U.S.S. Cygnus, the largest American manned deep space mission ever launched, which stopped reporting back home twenty years before. More intriguing than the discovery of the Cygnus is the fact that the enormous ship is holding its own against the black hole’s gravity. Trying to investigate the Cygnus, the Palomino is caught in the gravity field of the black hole and sustains major damage. Forced to seek refuge near the Cygnus, the crew discovers a field of zero gravity around the large ghost ship. An even bigger surprise awaits when the Cygnus lights up without warning, after failing to respond to numerous attempts at communication from the Palomino. Palomino Captain Holland, along with scientists Kate McCrae and Alex Durant and blustery reporter Harry Booth, explore the ship with VINCENT, but it soon becomes apparent that someone – or something – is leading them carefully to the bridge of the ship and keeping them from other parts of the ship. The bridge is populated by robed robots, much to the disappointment of Kate, whose father was part of the original Cygnus crew. An enormous red robot appears and threatens the crew, and VINCENT puts himself between his crewmates and the menacing machine. A voice from the dimly-lit captain’s chair calls the robot off, and welcomes Holland and his crew aboard. It is Dr. Hans Reinhardt, the Cygnus’ legendary eccentric commander. Reinhardt tells the story of the Cygnus encountering a disaster which forced the crew to abandon ship, and caused the death of McCrae’s father. Reinhardt also reveals that he has developed the anti-gravity field that allows the Cygnus to maintain its position to study the black hole, but in the course of further conversation it also becomes apparent that Reinhardt may be mentally unstable. And despite Reinhardt’s order to help the Palomino crew find parts to repair their ship, his robot Maximillian makes no secret of the fact that it would like nothing more than to turn VINCENT into scrap metal.

VINCENT finds an old robot called BOB, a much earlier version of his own design, in charge of the ship’s equipment stores. BOB has been obviously been terrorized and brutalized by Maximillian in the past, but finally reveals some vital information to VINCENT: Reinhardt’s crew mutinied against him when the scientist took it upon himself to rewrite the mission of the Cygnus, and Kate’s father was murdered in retaliation. The rest of the crew is still aboard – their minds wiped and reprogrammed by Reinhardt, they are, in fact, the legions of shrouded “robots” who solemnly attend the ship’s stations. Alex becomes intoxicated by Reinhardt’s misguided genius, and Harry sees nothing less than the story of the century (with his byline, of course). VINCENT warns Holland, Pizer and Kate of the deadly secrets of the Cygnus, and when Kate tells Alex, Maximillian kills him. Reinhardt’s new mission is to defy the laws of nature, drive the Cygnus through the black hole, and find out what – if anything – is on the other side. And he wants his visitors to help him…or die.

Download this episodescreenplay by Jeb Rosebrook and Gerry Day
story by Jeb Rosebrook and Bob Barbash & Richard Landau
directed by Gary Nelson
music by John Barry

Cast: Maximilian Schell (Dr. Hans Reinhardt), Anthony Perkins (Dr. Alex Durant), Robert Forster (Captain Dan Holland), Joseph Bottoms (Lt. Charles Pizer), Yvette Mimieux (Dr. Kate McCrae), Ernest Borgnine (Harry Booth), Roddy McDowall (voice of VINCENT), Slim Pickens (voice of BOB), Tommy McLoughlin (STAR)

Notes: Early in the movie, when VINCENT has to fire a tether out of his back to secure himself to the hull of the Palomino, the sound heard is quite familiar – it’s the sound of the Enterprise’s turbolift doors opening from the original Star Trek.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

2010: The Year We Make Contact

2010: The Year We Make ContactDr. Heywood Floyd, the mission director of the Discovery mission, resigned after the ambiguous conclusion of that flight, a scapegoat for the U.S. government and the press to blame for the disastrous outcome. The Soviet Union offers Floyd a berth on a Jupiter-bound Soviet mission which will get to the derelict Discovery long before an American follow-up mission can be launched. Despite a precarious political standoff taking place between the two superpowers, Floyd talks the U.S. government into allowing him to go on the Soviet flight along with two other Americans – Walter Curnow, the Discovery’s original designer, and Dr. Chandra, the eccentric computer genius who created the HAL 9000 computer.

The Russian spacecraft Leonov arrives in Jupiter’s vicinity three years after leaving Earth, and Dr. Floyd is awakened from cryogenic hibernation prematurely by captain of the Leonov, Commander Kirblik. The Leonov’s instruments have detected unusual chemical reactions occuring on the icy Jovian moon of Europa, and a remote-controlled probe is launched to investigate. The probe is destroyed by an unknown force, but not before it detects chlorophyll, a necessary component of plant life. Upon reaching Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, Curnow and cosmonaut Bralovsky spacewalk from the Leonov to the Discovery, finding no trace of missing astronauts Bowman or Poole. Reactivating Discovery’s power systems, Curnow gets control of the older spacecraft and follows the Leonov away from the orbit of Io. Chandra manages to restore HAL, and the mission is now underway. The two ships reach the enormous monolith, and very strange things begin happening. Two important discoveries are made: the true motive behind HAL’s murderous behavior, and Earth’s solar system is about to change…forever.

Download this episodescreenplay by Peter Hyams
based on the novel 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke
directed by Peter Hyams
music by David Shire and Craig Huxley

Cast: Roy Scheider (Heywood Floyd), John Lithgow (Walter Curnow), Helen Mirren (Tanya Kirblik), Bob Balaban (R. Chandra), Keir Dullea (Dave Bowman), Douglas Rain (HAL 9000), Madolyn Smith (Caroline Floyd), Dana Elcar (Dimitri Moisevitch), Taliesin Jaffe (Christopher Floyd), James McEaching (Victor Milson), Mary Jo Deschanel (Betty Fernandez), Elva Baskin (Maxim Bralovsky), Savely Kramarov (Vladimir Rudenko), Oleg Rudnik (Vasili Orlov), Natasha Shneider (Irina Yakunina), Vladimir Skomarovsky (Yuri Svetlanov), Victor Steinbach (Mikolai Ternovsky), Jan Triska (Alexander Kiovalev), Larry Carroll (Anchorman), Herta Ware (Jessie Bowman), Cheryl Carter (Nurse), Ron Recasner (Hospital Neurosurgeon), Robert Lesser (Dr. Hirsch), Olga Mallsnerd (SAL 9000), Delana Michaels (Commercial Announcer), Gene McGarr (Commercial Announcer)

Oops: At no point in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 did Bowman ever say “My God, it’s full of stars” (though he does say it at the end of Clarke’s original novel). Also, 2010‘s more “modern” spacesuits made the replica of the 2001 spacesuit look streamlined and sleek – 2010‘s designs heavily reference the Apollo moon suits, but the 2001 suits seem much more advanced, if a bit less realistic. Also, check out Floyd’s amazing portable Apple IIc “luggable” computer – a 1984 model still in service in 2010 (not entirely impossible, since there’s still a working IIc used for Phosphor Dot Fossils reviews).

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Dune

DunePadishah Emperor Shaddam IV is on the receiving end of a rare personal visit from a Navigator of the Spice Guild: his longtime hold over the life-extending, interstellar-travel-enabling Spice Melange may be at an end. The Navigators foresee a “problem” involving the son of Duke Leto Atreides, ruler of the planet Caladan, and chief competitor of the spice-mining operation run by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, ruler of planet Geidi Prime…and personal pick of the Emperor to mine the spice found only on the planet Arrakis, known informally as Dune. The Emperor’s concubine, a member of the telepathic Bene Gesserit sisterhood, sets about trying to learn about Atreides’ son, Paul. As the male child of another Bene Gesserit woman, Paul may indeed pose a great threat to the existing balance of power.

Paul, in the midst of training to accompany his father to Arrakis, begins to experience visions of strange places and events, full of names and faces unknown to him. On Arrakis, Duke Leto Atreides impresses the local spice harvesters with his compassion and non-dictatorial attitudes, a distinct change from the iron-fisted rule of House Harkonnen. But the Harkonnen, eager to regain sole control over the spice, have set traps within traps: Leto’s personal doctor has been swayed against him, and multiple assassintation attempts are hatched. Finally, a brute-force assault puts Paul and his mother on the run, while Leto falls int othe hands of Baron Harkonnen.

Paul and his mother encounter the Fremen, desert warriors native to Arrakis, who defy the planet’s fierce desert climate with hidden stockpiles of water. The Fremen need a leader to fend off the inevitable campaign by the Harkonnen to re-enslave everyone on Arrakis, and in Paul, they find the prophesied leader. Paul must survive numerous challenges and introduce the Fremen to his ways if he is to avenge his father, overthrow the corrupt Emperor, and bring peace to Arrakis.

screenplay by David Lynch (credited in extended edition as Judas Booth)
based on the novel by Frank Herbert
directed by David Lynch (credited in extended edition as Alan Smithee)
music by Toto
Prophecy Theme by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno

DuneCast: Francesca Annis (Lady Jessica), Leonardo Cimino (The Baron’s Doctor), Brad Dourif (Piter De Vries), José Ferrer (Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV), Linda Hunt (Shadout Mapes), Freddie Jones (Thufir Hawat), Richard Jordan (Duncan Idaho), Kyle MacLachlan (Paul Atreides), Virginia Madsen (Princess Irulan), Silvana Mangano (Reverend Mother Ramallo), Everett McGill (Stilgar), Kenneth McMillan (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen), Jack Nance (Captain Iakin Nefud), Sian Phillips (Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam), Jürgen Prochnow (Duke Leto Atreides), Paul Smith (The Beast Rabban), Patrick Stewart (Gurney Halleck), Sting (Feyd Rautha), Dean Stockwell (Dr. Wellington Yueh), Max von Sydow (Dr. Kynes), Alicia Roanne Witt (Alia Atreides), Sean Young (Chani), Danny Corkill (Orlop), Honorato Magalone (Otheym), Judd Omen (Jamis), Molly Wryn (Harah)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

The Abyss

The AbyssA U.S. Navy nuclear sub, following an unusual sonar echo deep in the Atlantic, suffers an unexplained power loss that leaves it powerless to avoid a collision with the wall of a sub-oceanic trench. The sub plummets into depths it was never meant to descend, takes on water, and the crew is killed. The Navy commandeers a deep-ocean oil exploration rig operated by Benthic Oil, trying to beat a hurricane to the coordinates of the downed sub. Ed “Bud” Brigman, in charge of the Deep Core underwater platform, is less than thrilled when he learns that he and his crew will be taking orders from the Navy for a rescue operation, but he’s even less pleased when his ex-wife Lindsey joins the Navy SEALs who are paying a visit to Deep Core. The cocksure leader of the SEALs, Lt. Coffey, suffers from high-pressure nervousness syndrome as a result of the dive to reach Deep Core, and slowly loses control, growing violent and paranoid. Upon reaching the submarine, Coffey finally reveals that the vessel was carrying hundreds of megatons of nuclear weapons, giving Deep Core’s divers cause for concern – especially when they find that something other than the dead crew inhabits this part of the ocean. Another power loss occurs, and one of Bud’s crew sees something so startling that it renders him comatose. Lindsey also sees something, but she is unable to describe or explain it.

Unknown to Deep Core’s divers, Coffey has been ordered to recover one of the sub’s nuclear warheads, believing that whatever the diving team saw must have been a Soviet submarine. On the surface, international tensions are reaching a boiling point as Soviet and American military forces brave the hurricane to form a line of scrimmage that could explode into World War III. And worse yet, the huge crane which connects Benthic Explorer to Deep Core is torn away from the Explorer and crashes down into the 20,000 foot deep trench, dragging Deep Core right along with it. The platform comes to a shattering stop on a ledge halfway down the trench, out of contact with the surface, short on oxygen and power, and with no hope of rescue. The increasingly delusional Coffey intends to use his salvaged nuclear warhead to attack whatever has been causing the power losses.

When the unknown force proves itself fully capable of boarding Deep Core without harming any of the crew, they begin to wonder which is the greatest threat – an unknown life form buried in the depths of the Atlantic, or the human impulse for violent acts against anything or anyone unfamiliar?

screenplay by James Cameron
story by James Cameron
directed by James Cameron
music by Alan Silvestri / additional music by Robert Garrett

Cast: Ed Harris (Ed Brigman), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Lindsey Brigman), Michael Biehn (Lt. Coffey), Leo Burmester (Catfish De Vries), Todd Graff (Alan “Hippy” Carnes), John Bedford Lloyd (Jammer Willis), J.C. Quinn (“Sonny” Dawson), Kimberly (Lisa “One Night” Standing), Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. (Lew Finler), George Robert Klek (Wihite), Christopher Murphy (Schoenick), Adam Nelson (Ensign Monk), Richard Walock (Dwight Perry), Jimmie Ray Weeks (Leland McBride), J. Kenneth Campbell (DeMarco), Ken Jenkins (Gerard Kirkhill), Chris Elliott (Bendix), Peter Ratray (Captain), Michael Beach (Barnes), Brad Sullivan (Executive), Frank Lloyd (Navigator), Phillip Darlington (Crew Member), Joseph Nemec III (Crew Member), Joe Farago (Anchorman), William Wisher (Bill Tyler), Marcus Mukai (Anchorman #2), Wendy Gordon (Anchorwoman), Paul Cross (Young woman), Thomas Duffy (Construction worker), Chris Anastasio (Truck driver), Emily Yancy (Woman reporter), Michael Chapman (Dr. Berg), Tom Isbell (Wave reporter), Super Sea Rover (Big Geek), Mini Rover Mark II (Little Geek)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Apollo 13

Apollo 13The crew of the third American moon landing mission prepares for their flight early in 1970. At the last minute, command module pilot Ken Mattingly is declared unfit for flight due to possible exposure to the measles, and mission commander Jim Lovell can either make the flight with the backup pilot, Jack Swigert, or risk his entire crew being pushed back to a later flight. Lovell decides to replace Mattingly with Swigert, and even though Swigert has had less training time, he’s determined to make it a good flight. The launch goes off smoothly, and Apollo 13 is en route to the moon. But during a routine procedure, a huge explosion rips through the service module of the isolated spacecraft, draining the vital oxygen needed not only for consumption by the astronauts, but to provide electricity for the attached command module. Lovell, Haise and Swigert evacuate to the relatively tiny lunar module, which is meant to sustain only two men for less than a day – but they now face a journey of several days to return to Earth, during which they will have to shut down both the lunar lander and what’s left of the command module to preserve power. The three astronauts and their hundreds of landlocked flight controllers – including Ken Mattingly, who is most assuredly healthy and puts all of his effort into exploring possible survival solutions for his former crewmates – are focusing their energies on bringing Apollo 13 home. But time, physics, and the odds are all against them.

Download this episodescreenplay by William Broyles Jr. & Al Reinert
based on the book “Lost Moon” by Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger
directed by Ron Howard
music by James Horner

Cast: Tom Hanks (Jim Lovell), Bill Paxton (Fred Haise), Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert), Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly), Ed Harris (Gene Kranz), Kathleen Quinlan (Marilyn Lovell), Mary Kate Schellhardt (Barbara Lovell), Emily Ann Lloyd (Susan Lovell), Miko Hughes (Jeffrey Lovell), Max Elliott Slade (Jay Lovell), Jean Speegle Howard (Blanch Lovell), Tracy Reiner (Mary Haise), David Andrews (Pete Conrad), Michelle Little (Jane Conrad), Chris Ellis (Deke Slayton), Joe Spano (NASA Director), Xander Berkeley (Henry Hurt), Marc McClure (Glynn Lunney), Ben Marley (John Young), Clint Howard (EECOM White), Loren Dean (EECOM Arthur), Tom Wood (EECOM Gold), Godgy Gress (RETRO White), Patrick Mickler (RETRO Gold), Ray McKinnon (FIDO White), Max Grodenchik (FIDO Gold), Christian Clemenson (Dr. Chuck Berry), Brett Cullen (CAPCOM 1), Ned Vaughn (CAPCOM 2), Andy Milder (GUIDO White), Geoffrey Blake (GUIDO Gold), Wayne Duvall (LEM Controller White), Jim Meskimen (TELMU White), Joseph Culp (TELMU Gold), John Short (INCO White), Ben Bode (INCO Gold), Todd Louiso (FAO White), Gabriel Jarret (GNC White), Christopher John Fields (Booster White), Kenneth White (Grumman Rep), Jim Ritz (Ted), Andrew Lipschultz (Launch Director), Mark Wheeler (Neil Armstrong), Larry Williams (Buzz Aldrin), Endre Hules (Guenter Wendt), Karen Martin (Tracey), Maureen Hanley (Woman), Meadow Williams (Kim), Walter Von Huene (Technician), Brian Markinson (Pad Rat), Steve Rankin (Pad Rat), Austin O’Brien (Whiz Kid), Louisa Marie (Whiz Kid Mom), Thom Barry (Orderly), Arthur Benzy (SIM Tech), Carl Gabriel Yorke (SIM Tech), Ryan Holihan (SIM Tech), Rance Howard (Reverend), J.J. Chaback (Neighbor), Todd Hallowell (Noisy Civilian), Matthew Goodall (Stephen Haise), Taylor Goodall (Fred Haise Jr.), Misty Dickinson (Margaret Haise), Roger Corman (Congressman), Lee Anne Matusek (Loud Reporter), Mark D. Newman (Loud Reporter), Mark McKeel (Suit Room Assistant), Patty Raya (Patty), Jack Conley (Science Reporter), Jeffrey B. Kluger (Science Reporter), Bruce Wright (Anchor), Ivan Allen (Anchor), Jon Bruno (Anchor), Reed Rudy (Roger Chaffee), Steve Bernie (Virgil Grissom), Steven Ruge (Edward White), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Reporter), Julie Donatt (Reporter), John Dullaghan (Reporter), Thomas Crawford (Reporter), John Wheeler (Reporter), Frank Cavestani (Reporter), Paul Mantee (Reporter), John M. Matthews (Reporter), Jim Lovell (Recovery Ship Captain), Walter Cronkite (Opening Narration)

Review: This is, without a doubt, the best non-sci-fi space movie ever made. And it doesn’t hurt that, for the most part, it’s a true story. Read More

Zero Effect

Zero EffectGregory Stark has problems. The Portland executive has lost his keys – and someone’s blackmailing him out of millions of dollars. To solve both cases, which he believes are connected, he hires the world’s foremost private investigator, Darryl Zero. Zero is a reclusive enigma, seldom (if ever) venturing outside of his heavily-protected home, and interacting with his clients through his confidant, Steve Arlo. But in this case, Zero has to interact with the real world, leaving L.A. to travel up the Pacific coast looking for clues. As it turns out, Stark doesn’t just have troubles – he is trouble. And Darryl Zero faces the worst possible obstacle to his legendary detachment from the rest of the human race: he’s falling in love with the chief suspect.

screenplay by Jake Kasdan
directed by Jake Kasdan
music by The Greyboy Allstars

Cast: Bill Pullman (Darryl Zero), Ben Stiller (Steve Arlo), Ryan O’Neal (Gregory Stark), Kim Dickens (Gloria Sullivan), Angela Featherstone (Jess), Hugh Ross (Bill), Sarah DeVincentis (Daisy), Matt O’Toole (Kragan Vincent), Michele Mariana (Maid), Robert Katims (Gerald Auerbach), Tyrone Henry (Staffer #1), Aleta Barthell (Staffer #2), Tapp Watkins (Firefighter), Wendy Westerwelle (Motel Clerk), Lauren Hasson (Little Kid), Daniel Pershing (Rahim), David Doty (Officer Hagans), J.W. Crawford (Convention Employee), Fred Parnes (Chuck), Luisa Sermol (Waitress), Marvin L. Sanders (Astronomer #1), Doug Baldwin (Astronomer #2), Robert Blanche (Paramedic #1), Margot Demeter (Clarissa Devereau)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeTime-lagged super-spy Austin Powers is astonished to discover that his beautiful bride is, in fact, one of Dr. Evil’s fem-bots. And that isn’t the only trick up the evil genius’ sleeve – he has constructed a time machine so he can travel back to the late 60s, steal Austin’s mojo, and place an enormous laser on the moon which will put the entire world in his command, under threat of a powerful blast from orbit. (Why he couldn’t simply do this in 1999 is…well…a matter for another movie.) Austin must also return to the 60s, recover his mojo, and stop Dr. Evil and the diabolically diminutive Mini-Me from taking over the world (and if the opportunity presents itself for a quick round of shagging, Austin won’t hesitate to do that either).

screenplay by Mike Myers & Michael McCullers
directed by Jay Roach
music by George S. Clinton

Cast: Mike Myers (Austin Powers), Mike Myers (Dr. Evil), Mike Myers (Fat Bastard), Heather Graham (Felicity Shagwell), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Robert Wagner (Number Two), Rob Lowe (Young Number Two), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Mindy Sterling (Frau Fabrissina), Verne J. Troyer (Mini-Me), Elizabeth Hurley (Vanessa), Gia Carides (Robin Swallows), Oliver Muirhead (British Colonel), George Kee Cheung (Chinese Teacher), Jeffrey Meng (Chinese Student), Muse Watson (Klansman), Scott Cooper (Klansman’s son), Douglas Fisher (Man), Kevin Cooney (NORAD Colonel), Clint Howard (Radar Operator Peters), Brian Brooks (Pilot), David Koechner (Co-pilot), Frank Clem (Guitarist with Willie Nelson), Herb Mitchell (Sergeant), Steve Eastin (Umpire), Jane Carr (Woman), Kevin Durand (Assassin), Melissa Justin (Chick #2 at party), Nicholas Walker (Captain of the Guard), Steve Hibbert (Guard at jail cell), David Coy, David Crigger, Tom Ehlen, Dennis Wilson (Carnaby Street band), Eric Winzenreid (Private Army Soldier), Tim Bagley (Friendly dad), Colton James (Friendly son), Mike Hagerty (Peanut vendor), Jack Kehler (Circus barker), Kirk Ward (Soldier), Jeff Garlin (Cyclops), Rachel Wilson (Woody’s fan), Jennifer Coolidge (Woman at football game), John Mahon (NATO Colonel), Michael McDonald (NATO soldier), Jeanette Miller (Teacher), Mary Jo Smith (Unibrau), Carrie Ann Inara, Jennifer Hamilton, Ayesha Orange, Natalie Willes (Felicity’s dancers), John Corella, Alison Waulk, Michelle Elkin, Shealan Spencer, Tovaris Wilson (Party dancers)

Appearing as themselves: Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Jerry Springer

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green

Review: Previously, I waxed rhapsodic about the uneven Pleasantville, asking myself if it was a brilliant chunk of celluloid or if it was a big mess. No such quandary with Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This film is a big mess – a very funny mess at times, but still a mess.

I’ll confess up front that I passed on the first Austin Powers flick, as Mike Myers just really isn’t my cup of tea. But after a number of friends recommended it to me as the funniest thing they’d seen in 1999 (obviously, they hadn’t seen Bowfinger), I splurged and got the DVD.

Mike Myers’ over-the-top performance is charming in a lot of places, and it has to be in order to carry the whole movie along. The script, though it has its moments, is thinner than the paper on which it was printed. The real highlight of the movie is Dr. Evil and his secret plot to use a giant laser – dubbed “the Alan Parsons Project” (just one of many throwaway jokes about which a great deal of noise is made, in direct proportion to how funny the joke actually is). The bizarre dynamics of the bad guys is incredibly amusing, so much more so than the protagonists. The honest truth is that Michael York is the funniest of our heroes, mainly because this is just about the last movie in which one would expect him to be involved. Heather Graham got a lot of buzz from this movie, but she was much better in Bowfinger.

There’s barely a plot to the whole thing, so the main question is: is it funny? Well…sort of. Almost. In places…not at all. For example, the basic premise that Austin would accidentally drink Fat Bastard’s stool sample is amusing (disgusting, yes, but still funny), but the gag-inducing gag is drawn out for such a long time, with such an obvious conclusion, that it loses more belly-laugh potential with each passing second. Now, had Austin taken a swig of the “tea” and then proclaimed that it tasted like shit…that would’ve been funny. Still very sophomoric and predictable humor, but the impact of the moment would have compensated for it a little. Several potentially hilarious jokes are ruined in a similar fashion throughout the movie.

There are two scenes that keep me in stitches every time, though: a pair of montages in which Clint Howard, as a NORAD operator tracking Dr. Evil’s strangely phallic escape rocket, sets off a chain reaction of various short scenes and cameo appearances in which almost every possible colloquialism for the male reproductive organ is exhausted. While it’s still pretty juvenile humor, it still gets a big laugh out of me every time.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – hopefully the spy spoof’s stopping point rather than the jumping-off point for a new franchise – is good for a laugh if you’ve had a long day and your brain is already shut down for the evening. Trust me, you won’t need to use it to watch this one.

Arlington Road

Arlington RoadWidower Michael Faraday raises his young son and teaches a univeristy class on American militia, separatist and terrorist groups. His fascination with this subject has blossomed into an obsession since bungled orders cost his wife – an FBI agent – her life. Faraday is driving home one day when he spots a young boy with a horribly burned and bleeding hand. He drives the boy to the hospital and discovers that the child’s parents are his neighbors across the street – a family to whom he has never introduced himself. His neighbor, Oliver Lang, is grateful to Faraday, and the two become fast friends (as do their sons). But Faraday, who has become accustomed to subjecting everyone and everything he knows to extreme scrutiny, is a little unsettled by some of Oliver’s off-the-cuff remarks. Faraday begins to suspect that Oliver is not what he seems…and when he finds that “Oliver Lang” is the name of a dead man from his neighbor’s home town, it begins to appear as though his suspicions aren’t as groundless as everyone tells him they are.

screenplay by Ehren Kruger
story by Ehren Kruger
directed by Mark Pellington
music by Angelo Badalamenti and tomandandy

Cast: Jeff Bridges (Michael Faraday), Tim Robbins (Oliver Lang), Joan Cusack (Cheryl Lang), Hope Davis (Brooke Wolfe), Robert Gossett (FBI Agent Whit Carver), Mason Gamble (Brady Lang), Spencer Treat Clark (Grant Faraday), Stanley Anderson (Dr. Archer Scobee), Viviane Vives (Nurse), Lee Stringer (Orderly), Darryl Cox (Troopmaster), Loyd Catlett (Delivery Man), Sid Hillman (Phone Technician), Auden Thornton (Hannah Lang), Mary Ashleigh Green (Daphne Lang), Jennie Tooley (Ponytail Girl), Grant Garrison (Student Kemp), Naya Castinado (O’Neill), Laura Poe (Leah Faraday), Christopher Dahlberg (Buckley), Gabriel Folse (Merks), Hunter Burkes (Hutch Parsons), Diane Peterson (Ma Parsons), Josh Ridgway (18-year-old Parsons), Hans Stroble (16-year-old Parsons), Michelle Du Bois (Parsons Girl), Steve Ottesen (TV Reporter #2), Harris Mackenzie (TV Reporter #3), John Hussey (Accident Detective), Charles Sanders (Camp Official), Todd Terry (2nd Camp Official), Gina Santori (Party Girl/Student), Denver Williams (FBI Guard #1 ), Willie Dirden (FBI Guard #2), Paul Pender (FBI Van Agent), Charlie Webb (FBI Van Agent #2), Billy D. Washington (FBI Agent #3), Cindy Hom (TV Reporter #4), Dave Allen Clark (TV Reporter #5), Ken Manelis (Charles Bell), Deborah Swanson (Bomb Site Reporter), Homer Jon Young (Student)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyA seemingly typical Thursday throws Englishman Arthur Dent for a loop as he witnesses the destruction, in rapid succession, of his house and then the entire world. That he witnesses the latter event instead of being caught up in it is solely thanks to the intervention of his quirky friend Ford Prefect, who turns out to be an alien in disguise, researching Earth for a publication known as the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. After escaping Earth’s demise, Ford and a dazed Arthur wind up aboard the stolen starship Heart Of Gold, whose captain, Zaphod Beeblebrox, is out of both of his minds. But Arthur is also reunited with Tricia McMillan, the only other surviving human being, and reminds her that she once turned down his advances in favor of an incognito Zaphod at a party on Earth. Soon, the Heart Of Gold is being pursued not only by a Vogon fleet trying to recover both the ship and Zaphod, but also by Humma Kavula, the candidate who Zaphod beat out for the presidency of the galaxy. Tricia is captured by the Vogons on a planet to which Kavula diverts the Heart Of Gold, and Arthur sets out to rescue her, even if he can’t necessarily win her heart in the attempt.

screenplay by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick
based on the book by Douglas Adams
directed by Garth Jennings
music by Joby Talbot

Cast: Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent), Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox), Mos Def (Ford Prefect), Zooey Deschanel (Trillian), Stephen Fry (The Voice of the Book), Warwick Davis (Marvin), Alan Rickman (Voice of Marvin), John Malkovich (Humma Kavula), Bill Nighy (Slartibartfast), Helen Mirren (Deep Thought), Richard Griffiths (Jeltz), Thomas Lennon (Eddie the Computer), Bill Bailey (The Whale), Anna Chancellor (Questular Rontok), Su Eliott (Pub Customer), Dominique Jackson (Fook), Simon Jones (Ghostly Image), Mark Longhurst (Bulldozer Driver), Kelly Macdonald (Reporter), Ian McNeice (Kwaltz), Steve Pemberton (Mr. Prosser / additional Vogon Voice), Mark Gatiss (additional Vogon Voice), Reece Shearsmith (additional Vogon Voice), Jack Stanley (Lunkwill), Mak Wilson (Vogon Interpreter), Albie Woodington (Barman), Jerome Blake (Vogon Soldier), Dan Ellis (Vogon Soldier), Tim Perrin (Vogon Soldier), Tucker Stevens (Vogon Soldier), Ben Uttley (Vogon Soldier), Patrick Walker (Vogon Soldier), Mason Ball (Creature Performer), Sarah Bennett (Creature Performer), Danny Blackner (Creature Performer), Hayley Burroughs (Creature Performer), Cecily Faye (Creature Performer), Ian Kay (Creature Performer), Nigel Plaskitt (Creature Performer), Lynne Robertson Bruce (Creature Performer)

Hitchhikers' Guide To The GalaxyNotes: The original Marvin suit from the 1981 BBC TV series makes a quite visible appearance in the office queue on Vogsphere. Similarly, Simon Jones, the TV series’ Arthur Dent, appears as the cheerfully threatening (and honest-to-Zarquon anaglyphic) “answering machine” spokesbeing who threatens to destroy anyone approaching Magrathea.

Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith were credited in the movie as “The League of Gentlemen,” also the name of their well-loved UK comedy series (and, at the time of Hitchhiker’s release, upcoming movie); composer Joby Talbot was the resident musician on The League of Gentlemen. Gatiss has also written Doctor Who novels as well as the third episode of the new version of that series. Coincidentally, Bill “Slartibartfast” Nighy was the runner-up for the role of the Doctor, narrowly losing out to Christopher Eccleston.

Stephen Fry continued his Hitchhiker’s Guide association by lending his voice to the final episodes of the BBC radio series relaunched in 2004.

Richard Griffiths was the voice of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in this movie, but in the recent relaunch of the radio series he was the voice of Slartibartfast, filling in for the late Richard Vernon.

Hitchhikers' Guide To The GalaxyThe face of Douglas Adams can be seen prominently in two scenes; his face is one of the custom worlds under construction in the Magrathean planet-building yards, and his face is also the last thing into which the Infinite Improbability Drive morphs the Heart of Gold before the end credits. Adams’ family, including his wife, are among the panicked London crowds glimpsed briefly before the world ends.

Jerome Blake seems to spend a lot of time filling out aliens’ skins; he has also had roles in all three of the Star Wars prequels, as well as The Fifth Element.

Review: I’ve avoided other people’s reviews for this movie as much as possible to see this one with my eyes and my mind wide open, so I don’t really know if anyone out there is actually in the process of actively disliking The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. For my part, I loved it – between this and what I’ve seen of the new Doctor Who, I feel like British science fiction is entering a renaissance (though I’m waiting to see if The Tripods ever escape Hollywood development hell before I award the triple crown on that front). But the Guide made it through relatively unscathed – even with some Hollywoodification, the movie is tremendously enjoyable and surprisingly true to its source material, in tone if not necessarily in word-for-word faithfulness. Read More

Batman Begins

Batman BeginsYoung billionaire Bruce Wayne, traumatized by the murder of his parents, wanders the world attempting to find some purpose to his life. After being directed to the mountaintop retreat of Ra’s Al Ghul, Wayne seems to find some peace with his past. But Wayne is unable to join Ra’s Al Ghul in his quest to topple civilization and he, instead, tears down Al Ghul’s retreat and returns to his home in Gotham City to become its protector. He takes on the mantle of Batman and aligns himself with Jim Gordon, one of the few uncorrupted officers on the Gotham Police Force. But just as he begins to do some good, Ra’s Al Ghul comes back into his life, questioning whether he has chosen the right side for which to fight…

screenplay by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
story by David S. Goyer (Batman created by Bob Kane)
directed by Christopher Nolan
music by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer

Cast: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Michael Caine (Alfred), Liam Neeson (Ducard), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane), Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone), Rutger Hauer (Earle), Ken Watanabe (Ra’s Al Ghul), Mark Boone Junior (Flass), Linus Roache (Thomas Wayne), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Larry Holden (Finch), Gerard Murphy (Judge Faden), Colin McFarlane (Loeb), Sara Stewart (Martha Wayne), Gus Lewis (Bruce Wayne – age 8 ), Richard Brake (Joe Chill), Rade Serbedzija (Homeless Man), Emma Lockhart (Rachel Dawes – age 8 )

LogBook entry and review by Philip R. Frey Read More

Transformers

Transformers (2007)At a U.S. military desert base in Qatar, a helicopter reported shot down in Afghanistan mysteriously appears. Ordered to land, the chopper suddenly morphs into a gigantic robot and proceeds to hack into the military network, which is quickly cut off by the soldiers. Enraged, the ‘bot destroys the rest of the base and deploys a giant robotic scorpion to kill a small group of surviving solders, led by Capt. Lennox.

In Southern California, teen Sam Witwicky has scraped together enough money (as well get his GPA high enough) to buy his first car. To his dismay, his dad, Ron, takes him to a used car lot where one can count the number of cars still running on the fingers on one hand. His disappointment is soon quelled, however, when his eyes light upon what appears to be an early 1970s Camaro, despite the fact that the dealer, Bobby Bolivia, has never seen the car before in his life. But there is more to this particular Camaro than meets the eye: not only does it demolish all the other cars on the lot to get bought by Sam, it even helps him woo beauty Mikaela Banes, whom he’s known since grade school. That evening, however, the car suddenly takes off, and Sam pursues it to an abandoned lot, where it turns into a giant robot and beams a signal into space…

In Washington D.C., Defense Secretary John Keller announces the base attack to a group of signal analysts, with their only clue: a sound made as the military network was being hacked. One of the analysts, Maggie Madsen, begins to suspect that the signal does not originate from any government or person on Earth even as another attempt on the network is made…this time from Air Force One. Again the connection is severed, but this time a clue is discovered: a pair of glasses being auctioned off on eBay that belonged to Capt. Archibald Witwicky, whose journey to the Arctic Circle was cut short by a mysterious discovery that left him blind and insane for the rest of his life…and which Sam had set up in part to earn some quick cash.

Unable to convince Keller of her findings, Maggie takes a copy of the signal to Glen, an old hacker acquaintance of hers to help her decipher the signal, but it only brings more questions than answers, to say nothing of bringing the FBI down on their heads.

All of this activity and much more is brought to the attention of a secretive branch of the U.S. Government known as Sector Seven which has not only recovered what Archibald “discovered”, but has hidden it in Hoover Dam (the actual reason the dam was constructed) and used it to reverse engineer all the technological progress since the late 1940s. But even Sector Seven (including Agents Simmons and Banacheck) have no idea of what is really happening – that Earth has become the battleground between two different groups of sentient robots, the noble Autobots and the warlike Decepticons. For centuries their war has raged, completely devastating their home world of Cybertron, and now it threatens all of Earth, with humanity caught in the crossfire…

screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
story by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & John Rogers
directed by Michael Bay
music by Steve Jablonsky

Cast: Shia Lebeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Capt. Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (USAF Tech Sgt. Epps), Rachael Taylor (Maggie Madsen), Anthony Anderson (Glen Whitman), Jon Voight (Defense Sec. John Keller), John Turturro (Agent Simmons), Michael O’Neill (Tom Banacheck), Kevin Dunn (Ron Witwicky), Julie White (Judy Witwicky), Bernie Mac (Bobby Bolivia), W. Morgan Sheppard (Capt. Archibald Witwicky)

Voice Cast: Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Darius McCrary (Jazz), Robert Foxworth (Ratchet), Jess Harnett (Ironhide/Barricade), Hugo Weaving (Megatron), Charles Adler (Starscream), Reno Wilson (Frenzy)

LogBook entry and review by Joel Calhoun Read More

The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters

The King Of KongThe King Of Kong is a serious documentary about two men’s battle for, and the ensuing controversy surrounding, the world’s highest Donkey Kong score.

Download this episodedirected by Seth Gordon
music by Craig Richey

Appearing as themselves: Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe, Mark Alpiger, Walter Day

LogBook entry and review by Rob O’Hara

Review: For what sounds like to some a trivial, boring, or extremely nerdy premise for a documentary, King Of Kong is surprisingly entertaining and interesting, even for spouses and friends who wouldn’t know Mario from Luigi. (That’s a video game joke.)

In 1980, Walter Day formed Twin Galaxies, the official registrar for all videogame high scores. In 1982, a young game player named Billy Mitchell more than tripled the existing Donkey Kong record with a score of 874,300 points. Throughout the years, Mitchell has achieved other videogame-related milestones. For several years he held both the Burgertime and Centipede world records. In 1999, Billy Mitchell was the first person to play a perfect game of Pac-Man by achieving every possible point on the game’s 255 levels without dying. (That score was 3,333,360 – and for the record, on level 256 the game simply runs out of memory and crashes.) Over the years Billy Mitchell has remained friends with the guys from Twin Galaxies, even serving as an official game referee by watching submitted videotaped records of other game players’ high score attempts. Mitchell was named Video Game Player of the Century.

Enter Steve Wiebe, a nice guy who always finishes last. Wiebe lost his job the day he signed the papers on his new home, was almost a star baseball player, and plays beautiful music in his home for himself. Pretty much a failure at everything he’s attempted, Wiebe inexplicably decides one day to buy a Donkey Kong machine, put it in his garage, and play it obsessively until he breaks the world record, set by Billy Mitchell.

Surprisingly Wiebe does manage to break the record, a feat that not only shocks and surprises viewers, but the arcade community as a whole. Thus begins a huge battle that, in real life, is still being waged. At first, Wiebe’s score is discounted and his credibility is attacked. At one point, people from Twin Galaxies actually fly across the country to visit Wiebe’s Donkey Kong machine (which they do while he’s not present), implying that Wiebe’s machine has been altered. This theory is given legs when it is determined that the Donkey Kong machine in question came from Roy Shildt, Billy Mitchell’s arcade-playing nemesis. Eventually, Twin Galaxies’ head Donkey Kong expert (Billy Mitchell) invalidates Wiebe’s score and declares the old record (held by Billy Mitchell) should stand.

Twin Galaxies and friends offer Wiebe a “put-up-or-shut-up” deal of playing Donkey Kong live in front of them at a sanctioned event. Not only does Wiebe show up to the event (Mitchell is curiously absent), but in front of a crowd (of dozens) he achieves a Donkey Kong “kill screen” by playing the game so long that the machine’s code implodes and Mario dies for no apparent reason. In yet another twist of fate, shortly before being announced the best Donkey Kong player in the world, a mysterious videotape arrives with a return address from Billy Mitchell. What’s on the tape? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

As if the film itself did not contain enough controversy, several of the documentary’s subjects have cried foul as well. Throughout the film Wiebe is presented as the honest, hard-working and often slighted underdog, while Mitchell comes off as the film’s villain – not accidentally, according to Mitchell, Twin Galaxies, and its loyal league of geeky followers. According to them, several scenes within the documentary have been creatively edited in order to skew reality. For example, near the end of the film Mitchell appears to avoid a restaurant where Wiebe is eating dinner. In reality, not only did Mitchell enter the restaurant, but he ended up buying dinner for the entire crew – including Wiebe.

The King Of Kong is an entertaining film that doesn’t let the facts get in the way of telling a good story. For being a documentary about grown men playing videogames, the movie is surprisingly engaging, one that even non-videogame-playing fans will enjoy.

District 9

District 9In August 2010, Wikus Van De Merwe’s life changes forever. He is chosen to head up the effort by MNU to relocate a population of aliens to a new settlement. Since their ship appeared in 1982 in the sky over Johannesburg, South Africa, the aliens – generally known by the racial slur “prawn” – have been corraled into an inner city ghetto known as District 9. Johannesburg’s human residents have finally railed against the aliens enough that a very expensive and very risky resettlement has been undertaken. During the search of one alien residence in District 9, Wikus is exposed to some sort of seemingly makeshift biological weapon. Initially it only makes him nauseous, but within 36 hours of his exposure, he’s no longer entirely human. This is of particular interest to MNU, which is also one of the world’s largest arms dealers, and has long been frustrated by the inability of any human to use the aliens’ advanced weaponry. Wikus demonstrates – under duress – that he is the first human who can activate the aliens’ weapons. This makes him a hot property at MNU – though his employers now want to dissect him so they can corner the market on alien weapons, even if it means genetically re-engineering those who will wield them. Wikus is left with no choice but to escape, and now the only place where he has any hope of hiding is District 9 itself…but neither fully human nor fully alien, friends and allies will be hard to come by.

Download this episodewritten by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
directed by Neill Blomkamp
music by Clinton Shorter

Cast: Sharlto Copley (Wikus Van De Merwe), Jason Cope (Grey Bradnam, UKNR Chief Correspondent / Christopher Johnson), Nathalie Bott (Sarah Livingstone, sociologist), Sylvaine Strike (Dr. Katrina McKenzie), Elizabeth Mkondawie (Interviewee), John Summer (Les Feldman, Mil Engineer Team), William Allen Young (Dirk Michaels), Greg Melvill-Smith (Interviewer), Nick Blake (Francois Moraneu, Civ Engineer Team), Morena Busa Sesatsa (Interviewee), Themba Nkosi (Interviewee), Mzwandie Ngoba (Interviewee), Barry Strydom (Interviewee), Jed Brophy (James Hope, Police Officer), Louis Monnaar (Piet Smit), Vanessa Haywood (Tania Van De Merwe), Marian Hooman (Sandra Van De Merwe), Vittoria Leonardi (Michael Blomstein, MNU Alien Civil Affairs), Mandia Goduka (Fundiswa Mhlanga), Johan van Schoor (Nicolas Van De Merwe), Stella Steenkamp (Phyllis Sinderson, MNU Alien Relations), David James (Koobus Venter), Kenneth Nkosi (Thomas), Mampho Brescia (Reporter), Tim Gordon (Clive Henderson, Entomologist), Marne Erasmus (MNU Medic), Anthony Bishop (Paramedic), David Clatworthy (MNU Doctor), Mike Huff (MNU Doctor), Anthony Fridjhon (MNU Executive), Eugene Khumbanyiwa (Obesandjo), Kengiwe Madiata (Sangoma), Slyabonga Rodebe (Obesandjo’s Lieutenant), Melt Sieberhagen (Anton Grobler), Andre Odendaal (Mike Van Kerland), Jonathan Taylor (MNU Doctor), John Ellis (MNU Medical Scientist), Louise Saint-Claire (MNU Medical Scientist), Alan Glouber (MNU Operating Room Doctor), Nicolas Herbstein (MNU Biolab Technician), Norman Anstey (MNU Lead Medical Technician), Nick Borain (Craig Weldon), Robert Hobbs (Ross Pienaar), Sibulele Geliltshana (Gunters Woman), Mahendra Roghunath (SABC Anchorperson), Phillip Mathebula (Meat Stall Seller), Claudine Bennent (MNU Office Worker), Michelle Ayden (MNU Office Worker), Antony Sorak (MNU Office Worker), Billy Somogoca (MNU Office Worker), Ryan Whittal (MNU Office Worker), John Jacon (MNU Office Worker), Yashik Maharaj (MNU Office Worker), Fernando Soroiva (MNU Office Worker), Sharon Waugh (MNU Office Worker), Brandon Asret (MNU Mercenary), Jacques Gamboult (MNU Mercenary), Justin Strydom (MNU Mercenary), Simo Magwaza (MNU Mercenary), Theumis Nel (MNU Mercenary), Sonni Chidebere (MNU Mercenary), Matt Stern (MNU Mercenary), Danny Datnow (MNU Mercenary), David Dukas (MNU Mercenary), Daniel Hadebe (MNU Guard), Wisani Mbokota (MNU Guard), Craig Jackson (MNU Guard), Justin Duplessis (MNU Guard), Rodney Downey (MNU Guard), Den Antonakis (MNU Guard), Bongo Mbutuma (Nigerian Gangster), Johnny Selema (Nigerian Gangster), Mashabela Galane (Nigerian Gangster), Mlazwe Sekobane (Nigerian Gangster), Nicholas Ratiou (Nigerian Gangster), Saint Gregory Nwokedi (Nigerian Gangster), Donalson Rabisi (Nigerian Gangster), Zephania Sibanda (Nigerian Gangster), Gideo Thodane (Nigerian Gangster), Mdu Mfhabela (Nigerian Gangster), David Mikhemi (Nigerian Gangster), Jeffires Simelane (Nigerian Gangster), Shafique Allan (Nigerian Gangster), Wendy Mbotha (Nigerian Hooker), Leigh Mashupye (Nigerian Hooker), Beauty Setai (Nigerian Hooker), Nklyase Mondlana (Nigerian Hooker), Kuda Ruslke (Soweto Resident), Morena Setatsa (Soweto Resident), Mpho Molao (Soweto Resident), Ntombi Nkuva (Soweto Resident), Absalom Dkane (Soweto Resident), Monthandaso Thomo (Soweto Resident), Norman Thabalala (Soweto Resident), Siphiwe Mbuko (Soweto Resident), Shiela Nene (Soweto Resident)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Space Battleship Yamato

Space Battleship Yamato (2010)At the end of the 22nd century, planet Earth has been laid to waste by decades of radioactive planet bombs launched by the all-conquering Gamilas. The surviving human population has resorted to elaborate underground cities to survive, but the radiation will soon reach a point beyond which the surface of the Earth cannot protect them. All life on Earth is doomed.

Captain Juzo Okita, one of the Earth Defense Force’s most seasoned leaders, commands a futile action against Gamilas forces which have now gained a solid foothold in Earth’s solar system. The battle quickly turns against the human forces, and with only two ships left of the fleet he led into battle, Okita orders a retreat. The captain of the other ship, Mamoru Kodai, disobeys direct orders and covers Okita’s retreat – at the cost of his own life. Only Okita and his surviving crew escape the slaughter, and the Gamilas presence in the solar system is left unchecked.

Susumu Kodai – Mamoru’s younger brother – ekes out a meager existence on Earth, collecting scrap metal from the radioactive surface for the war effort. Something slams into the ground near Kodai, knocking him unconscious and knocking his protective gear off. When he comes to, Kodai finds a small capsule of unknown origin – and is even more surprised that, without his protective suit intact, he hasn’t died of radiation poisoning.

Once decoded, the capsule turns out to be a message from the distant but peaceful planet Iscandar, with complete instructions for building a new propulsion system which will make the journey, as well as a powerful weapon far beyond anything presently in Earth’s arsenal.

Lodged in the surface of Earth, in an area that was once the floor of the Pacific Ocean, lies the great World War II battleship Yamato, which is secretly being refitted into an advanced, one-of-a-kind starship using Iscandar’s wave motion engine design. In a last-ditch effort to save Earth, Captain Okita assembles an all-volunteer crew to make the journey to Iscandar. The Yamato will either bring back the means to return Earth to her former glory… or it will help humanity survive by relocating the best and brightest to another world before Earth’s fiery end.

screenplay by Shimako Sato
story by Yoshinobu Nishizaki
directed by Takashi Yamazaki
music by Naoki Sato

Cast: Takuya Kimura (Susumu Kodai), Meisa Kuroki (Yuki Mori), Toshirô Yanagiba (Shiro Sanada), Naoto Ogata (Daisuke Shima), Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (Hajime Saito), Tsutomu Yamazaki (Juzo Okita), Shin’ichi Tsutsumi (Mamoru Kodai), Maiko (Aihara), Reiko Takashima (Doctor Sado), Toshiyuki Nishida (Hikozaemon Tokugawa), Toshihiro Yashiba (Yasuo Nanbu), Kazuki Namioka (Saburo Kato), Takumi Saitô (Akira Yamamoto), Takahiro Miura (Furuya), Kensuke Ohwada (Kenjiro Ota), Kana Harada (Sasaki), Saaya Ishikawa (Shima’s Wife), Miyû Sawai (Higashida), Natsuhi Ueno (Tobita), Megumi Shôji (Hoshino), Ryohei Aoki (Jiro Shima), Yôsuke Asari (Ando), Yumiko Fujita (Saito’s Mother), Isao Hashizume (Heikuro Todo), Masatoh Ibu (voice of Desler), Kisuke Iida (Nanba), Marika Matsumoto (Nishina), Keisuke Minami (Kazuhiko Sugiyama), Kenji Motomiya (Space Cavalier), Satoshi Nikaido (Okita’s son), Shunsuke Oe (young Susumu Kodai), Kenichi Ogata (voice of Analyzer), Kôichirô Takami (Akira Nemoto), Takeru Taniyama (young Mamoru Kodai), Miyuki Ueda (voice of Iscandar)

Review: An eagerly-awaited live-action version of the seminal ’70s anime series, Space Battleship Yamato is an interesting exercise in what’s been kept intact from the original anime vs. what’s been changed due to the realities of producing the same story in a live action movie with heavy CGI. Read More

Space Station 76

Space Station 76Jessica Marlowe arrives at space station Omega 76 to begin a tour of duty as the station’s second-in-command under uptight Captain Glenn, whose previous second-in-command left under mysterious (and much-gossiped-about) circumstances. She meets the station’s other personnel and spouses in rapid succession, including Ted and his wife Misty, the latter of whom has an oddly distant relationship with both her husband and their daughter, and Steve and Donna, both eager to move on to a better posting than Omega 76. Jessica, unable to have children of her own, quickly befriends Ted and his daughter, as Misty grows jealous of her presence. Glenn continually questions Jessica’s fitness for duty and her every suggestion, until she realizes that his relationship with her predecessor was more than just professional. She finds that her feelings for one of her new crewmates is entering that territory as well.

screenplay by Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Jack Plotnick, Kali Rocha and Mike Stoyanov
based on a stage play by Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Jack Plotnick, Kali Rocha and Mike Stoyanov
directed by Jack Plotnick
music by Steffan Fantini & Marc Fantini

Cast: Patrick Wilson (Glenn), Liv Tyler (Jessica), Matt Bomer (Ted), Marisa Coughlan (Misty), Kylie Rogers (Sunshine), Kali Rocha (Donna), Jerry O’Connell (Steve), Matthew Morrison (Daniel), Keir Dullea (Mr. Marlowe), Ryan Gaul (Chuck), Space Station 76Victor Togunde (James), Jonny Jay (Trucker), Mike Stoyanov (Dr. Bot), Susan Currie (Steve’s Mom), Hart Keathley (Donna’s Baby), Anna Sophie Burglund (Star Angel), Sam Pancake (Saul), Katherine Ann McGregor (Janice), Julia E.L. Wood (Susan), Phillip Agresta (Crew Member), Kevin Beltz (Crew Member), Billy Brooks (Crew Member), Dan Burks (Crew Member), Melodi Hallenbeck (Crew Member), Marianne Heath (Crew Member), Matthew Horn (Crew Member), Shannon Jones (Crew Member), Alexander Koehne (Crew Member), Ilana Marks (Crew Member), Ken Koyasu Park (Crew Member), Jack Plotnick (Crew Member), Rachel Ward (Crew Member), Garrett Watts (Crew Member)

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Kung Fury

Kung FuryImbued with ancient knowledge of the martial arts, Kung Fury is the best beat cop on the streets, but refuses to take on a new partner because of the grisly fate that met his last partner. But when Adolf Hitler travels to 1985 to claim Kung Fury’s power for himself, hoping to become the Kung Fuhrer in the process, Kung Fury decides to return the favor. With the help of the world’s greatest hacker, Kung Fury travels back in time to stop Hitler from coming to the future. But even the best beat cop on the streets will have to meet a few powerful friends – and his maker – before he can take on the leader of the Third Reich.

See it now!screenplay by David Sanderson
directed by David Sanderson
music by Mitch Murder, Lost Years, Patrick Oberg, Christoffer Ling, Highway Superstar, Betamaxx, and David Hasselhoff

Cast: David Sanderson (Kung Fury), Jorma Taccone (Adolf Hitler), Steven Chew (Dragon), Leopold Nilsson (Hackerman), Andreas Cahling (Thor), Per-Henrik Arvidius (Chief / voice of Thor), Erik Hornqvist (Triceracop), Frank Sanderson (voice of Triceracop / Cobra / Dinomite), Eleni Young (Barbarianna), Helene Ahlson (Katana), Yasmina Suhonen (voice of Katana), Magnus Betner (Colonel Reichstache), Bjorn Gustafsson (Private Lahmstache), Eos Karlsson (Red Ninja), David Hasselhoff Kung Fury(HOFF 9000), Klas Trulsson (Police Officer), Mikael Liljeholm (Police Officer), Victor Lindgren (Police Officer), Mattias Andersson (Police Officer), Martin Gardenalm (Police Officer), David Sundqvist (Police Officer), Mattias Colin (Police Officer), Niklas Bjuhr (Police Officer), Hannes Sigrell (Police Officer), Marc Stromberg (Street Thug), Sebastian Sahin (Street Thug), Robin Arvidsson (Street Thug), Tobias Drews (Nazi Experimenter), Bepper Starbrink (Nazi Experimenter), Mats Mossing (Nazi Experimenter), Anette Bergstrom (Nazi Experimenter), Julian Maroda (Boombox Dude), Jason Blalock (Arcade Dude), Hjalmar Ekstrom (Arcade Dude), Joel Dunkels (Guy with Telephone), Sandra Nendos (Boombox Girl), Emilia Bystrom (Don’t Look Back At Explosions Boombox Walker)

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Pixels

PixelsSuburban pre-teens Sam Brenner, Ludlow and Cooper cross paths in 1982 at an arcade video game tournament. Sam’s natural knack for detecting the games’ movement patterns makes him a hot contender for the top spot, but in the finals, he loses to Eddie, a rude, crude kid who has bestowed upon himself the nickname “Fireblaster.”

The sting of being merely second place haunts Sam throughout his life; he stumbles through a series of unambitious tech jobs, and during his latest gig as an audiovisual installer, he hits on one of his clients, an attractive (but divorced) suburban mom who turns out to be a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Navy. They cross paths again when Sam is summoned to the White House; his old buddy Cooper is now the President of the United States, and needs Sam’s video game expertise when a mysterious attack on a military base at Guam bears striking similarities to the enemy attack patterns of the video game Galaga. Ludlow, now a shut-in conspiracy theorist, emerges with what he believes is a message from an alien race: they have seen a transmission of the 1982 arcade tournament, along with other samples of Earth culture of the 1980s, and have interpreted it as a declaration of war. Earth has now lost a battle and lost one “life”; two more losses mean game over for the planet. Eddie, serving time for fraud, is sprung from prison and offered a pardon by Cooper if he can help Sam and Ludlow defend Earth with their gaming skills. Another attack on Earth is lost, and the 1982 arcade champions must now reunite to save the planet from repeated waves of attacks that take the form of now-out-of-date game scenarios.

screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling
based on the short film by Patrick Jean
directed by Chris Columnus
music by Henry Jackman

Cast: Adam Sandler (Brenner), Kevin James (Cooper), Michelle Monaghan (Violet), Peter Dinklage (Eddie), Josh Gad (Ludlow), Matt Lintz (Matty), Brian Cox (Admiral Porter), Sean Bean Pixels(Corporal Hill), Jane Krakowski (First Lady Jane Cooper), Dan Aykroyd (1982 Championship MC), Affion Crockett (Sergeant Dylan Cohan), Lainie Kazan (Mickey Lamonsoff), Ashley Benson (Lady Lisa), Denis Akiyama (Professor Iwatani), Tom McCarthy (Michael the Robot), Tim Herlihy (Defense Secretary), Jackie Sandler (President’s Assistant), Jared Sandler (White House Junior Aide), William S. Taylor (Navy Secretary), Rose Rollins (White House Press Secretary), Tucker Smallwood (CIA Chief), Serena Williams (herself), Martha Stewart (herself), Allen Covert (Abusive Citizen), Bill Lake (NY Police Commissioner), Mark Whelan (Colonel Devereux), Dan Patrick (White House Reporter #1), Robert Smigel (White House Reporter #2), Steve Koren (White House Reporter #3), Sadie Sandler (Lemonadie Sadie), Sunny Sandler (Sweet Scout Girl), Hannah Covert (Arcader Choir Girl), Abigail Covert (Classroom Scout Girl #1), Sienna James (Classroom Scout Girl #2), Shea James (Classroom Scout Girl #3), Chris Titone (Soccer Player), Jonathan Loughran (White House Gate Guard), Toru Iwatani (Electric Dream Factory Repairman), Anthony Ippolito (13-year-old Brenner), Jared Riley (13-year-old Cooper), Andrew Bambridge (13-year-old Eddie), Jacob Shinder (8-year-old Ludlow), Jack Fulton (Little Boy on London Street), Kevin Grady (Samurai Gamer), Bridget Graham (Cyber Chick #1), Jocelyn Hudon (Cyber Chick #2), Margaret Killingbeck (Old Woman in London Apartment), Ron Mustafa (Indian Teenage Boy), Meher Pavri (Indian Teenage Girl), Annika Pergament (News Reporter), Lamont James (SEAL #1), James Preston Rogers (SEAL #2), Bola Olubowale (SEAL #3), Rob Archer (SEAL #4), Mark Sparks (Fighter Pilot), Steve Wiebe (DARPA Scientist), Sara Haines (TV News Anchor), Derwin Phillips (Secret Service Man #1), Michael Boisvert (Secret Service Man #2), Colleen Reynolds (Abusive Citizen #1), Jimi Shlag (Abusive Citizen #2), Emily Jenkins (Abusive Citizen #3), Sistah Lois (Sergeant Cohan’s Mother), Andrew McMichael (Arcade Employee), Gary Douglas (DC Valet), Eric Trask (Warden), Susie McLean (Press Person), Daryl Hall (himself), John Oates (himself), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom)

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The Martian

The MartianAres III, the third manned mission to Mars, is cut short by the approach of a severe Martian dust storm whose winds pose a serious risk of toppling their escape vehicle. The crew is ordered inside, but flying debris lowers visibility to zero, and strikes the crew’s botanist, astronaut Mark Watney. Believing Watney is dead, Commander Lewis and her crew blast off from Mars, leaving Watney behind. But Watney isn’t dead: impaled by debris, which also damaged his spacesuit, he makes it back to the crew’s abandoned habitat dome and performs an emergency surgery on himself. He then turns his attention to survival: the Ares IV mission isn’t scheduled to arrive for another four years, so he has to be able to eat, breathe, drink, and stay safe until then. His skills are uniquely suited to growing food, but no one has ever grown crops on Mars. In the meantime, it’s weeks before NASA realizes Watney is still alive, and months before they alert the returning Ares III crew to this news…but it will still be years before Watney can be rescued, if he can stay alive on Mars that long.

screenplay by Drew Goddard
based on the novel by Andy Weir
directed by Ridley Scott
music by Harry Gregson-Williams

The MartianCast: Matt Damon (Mark Watney), Jessica Chastain (Melissa Lewis), Kristen Wiig (Annie Montrose), Jeff Daniels (Teddy Sanders), Michael Pena (Rick Martinez), Sean Bean (Mitch Henderson), Kate Mara (Beth Johanssen), Sebastian Stan (Chris Beck), Aksel Hennie (Alex Vogel), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Vincent Kapoor), Benedict Wong (Bruce Ng), Mackenzie Davis (Mindy Park), Donald Glover (Rich Purnell), Nick Mohammed (Tim Grimes), Chen Shu (Zhu Tao), Eddy Ko (Guo Ming), Enzo Cilenti (Mike Watkins), Jonathan Aris (Brendan Hatch), Gruffudd Glyn (Jack), Naomi Scott (Ryoko), Geoffrey Thomas (U.S. President), Yang Haiwen (Chinese Flight Director), Narantsogt Tsogtsaikhan (Wen Jiang), Brian Caspe (Timer Controller), Matt Devere (Satcon), Mike Kelly (Launcher Interface), Szonja Oroszlan (Launch Control), Greg de Cuir Jr. (Capcom), Mark O’Neal (Guidance), Peter Linka (Telemetry), Declan Hannigan (Comms), Peter Schueller (NASA Break Room Worker), Waleska Latorre (Vincent’s Secretary), Frederik Pleitgen (CNN Reporter), Nikolett Barabas (Reporter 1), Karen Gagnon (Reporter 2), Lili Bordan (Reporter 3), Charlie Gardner (Robert Lewis), Nora Horich (Vogel’s Wife), Kamilla Fatyol (Marissa Martinez), Yang Liu (Chinese Translator), Xue Xuxing (Ming’s Secretary), Richard Rifkin (JPL Store Man), Nicholas Wittman (JPL White Room Worker), Balazs Medveczky (JPL White Room Worker), Ben O’Brien (JPL Pathfinder Team), Scott Alexander Young (JPL Pathfinder Team), Jason Ryan (JPL Pathfinder Team), James Dougherty (JPL Pathfinder Team)

Mars Pathfinder in The MartianNotes: The Mars Pathfinder mission and its Sojourner rover were launched in 1996, and landed in July 1997, arguably becoming the first space mission widely followed on the internet. Sojourner was the forerunner to the rovers that now explore the real Martian landscape.

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The Farthest

The FarthestOriginally proposed in the late 1960s to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment in the 1970s, NASA’s Voyager missions are slated for launch in 1977, loaded with the best technology available in 1972. The Farthest chronicles the design and construction, the launch, the discoveries and the in-flight triumphs and travails of the twin Voyager spacecraft, as told by the scientists and engineers who sent them on their journey and waited eagerly for the data from planets that, in some cases, had never been seen as more than a pinprick of light in a telescope. The Voyagers continue onward into interstellar space, having completed their planetary explorations, each carrying gold-plated “Golden Records”, audiovisual time capsules of life on Earth in 1977 that may outlive the entire human race.

Order DVDs & Blu-RaysDownload this episodewritten by Emer Reynolds
directed by Emer Reynolds
music by Ray Harman

The FarthestAppearing as themselves: Fran Bagenal (Co-Investigator, Plasma Science), Jim Bell (Author, “The Interstellar Age”), John Casani (Voyager Project Manager), Timothy Ferris (Golden Record Producer), Suzanne Dodd (Current Voyager Project Manager), Don Gurnett (Principal Investigator, Plasma Wave Science), Heidi Hammel (Planetary Science), Candy Hansen-Koharcheck (Imaging Science Representative), Andrew Ingersoll (Atmospheric Science), Charley Kohlhase (Mission Design & Navigation), Lawrence Krauss (Theoretical Physicist & Cosmologist), Stamatios “Tom” Krimigis (Principal Investigator, Particle Science), Dave Linick (Sequence Team Chief), Frank Locatell (Project Engineer, Mechanical Systems), Jon Lomberg (Golden Record Design Director), Linda Morabito (Navigation Engineer), Carolyn Porco (Imaging Scientist), Nick Sagan (Author & Screenwriter), Brad Smith (Imaging Science Team Leader), Larry Soderblom (Imaging Science), Ed Stone (Voyager Chief Scientist), Linda Spilker (Infrared Science Representative), Janet Sternberg (Golden Record Greeting), Rich Terrile (Imaging Science)

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