Star Trek Discovery episode 5 review

Lorca is off meeting some admiral to discuss the war. She tells him he needs to give the spore drive a rest as it is Starfleet’s one secret weapon. On the way back to the Discovery Lorca’s shuttle gets captured by Klingons.

PLOT HOLE ALERT – This begs the question why not just meet the admiral by hologram? Or she could have sent an email. “Dear Captian Lorca. Give the spore drive a rest. Thanks.”

Anyway on board the Klingon ship Lorca is chucked into a cell with none other than Harcourt Fenton Mudd from the original series. From time to time Klingons come to the cell and demand the prisoners choose their pain, namely pick who’s in for a kicking. Mudd has played the system well and always picks some other poor devil.

The Klingons interrogate Lorca about the Discovery’s special abilities and torture him by using bright lights.

Mudd is scathing about Lorca, claiming that at the start of the war Lorca abandoned his ship and crew. Lorca says he blew up his ship to save his crew from being captured by Klingons.

On Discovery they are looking for Lorca’s position. Saru has doubts about being captain. Later he tells Burnham he resents that he lost his chance to learn from Georgiou as Burnham did. At one point he looks up a list of the best Starfleet captains and its fun to see the names Jonathan Archer, Robert April, Christopher Pike and Matt Decker there.

At one point Tilly drops the F-bomb. This is a first for Star Trek. The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk then also drops it just in case we didn’t hear it correctly. For a moment it looks like they want to turn to the camera and say, “Yeah, you f***ing heard right, we just said f***. What the f*** do you think of that?”

Saru demands the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature be made to work. But it kind of gets sick and shrivels up into a CGI blob. Instead The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk injects himself with some technobabble and takes the place of the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature so the spore drive will work.

Lorca returns from Klingon torture and reveals that Mudd’s pet insect has a Klingon transmitter in it allowing the Klingons to listen into the prisoners.

PLOT HOLE ALERT – This doesn’t make any sense as it’s a Klingon ship. What’s to stop the Klingon’s listening in via a microphone in the walls or something?

Lorca and another Starfleet bod escape from the Klingon ship, basically because Lorca is badass. Lorca leaves Mudd behind because of the Mudd Insect Incident. Discovery arrives and rescues Lorca.

Saru tells Burnham to get the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature all better so she ejects it out of the airlock where it unshrivels itself and flies off into space.

What the actual hell? Someone wrote this? And everyone else liked it?

The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk is washing is teeth with his husband, the doctor (who probably has a name but I can’t remember it as he hasn’t been given anything more interesting to do than wash his teeth). They leave the bathroom and the reflection of Not Alan Tudyk stays behind.

Huh.

So plot holes, F-words and CGI nonsense aside this was an ok episode. Methinks Mudd must return…

Star Trek Discovery episode 4 review

Here are my thoughts on Star Trek Discovery episode 4. Be warned, spoilers below.

Ok, so Burnham is kind of settling down to the new reality on board the Discovery. In addition to being assigned crew quarters she’s even been given a uniform out of the replicator (or fabricator or whatever the 23rd century version of a replicator is). Although they have neglected to give her a rank and there’s a missing Starfleet badge. Mmm… Story arc methinks… bet there will be a badge there in a few episodes time…

In walks Tilly with a package for Burnham. It’s only the last will and testament of the late captain Georgiou. Burnham recoils as if burned.

In the turbolift there’s my main man Saru surprised to see Burnham. Seems he didn’t get the memo that she wasn’t going to be on the prison shuttle. Captain Lorca shows her his menagerie (as I call it) and tells her to get to work on researching the spore drive, specifically how did the USS Glenn get it to work.

Remember the CGI beastie from last week? Tory from Battlestar has the very clever idea of letting it out of its containment box and trying to cut its claws off.

Guess what… Tory is toast.

Actual Tory shaped toast. With added claw marks.

I though the cool looking sickbay would heal her but no. She is an ex-Tory and is departed. Wow. I was sure Tory would be a slightly confrontational regular character going forward.

No one is safe.

So Burnham does her thing and works out the creature not a predator after all and only defends itself when threatened. Also it has some sort of relationship with the spores. Hand wave. No, I don’t understand it.

In any event they work out how to use the creature to make the spore drive work and this lets them rescue a Federation facility on a dilithium planet from some attacking Klingons. But only Burnham has the empathy to see the creature is suffering.

Side note 1: When they turn on the spore drive the saucer section of the ship does a very cool spinning thing. That’s new.

Side note 2: The “using creature cruelly to power spaceship” was done in a 2010 episode of Doctor Who. True story.

Meanwhile in the Klingon spaceship graveyard where the battle of the binary stars took place we meet our Klingon friends as they attempt to fix the ship crippled by captain Georgiou. More Klingons turn up as they want the ship fixed and in operation as it’s the only one that can cloak apparently. They make off with the ship and leave the torchbearer Klingon in the ruins of the Shenzhou. Interesting. Is he going to fix the Shenzhou?

Side note 3. Apparently the Klingons ate the dead Captain Georgiou. Like actually ate, not a figure of speech. Ew.

Back on the discovery Burnham finally gets the courage to open up the Georgiou box. A holographic message plays saying Burnham is like a daughter to her. Aw. And she probably is a captain by now. Oops. As I predicted inside the box is the telescope from Georgeau’s ready room on the Shenzhou.

So overall another good episode, although I didn’t like it just as much as the first three. I’m still intrigued to see where this is going.

Blade Runner 2049 review

IMG_0535Here are my thoughts on Blade Runner 2049. I will be staying clear of major plot spoilers as this is a movie that you need to go to see knowing as little as possible.

Like the 1982 original this one opens with a text crawl to get us up to speed with what replicants are and what a Blade Runner is. But also we learn what happened between 2019 and 2049. Basically there was a “blackout” of electronic information a few years after the events of the first movie. And this was accompanied by even more ecological collapse.

Just for good measure we then get a close up of an eye staring back at us. Yes indeed, this is Blade Runner.

It’s worth mentioning the first sequence of the movie featuring Ryan Gosling’s character, Blade Runner K, confronting Dave Bautista’s fugitive replicant Sapper Morton. I think this is a reworking of a scene that was in an earlier draft of the first movie where Deckard sits in a farmhouse in the country waiting for the farmer to return home. After “retiring” the farmer the Blade Runner detaches the farmer’s jawbone where a serial number is stamped, revealing that the farmer was a replicant. This scene certainly seems to be inspired by that one.

Without going into any detail at all K discovers something that will lead him, and others, on a quest to find former Blade Runner Deckard.

Back in dystopian Los Angeles K goes home to Joi (Ana de Armas), the perfect wife/girlfriend. It turns out she is an AI companion who appears as an intangible hologram. She’s just a product, a bit of software, but she certainly seems to have a connection to K and he to her. Elsewhere in the movie it is asked if a replicant can have a soul. Joi got me wondering if an AI can have a soul. Everything she does for K is completely selfless. Is she just software? Or is there something more at work?

We also meet what are essentially the villains of the piece, Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto and his enforcer Luv played by Sylvia Hoeks. Wallace has taken over the Tyrell corporation and the production of replicants, but as it says in the trailer he can only make so many. What if there was another way to make replicants? But he’s a nasty bit of work, quite happy to dispatch a newly created replicant on a whim.

Luv I suppose is the Roy Batty of the piece, a constant presence dogging the heels of K as he looks into the case which seems to be bleeding into his own past.

He recounts a memory from his childhood. Might it be an impant? Later he finds himself in the same place as the memory. Might the memory be real after all? Is it his memory or is it someone else’s?

It was heavily shown in the trailers so It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that K will eventually find Harrison Ford’s Deckard in an abandoned Las Vegas. I’ll mention one scene in particular that impressed me. K finds himself being pursued into an automated show with a holographic Elvis Presley appearing and disappearing, in silence and then momentarily with sound. Other dancers and musicians appear and disappear. It’s an impressively unsettling backdrop to the pursuit.

Gosling is pretty good in this. It’s an understated performance, appropriate for the character he’s playing, but with moments of unrestrained anguish.

The movie is quite simply visually stunning. At times it was almost overwhelming how much detail there is on the screen. There are many moments where I knew I was probably looking at cgi but it was totally photorealistic. For example K follows a lead outside Los Angeles to an area that is basically an endless junkyard that goes on for miles in all directions. There are large segments of ships that have been broken up for scrap and overturned domes which may once have been the dishes of radio telescopes. It is completely convincing.

(One aside. Thanks to the original movie of Blade Runner I became a big fan of Philip K Dicks novels. And I particularly liked the cover art that the British artist Chris Moore produced in the 1990s featuring Blade Runner inspired futuristic cityscapes. At times when watching Bade Runner 2049, especially the Las Vegas segments, it struck me that I could be watching a movie of some of those book covers.)

I’ve also got to mention the sound design. There is an almost constant unsettling hum accompaning the visuals, part music part vibration. Try to see the movie in a cinema with a decent sounds system.

I’m really very glad that the movie turned out not an action movie. Looking at some of the trailers I was a little concerned that this would prove to be Blade Runner, The Action Version. But director Denis Villeneuve has kept things very much in keeping with the tone of the original. It’s a character driven piece.

The movie with credits is an eye watering 163 minutes long. If you chop the credits off it’s still 152 minutes long.

And word this weekend is that the movie is perhaps underperforming. Part of me thinks that was always going to be the case, a sequel to a 35 year old movie that a lot of today’s audience won’t have seen, a long running time, not much in the way of action, or indeed humour. Actually it would be very appropriate that the movie would flop just like it’s progenator and perhaps find an audience in years to come on DVD and blu ray and on a streaming service, just like the original found it’s audience on vhs in the 1980s and 1990s. Time will tell.

But it would be a shame if the movie flopped as so much effort has gone into making it. You’d like to think intelligent and thoughtful movie making would be rewarded. Plus word has it hat Villeneuve was set to make a version of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune next. I’d hope that would not be jeopardised by an underperforming Blade Runner sequel.

In the meantime you probably won’t see as an intelligent movie in the cinemas this year, so go check out out.

Star Trek Discovery episode 3 review

Some thoughts on episode 3 on Star Trek Discovery. Please note that some general spoilers follow.

This is turning out to be a good show. Episode 3 in a way is the first proper episode of the series, picking things up six months on from the Battle at the Binary Stars as seen in episode 2. It now appears that the Federation is in a full state of war with the Klingons.

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Captain Lorca

Michael Burnham is being transported along with some other prisoners on a Starfleet shuttle when it encounters difficulties and is recovered by the shiny new USS Discovery. Ostensibly the Discovery is a science vessel but there’s some very unusual things going on. Some personnel have black badges and there are lots of off limits areas. And what’s with the “black alert”?

Wherever Burnham goes on the ship she gets stared at. For she is the first Starfleet officer to mutiny after all.

On the bridge Burnham is surprised and disconcerted to see my main man Lieutenant Commander Saru, newly promoted to second in command on the Discovery. As expected he gets the best line of the episode, telling Burnham “You were always a good officer. Until you weren’t.”

It appears that Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Issacs) wants to have Burnham on his team rather than rotting in a Federation prison camp. He puts her to work in engineering where we meet Lieutenant Stamets (Anthony Rapp) who is ever so slightly condescending and has a sort of Alan Tudyk thing going on.

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Not Alan Tudyk

We also get to meet another new crew member, Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman) who is the personification of nervous babbling.

Oh and if you recognise the security officer is because it’s Tory from Battlestar Galactica, aka Rekha Sharma. Come on, you remember Tory, one of the final five Cylons? The one who (spoiler) pushed poor Cally out of the airlock?

Then word comes in that the sister ship of the Discovery, the USS Glenn, has been lost with all hands. The experimental work they were doing on the Glenn is related to the Discovery’s mission so the Discovery is dispatched to recover the research.

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This is actually creepy enough without addng JJ Abrams inspired CGI nonsense

On the Glenn the crew have been pretty much turned inside out, but there are Klingon bodies on board as well, the remains of a boarding party that were looking for Starfleet tech. Which produces one of my favourite moments of black humour in this episode where a surviving Klingon steps out of the shadows gingerly and raises a finger to his lips. “Did he just shush me?” Tilly asks before the Klingon gets eaten.

Because there follows a pure JJ Abrams inspired Force Awakens style cgi-alien-chases-crew-down-corridors sequence. Sigh. Fortunately it’s the only misstep.

Returning to the Discovery Burnham accuses Lorca of developing a weapon in breach of the Geneva conventions. Lorca denies this and says it’s a more benign technology that will help win the war. Inevitably he convinces Burnham to stay with the ship. “You helped start a war,” he says. “Don’t you want to help me end it?”

Additionally there are lots of nice little Easter eggs in this episode, my favourite of which was the little translucent yellow data storage device that Stamets hands Burnham, a direct nod to the little yellow squares that Spock would pop into his science station.

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Love my translucent yellow data device

Lorca has a tribble in his office, and indeed has a larger menagerie in another area, perhaps a nod to the original Star Trek pilot which takes place around the same time.

Tory from Battlestar gets to point her classic series phaser frequently.

Oh, and Burnham tells Tilly that her foster mother Amanda read Alice in wonderland to her and her adopted brother (i.e. Spock)

So overall I’m very pleased with where this show is going.

Star Trek Discovery Starships Collection

A little follow up to my review of the first two episodes of discovery. Eaglemoss, who have been doing the Star Trek Starships Collection for a number of years now is doing a special set of Discovery series ship models.

These models will be released one a month instead of one every two weeks. They will be bigger models also with dimensions given of around 20 cm and 25 cm for the first two. The price will increase appropriately from £10.99 an issue to a much more substantial £34.99 (£29.99 for subscribers).

The first two models are announced as the Shenzhou and the Discovery itself.

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After that I should assume we will get at least the USS Europa from episode 2 plus maybe some of the other Federation ships glimpsed. And then there will be two or 3 Klingon variants. Beyond that who knows.

You can find out more on the website.

http://www.eaglemoss.com/en-gb/sci-fi-fantasy/star-trek-discovery/

Issue one will be out in January 2018.

Star Trek Discovery Episodes 1 & 2 review

I’m aware that it’s been ages since my last post on here so I’m trying to rectify that now. I thought I’d write a few words about the new Star Trek Discovery TV show.

I’ve been following production of this show for some time now. If memory serves it had been announced in the later part of 2015 with an on air date of January 2017. Well, January came and went and it’s been a long wait until now.

So a bit of background about the show. Discovery is set in the 2250s, around about a decade before Kirk and Spock’s adventures on the original Enterprise, and actually around about the same time period as that shown in the original pilot The Cage which featured Captain Pike and a younger Spock on the Enterprise.

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Saru, Burnham and Georgiou on the giant bridge of the USS Shenzhou

 

The first two episodes of Discovery set up some of the background of the season’s main story arc. We meet Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green’s first officer Michael Burnham of the USS Shenzhou. They’re doing a bit of exploring at the edge of Federation space and encounter an “object of unknown origin”. This turns out to be a Klingon artefact and soon the Shenzhou is surrounded by Klingon ships. It turns out there’s a Klingon leader who wants to reunite the 24 Klingon houses and the Federation will make a convenient adversary.

Without giving too much away the Federation ships will get a bloody nose and Burnham will also suffer a persona loss. Episode 2 ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger.

In terms of the story there were a few moments, especially in episode 1, where I was raising a metaphorical Vulcan eyebrow quizzically. For example we are informed that the Vulcans eventually established peaceful relations with the Klingons by learning to fire first. Really? I suppose there’s a certain logic to it, but still…

It’s hard to judge the characters too much at this point. Michelle Yeoh does a perfectly good job as Captain Georgiou although I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say I don’t think we will be seeing much more of her in future episodes…

Martin-Green’s Burnham is the main character and makes some surprisingly non-Starfleet decisions. I mean doing a Vulcan neck pinch on members of your crew and trying to mutiny are not in the usual Starfleet playbook. A bit of a non-conformist is Burnham. But she has a very interesting backstory being the survivor of a Klingon attack on a human/Vulcan colony and being raised by none other than Sarek, father of Spock.

The other bridge personnel are not really established. I suppose the reason being that the regular cast members will be the crew of the Discovery and we’ll meet them next week.

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The USS Shenzhou

There is one exception to this and that is the alien science officer Saru played by Doug Jones. I liked Saru very much both in terms of the brilliant make-up plus the engaging performance from Jones. I do hope he’s a regular character in the show.

Design wise I like what I see more or less. The exterior of the Shenzhou is particularly nice. It’s perhaps too sleek a ship for the mid 23rd century but the underslung nacelles put me in mind of the USS Reliant from The Wrath of Khan which is perhaps my favourite Star Trek ship.

Interiors do suffer from Giant Bridge Syndrome. So far we’ve just seen the Shenzhou bridge. I wonder what the Discovery bridge will be like? (Prediction: Probably really big.)

Uniforms are nifty but quite different from the ones we have seen before.

Pleasingly the sound effects have been carried over from the original series so the doors swish and there are the suitable background bridge sounds effects.

One departure is the use of holograms for inter-ship communication rather than view screens as before. But the holograms are done well and interactively so I will forgive this.

I don’t have much of an opinion on the Discovery itself for the very good reason that it hasn’t been in the show yet, other than in the opening credits.

Speaking of the credits I’m not sure yet if they will grow on me. But I do like that they bothered with opening credits in this age of jumping right into a show, plus it’s nice to see the animations of the classic phaser gun and communicators appearing.

No opinion on the theme music yet as it’s a bit vanilla.

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New look Klingon

The Klingons have had a complete redesign in terms of make-up and costume. It’s a brave thing to do and I guess this show is beting made enough years on from the others that they feel they can make a clean break visually. About the only recognisable element left is the use of the Klingon language and interestingly they have the Klingon characters talking in Klingon throughout with subtitles in English. They only speak English when speaking to the captains of Federation ships.

So overall this was good pair of opening episodes. Episode 1 had me a little on the fence but episode 2 really won me over with the depiction of the battle. Plus I liked Georgiou’s method of delivering a surprise to the Klingons.

So overall I liked it and I’ll be tuning in next week.

Or whatever the verb is for selecting a show from the Netflix menu structure…

Alien Covenant review

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Being a big fan of Alien I have been really looking forward to Alien Covenant which I saw on opening night. Here are my initial thoughts. I avoid major spoilers but as always be warned for general plot information.

Just for the record Alien Covenant is a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and a prequel to 1979’s Alien. And apparently we can look forward to at least one or two more entries taking us up to Alien.

The movie opens with a close-up of an eye which immediately put me in mind of a similar shot at the start of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Indeed later on in this movie the android David says a line that reminded me of a line spoken by Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Certainly these Alien prequels deal with much the same themes as Blade Runner did in relation to android intelligence and searching for one’s creator.

(And just in case you didn’t know, there’s a long awaited Blade Runner sequel out later this year…)

Anyway the close-up of the eye is from what turns out to be an intriguing little prelude with the android David (Michael Fassbender) from Prometheus in a white room responding to question from his human creator Charles Weyland (Guy Pearce). Both actors have returned from Prometheus and it strongly implies that David has only just recently been born/activated by his ‘father’ Charles Weyland.

Then the movie proper starts. And we get a lovely moment with the letters of ALIEN COVENANT gradually forming, accompanied by some of Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the original. It’s a lovely call back that put me in the mood. So who cares that it’s taken 38 years for another Ridley Scott Alien movie…

After the title we discover that it’s 2104, ten years on from the events of Prometheus. The colony ship Covenant is on its way to start life on a new world. On board are 2000 colonists and 15 crew members, all in hyper-sleep. Only android Walter is awake, again played by Michael Fassbender. We get a little glimpse of some of Walter’s chores before Something Goes Wrong. Walter orders the crew awoken to deal with the emergency.

While fixing the ship one crew member detects a signal apparently of human origin on a world where no human should be. The crew change course to investigate what is potentially a better location for their colony. A landing party is sent down including the acting captain Oram played by Billy Crudup and Daniels played by Katherine Waterston.

As you would expecting the landing party find they have bitten off more than they can chew when some of their number get infected by… something. This leads to a very tense sequence as they race back to the landing craft and it’s medical facilities.

And Things Go Very Wrong.

Without going into too much more detail we are soon reintroduced to android David, the last survivor of the Prometheus. He takes an immediate interest in the Covenant crew, and in particular his “brother” Walter.

Overall I found the movie suitably thrilling. It’s a big improvement over Prometheus. Prometheus itself I consider a fine movie and I knew there weren’t going to be any Aliens in it. However I was disappointed that it never became the tense space thriller that I thought it was going to be. So the action and suspense of Alien Covenant are very welcome.

It’s not perfect. I have no issues with the early part of the movie featuring the space sequences and up to the landing on the planet and the first crew infections. However to be honest the middle part of the movie did drag a little for me. I think it might have benefited from a little more of a base-under-siege dynamic. Still there are enough creepy goings on with the creatures and questions over David’s honesty to keep the viewer engaged.

(And without going into details there is a revelation in this part of the movie that turns what we thought we knew about the origin of the Aliens upside down…)

Then the movie picks up again as the survivors of the landing party (few as they are) escape from the planet and return to the colony ship in orbit. And you can be sure that something has got onto the ship with them. If anything I’d have liked a few more close calls with the creature on the ship as that sequence worked quite well. It’s during these scenes that Daniels finds her inner Ripley and the audience find themselves on familiar ground, realising they’re watching another Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott.

My only other real criticism is that with something like 15 human crew members it’s hard to get to know any of them in the way we did with the Nostromo crew in the original. The ones that are most memorable are probably Katherine Waterston as Daniels, Danny McBride as Tennessee and Billy Crudup as Oram. And of course Michael Fassbender in two distinct performances as David and Walter.

The movie is gorgeous to look at. One sequence that stood out for me was the Covenant landing craft flying over the planet’s landscape looking for a place to set down. The final action sequence in a cargo bay on the Covenant was also extremely well done.

Plus as mentioned earlier I really appreciated the use of the Jerry Goldsmith Alien theme to tie the movie to its predecessor/successor. I hope they do the same as appropriate in the next movie.

And there surely will be another movie. The ending of this one (which directly links back to the Weyland-David prelude at the start) doesn’t so much leave it open for another but pretty much promises one.

Well, I await it with much anticipation.

Highly recommended.

Life movie review

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Life is a science fiction movie set in the near future on board the International Space Station.

The premise of the movie is that a Mars sample return mission is bringing evidence of Martian life back to Earth. The scientific community cautiously (and as it turns out sensibly) decided not to bring that alien life down to the Earth’s surface where there might be risk of contamination. Instead the samples will be studied in Earth orbit by a team of scientists on the ISS.

The team includes crew members from the USA, UK, Japan and Russia.The actors playing the two American astronauts are the big names on the poster, Ryan Reynolds inevitably playing the wise-cracking American and Jake Gyllenhaal playing the more soulful American who doesn’t want to return to the crowded Earth. I was also glad to see Rebecca Ferguson getting a major part. I became a fan after seeing her in the BBC’s The White Queen some years ago. She was also in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation back in 2015.

The astronauts manage to bring a dormant Martian cell back to life by mimicking the atmosphere of primordial Earth. The cell starts to grow into a creature that can see and make sense of its surroundings. The creature some demonstrates it has intelligence as it tries to escape the confines of its lab box.

After one of their number becomes injured the astronauts realise how dangerous the creature is and they struggle to contain it. Central to this is the notion of “firewalls”, or different levels of containment. As each firewall is breached the threat of the creature making it to Earth becomes more real.

This leads to a series of very tense scenes including one that shows the creature is resilient enough to survive in the vacuum of space. With each encounter the stakes are raised. I found the movie to be thrilling and absorbing in a way that few other recent releases have been.

I also appreciate the attention to detail to make the depiction of space seem authentic. I’m pretty amazed at how the makers managed to simulate the zero gravity environment of the space station for the complete running time of the movie. And as someone with a long time interest in space travel I enjoyed the “nuts and bolts” of the hardware very much.

The ISS does look recognisably like the one currently in orbit although the makers have given themselves artistic licence by having the movie set in the near future where the station has been expanded by the addition of new modules.

When I inevitably get the blu ray of Life it will sit well on the shelf beside Gravity and The Martian which are the other two authentic looking space movies I can think of. And that’s pretty good praise right there.

Logan movie review

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I managed to go and see Logan, the new X-Men/Wolverine movie, this weekend. Here is a quick review with (I hope) no major spoilers.

The movie is set a few years into the future, specifically 2029. But this isn’t a future with flying cars or anything like that. Instead its a very recognisable future much like our own present, the only major difference being the occasional sight of driverless (and cab-less) trucks on the roads.

The reason for the future setting is that things have gone wrong for mutants in general and the X-Men in particular. For whatever reason a frail Professor X is hiding out in Mexico assisted only by albino mutant Caliban (played by an unrecognisable Stephen Merchant) and Wolverine, aka Logan. Logan is a shadow of his former self with beard, a limp and a drinking problem. More seriously his healing factor isn’t working as it used to as he’s gradually being poisoned by his adamantium skeleton.

Soon a mysterious girl called Laura (played excellently by Dafne Keen) enters their world and Logan is forced to go on the run with Professor X in order to protect her. I won’t go into her origins too much except to say comic fans familiar with the character X-23 will know what’s going on.

The movie is a character piece more than any of the others. There is a very somber melancholy tone through the movie because of course the theme of the movie is about growing old and, inevitably, death. To be honest I found it a little upsetting to see Sir Patrick Stewart playing such and old and infirm Charles Xavier. But having said that it was nice to see the good professor get so much screen time along with Hugh Jackman’s Logan.

But along with the character stuff there is a good amount of action. One of the stand out sequences was a desert-based car chase where Logan is trying to escape the bad guys. For just a moment it channeled a Mad Max vibe for me and I can’t think of higher praise than that.

Another sequence that made a big impression on me involved Professor Xavier unleashing a kind of psychic bomb to stop the bad guys. It was an unsettlingly effective sequence as Logan has to effectively fight through invisible barriers to get back to the Professor and Laura. It was probably my favourite sequence from the movie and was very well done.

Be warned this is a very adult X-Men movie. Right from the start there are lots of f-words throughout from both Logan and, surprisingly, Sir Patrick at times. And this is a very, very, very violent movie. Lots of slicing and dicing and decapitations. Seriously, I kid you not.

So in summary the movie is very recommended. Just keep in mind it’s very different from the others in tone. And better not take the kids.

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