Back to the Future day DeLorean musings

Today is of course Back to the Future day, the day that Marty McFly traveled to in 2015. And it got me thinking about the DeLorean and how it was in multiple places at the same time in the movies.

Specifically it is in four places at once on the day of the Fish under the Sea dance, 12 November 1955.

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1 – The original Delorean from 1985 arrived back in 1955 with Marty McFly making his first visit. Marty initially hid it at the entrance to Lyon Estates which was under construction. Later Doc Brown recovered it and stored it in his workshop for a week until the night of the Fish Under the Sea Dance.

2 – A ‘borrowed’ Delorean from 2015 arrived in the afternoon of 12 November 1955 so Old Biff could give the Almanac to Young Biff on the day of the Fish Under the Sea Dance. The Location where he parked it is unknown.

3 – Doc and Marty traveled back from Bad 1985 to 12 November 1955 in order to stop Biff using the Almanac and changing the future. They hid the car at the entrance to Lyon Estates.

4 – While all this is going on the broken DeLorean that took Doc back to the Old West was stored in a disused mine for 70 years from 1885 to 1955, so it’s still there while the events of BTTF2 are unfolding.

So in summary there’s a DeLorean in Doc’s workshop, one in a disused mine, one at the entrance to Lyon Estates and another one unaccounted for.

The same car in four places, all at the same time.

Great Scott!

At least I’m thinking fourth-dimensionally.

The Martian movie review

Please note there are spoilers contained in the following.

I’ve seen Ridley Scott’s new movie The Martian and here is my review.

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I suppose I should preface this review by stating that this is exactly the kind of movie that appeals to me as it’s a very “nuts and bolts” depiction of near-future space travel that for the most part obeys the laws of physics.

This movie is based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir which is an entertaining page-turning thriller about how a lone astronaut could survive on Mars by using his knowledge of botany and chemistry and whatever resources were available.

The movie of course stars Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars after the Ares III mission is aborted. His five colleagues leave him behind believing him dead. When he recovers consciousness he discovers he’s has been abandoned and he has no way to communicate with Earth. As with the book he inventories his food supplies and starts to grow potatoes to have enough food to last the four years it could take to get a rescue mission to him.

Of course as the story progresses various problems are thrown an him, some of which are immediately life-threatening, and he has to deal with each of the problems as he goes.

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The movie is largely faithful to the book with most of the main plot developments included. Some sequences were excised to keep the running time to two hours, for example some incidents in Watney’s journey across Mars were dropped from the book.

The movie does not stick with Matt Damon through the whole running time. It splits it’s time between Watney on Mars, the five other Ares crew members on the spacecraft Hermes returning to Earth – initially unaware that their fellow crew-member is still alive – and the NASA people back at Mission Control on Earth.

Obviously of the cast Matt Damon has the largest chunk of screen time. He has to make his video diary entries an engaging way for the audience to see how he is solving the problems. As with the book the character uses his sense of humour to survive. However Damon does get to do what I call “The Acting” at versions points such as when he re-establishes communication with Earth and when he finally makes it to the craft that could get him off Mars.

Out of the Hermes crew I would single out Jessica Chastain’s mission commander Lewis. I’ve been a fan of hers for the last few years and she shines here with a prominent role feeling guilt for leaving one of her crew behind and a determination to rescue him. Incidentally she was in Christopher Nolan’s science fiction movie Interstellar which also featured Matt Damon, although If I recall correctly they didn’t share any screen time.

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Out of the NASA staff back on earth I want to mention a rumpled-looking Sean Bean in a supporting role as the Flight Director. It’s always nice to see Sean Bean in big Hollywood movies and sticking with his own northern English accent.

By the way there is a Lord of the Rings joke in the movie and it was only the next day that I realised that Bean, one of the Fellowship, was in that scene.

A recurring joke in the book concerns Watney being forced to use the entertainment files of his fellow astronauts. Lewis it turns out is a fan of the 1970s and has episodes of tv shows like Happy Days and lots of disco-era music. The movie takes this detail a humorous step further by having suitable disco-era music played as the movie’s sound track at suitable moments.

The depiction of Mars is pretty stunning. There a a few moments of Watney alone in the Martian landscape that are memorable. Also some of the aerial shots of his rover trips are glorious. Arguably the landscape of towering cliffs is not accurate to where NASA would send a mission but I guess it makes things more visually interesting than the flat floor of a crater.

I found the final act of the movie to be the most exciting. Much of it deals with the Hermes spacecraft approaching Mars to intercept Watney’s capsule. This section of the movie takes account of how real spacecraft would actually be manoeuvring and the audience gets a glimpse of how orbital mechanics would be used to adjust intercept speeds and distances. It’s done in an exciting way as the clock is ticking and each thing the crew does to get closer to Watney produces another problem that they must solve with their limited fuel. Finally we get a spacewalk sequence (not from the book) that must have been influenced by the movie Gravity but is no less exciting for it.

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(The Martian continues the trend of recent science fiction movies that include a large dose of science fact. Gravity arguably isn’t science fiction at all and interstellar has a very fact based look at space travel.)

As much as I like Ridley Scott’s movies across all genres after seeing The Martian I can’t help but wish he had done nothing but science-fiction since Alien and Blade Runner. At least he’s rectifying things with this movie and the upcoming Alien prequel.

For the time being this is probably the best Ridley Scott space-based science-fiction movie since Alien. (Well ok, his only other space-based science-fiction movie between Alien and The Martian is Prometheus so there’s not a lot of competition.)

But it’s also one of Ridley Scott’s best movies of any genre. And it’s one of my favourite movies of the year. I look forward to buying it on Blu Ray.

Recommended.

Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre

Corgi have been making James Bond diecast model cars for fifty years starting with the famous Aston Martin DB5 with the gadgets from Goldfinger.

(Of course Corgi like to keep reminding us that they have been making those models for 50 years. And they keep re-releasing the DB5 repeatedly.)

The latest James Bond movie Spectre opens at the end of October and Corgi have produced a model of the new Aston Martin DB10 that appears in the movie. Here’s the first glimpse of the Corgi model in an advert that appeared in Empire magazine.

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The advert is actually for a Scalextric set and they have stuck a photo of the Corgi model at the bottom of the page.

No word yet on the inclusion of any potential gadgets but I wouldn’t expect any.

UPDATE 13 October 2015…

A Hornby webpage shows a rendering of the Aston Martin DB10 model and states it is to be released in January 2016.

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Source:

hornby.hornbynews.com

(Looks like information for trade customers I think.)

Another update 21 October 2015

The model is listed on the following website for PREORDER. The expected release date is January 2016 and the price is £19.99.

http://www.jadlamracingmodels.com/p-16798-corgi-cc08001-james-bond-007-spectre-aston-martin-db10.aspx

Please note that is a PREORDER! At the time of writing the model is not available yet.

I’d better repeat that, just in case.

THE MODEL IS NOT AVAILABLE YET!

Update 22 December 2015

The new DB10 is now available to order from the Corgi website.

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Star Wars Rogue One begins production

So apparently somewhere in England right now Felicity Jones is dressing up in Star Wars Rebel outfits and is fighting Imperial troops.

Because Star Wars Rogue One has started production.

And here’s the proof:

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Which is all very odd for me. I’ve liked Felicity Jones for ages. I remember her being all adorable in ITV’s Northanger Abbey back in 2007.

And now she’s leading a team of Rebels to steal the Death Star plans. Because that’s what Rogue One is about. It’s a “proper” prequel to the original Star Wars, by which I mean is not a load of twaddle about trade treaties and comedy Gungans.

No, it’s a prequel as in what happened off screen just before the first Star Wars movie. A team of Rebels stealing the Death Star Plans! Lead by Felicity Jones! And apparently is more of a gritty war movie set in the Star Wars universe.

And go back and look at that photo again. Doesn’t it look like they are in the Rebel Base on Yavin IV?

You know, I might be more excited about Rogue One than I am about The Force Awakens.

Anyway, here’s the official Disney/Lucasfilm press guff saying who else is in it:

http://www.starwars.com/news/rogue-one-the-daring-mission-has-begun-cast-and-crew-announced

Rogue One is scheduled for release on 16 December 2016. Which seems ages away, but it will come around soon enough.

James Bond Spectre Full Trailer Musings

This morning the first full trailer for the new James Bond movie Spectre arrived. Here are some of my first random musings.

Assume that spoilers follow.

Oh, before I start, I’ve read comments from folk online saying the trailer spoils the movie. Actually I think the opposite. It doesn’t tell us much more than we already knew from the previous teaser trailers.

Anyway…

The trailer starts with a grumpy M telling off Bond for going rogue in Mexico City. First of all I’m starting to loose count of the times Bond has gone rogue. I’m pretty sure that means he’s gone rogue in all four Daniel Craig movies plus Die Another Day and Licence to kill. Never mind.

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To the best of my knowledge the Mexico City scenes will form the pre-credits sequence so it’s interesting that Bond has his own agenda that early in the movie. Also in the trailer there appears to be a spectacular helicopter-set action scene over Mexico City.

Elsewhere we see Q present Bond with his new Aston Martin in a tastefully designed shot.

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And we get a little glimpse of a spectacular looking car chase alongside the river Tiber in Rome. I had read that the state of Rome’s roads meant they couldn’t drive very fast while shooting the movie. Well, it sure looks fast to me.

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In another shot we can see a memorial wall (presumably for other agents?) in what looks to be a ruined building. Someone has added Bond’s name in a very taunting Joker style.

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There are a few more moments with Mr White from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Now here is a spoiler so beware. I read in the official plot blurb released today that Lea Seydoux’s character is playing Mr White’s daughter. We see shots of a spectacicular looking plane/car chase with Bond trying to rescue her from some bad guys, presumably from Spectre. Apparently Lea has information about Spectre that Bond needs.

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Wow. Love that shot above.

Plus. Lea Seydoux. Gosh. She is rather attractive…

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Plus more vehicular mayhem as Bond’s plane looses its wings.

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Plus more Lea looking stunning.

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There’s also more more shots of Bond infiltrating the mysterious meeting that we saw in the teaser trailers. This time we get an added moment where Christoph Waltz’s character looks up at Bond, well aware of his presence.

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Officaly Waltz is playing a character called Oberhauser but everyone on the planet is assuming that he is Blofeld. Certainly he must be the villain, right?

Oh look. Nehru jacket.

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Now that’s all well and good, but what screen grabs of the trailer can’t show is the surprise inclusion of John Barry’s sublime theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The first time I watched the trailer I noticed the music but did not realise where it was from. Then it hit me. They’ve only gone and included one of the best pieces of James Bond music ever. I really hope that theme finds its way into the final movie. It certainly turns the trailer into something even more epic that it otherwise would have been.

Spectre arrives in the UK on 26 October 2015.

James Bond 007 Blu Ray Steelbooks

Today on Zavvi I spotted a banner advertising seven new James Bond Blu Ray Steelbooks. Apparently these will be a limited edition of 2000 each and will be released on 14 September.

I quickly realised that they had a “gimmick” of being based on the opening credits at the moment when the title of the movie is on screen.

The seven titles chosen are From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only and Casino Royale.

It took me a moment to work out why those seven titles were chosen. Then I realised that they are all movies that featured Spectre in some shape or form. Well, if you ignore Dr No and include Casino Royale instead.

Here are images of the seven covers…

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after doing a bit of searching online I discovered that there are actually nine blu Rays in the series, at least in the USA and Germany. They also get Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

The UK is not getting those two, apparently because they have had steelbook releases in the UK already.

(I know Skyfall had an Amazon exclusive steelbook but I can’t think of a steelbook release for Quantum of Solace.)

Anyway, here are the other two movies from Germany.

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Pity. I’d be interested in those.

Overall I think it’s an interesting look for the covers. Personally I’d prefer versions of the movie poster art although I do like the simplicity of the From Russia With Love cover and the Casino Royale one really appeals to me.

Ex Machina out on Blu Ray and DVD

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A few months back I saw Ex Machina when it was on cinema release and I found it to be an intelligent exploration of AI. I was particularly impressed by Alicia Vikander’s portrayal of Ava as well as the concept design of the robot. (You can read my original review of the movie here.)

The movie has now been released from today on Blu Ray and DVD in the UK. The cover art for both versions are displayed below.

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Nice to see the use of variations of the poster design on the sleeves.

I’ve bought my copy today and I’m looking forward to watching the movie again soon.

Mad Max Fury Road review

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During the last week I went to see the new Mad Max movie in the cinema. I’m going to try to express my thoughts on the subject.

First of all I have to say I’m not all that familiar with the Mad Max franchise. Oh, I know the general outline of the movies. There’s the Low Budget One, the Tanker Truck Chase in the Desert One and the Tina Turner One. I’ve certainly seen good chunks of each of the Mel Gibson movies and I seem to recall watching all of the Tina Turner One many years ago. But the point is I could not be described as an avid fan.

But the buzz about the new movie, directed by the original Mad Max creator George Miller, certainly got me interested. Could it possibly be as good as the reviews were describing it?

Well, yes it is. If not better. It’s the most fun I’ve had in the cinema in many years. If not decades. If not ever.

A quick word on the plot setup. There are some mild spoilers but this all takes place in the first few minutes of the movie…

The movie depicts that bleak, desperate post-apocalyptic future set some years after a nuclear disaster. The movie begins with Max, now played by Tom Hardy, alone in the desert next to his trusty Interceptor vehicle. He is soon chased by some foes and after crashing is taken back to their lair.

It turns out they are the minions of the grotesque and repulsive Immortan Joe who has set himself up as a god in control of the water and “mother’s milk” in his part of the Wastelands. Poor old Max is soon relegated to donating blood to Joe’s War Boys.

But Joe is on the receiving end of a nasty surprise when he discovers his most trusted Imperator Furiosa has absconded with his five “wives”, the beautiful women he keeps for himself in order to breed an heir. Soon all his War Boys are sent in pursuit with Max along for the ride.

And what a ride it is.

A word on Charlize Theron who plays Furiosa. She is in many ways the actual star of the movie. She certainly appeared to have more dialog than the almost monosyllabic Max. This is Charlize Theron like you have never seen her before with a Alien 3 style Ripley buzz cut, black war paint and mechanical arm. We don’t get much back story about her but have to fill in the blanks for ourselves. She is seeking redemption for something by trying to get the wives away from Joe to the “green place” that she remembers from childhood.

Max and Furiosa are locked together in this movie. Initially mistrustful, then grudgingly dependant and then finally the respect between them builds. And it’s nice to see each character on their arc.

(One could get metaphorical about the journey that the characters are on both literally and mentally, on the journey through the desert to the green place.)

I mentioned Max is almost monosyllabic. Actually as I think about it his character goes from essentially wordless, to monosyllabic to eventually more expressive. I guess he’s been too long alone in the desert and gradually is waking up and rediscovering his humanity as he spends time in the company of the other characters. His initial encounter with Furiosa and the wives is essentially speechless as he gestures for his War Boy chains to be cut.

Ah yes the War Boys. The principle War Boy we meet is Nux played by Nicholas Hoult. He wants nothing more than to serve the Immortan Joe and if necessary go to Valhalla in the process. His make up is quite something with the bald head and the scarred lips. But Hoult plays him almost like a naive puppy dog that eventually has his eyes opened to the world outside Immortan Joe’s control.

So there are a number of character arcs. But the backdrop to the character development is action. Lots and lots and lots of action. I’ve never seen so much action in one movie. The chase after Furiosa starts near the beginning of the movie and it pretty much doesn’t let up.

(I’ve seen the movie described as a two hour chase sequence. This is not exactly right as its is a two hour movie split into two separate chase sequences.)

Max and the others spend most of their time on their war rig constantly accosted by every type of land vehicle you can think of. Spiky cars, motor bikes, monster trucks, you name it. Every now and then an action beat is punctuated by another car flipping or getting crushed like it’s made of cardboard. And all this against the spectacular backdrop of the Namibian desert.

Watching the action sequences I was kind of in awe. It all looked real. Oh, I’m sure there was a lot of green screen work and digital tidying up, but the actual stunts looked like real people were flipping real cars. How would you even begin to think about organising all those stunts to fill a two hour movie… I don’t know, but George Miller sure did.

And all the action takes place with the same musical descending note motif hammering out like the heart beat of the war rig. You don’t so much watch the movie as experience it.

If you are in any way curious about the movie do try to see it in the cinema. I’m not sure how it’s going to compare watching it at home.

2015 is not yet half way over, and Star Wars and James Bond are both due at the end of the year. But I honestly can’t imagine that any other movie this year is going to top Mad Max Fury Road for sheer spectacle and enjoyment.

Avengers Age of Ultron review

The following review should contain no significant spoilers. Anything I mention has probably already been seen in one of the trailers. But be warned just in case.

So, how can it be three years since the first Avengers movie was in the cinemas? How can three years have gone by so quickly? Well, they have and Avengers Age of Ultron is now out and Marvel Phase 2 is complete.

The movie starts right in the middle of an Avengers mission in the best tradition of those James Bond pre-credits scenes. Here the team is attacking a Hydra base and it ties very nicely in with the end credits scene of Captain America The Winter Soldier. That scene gave us the first glimpse of Wanda and Pietro, aka “the Twins”, better known to comic fans as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Here they are augmented humans doing the bidding of Hydra for personal reasons that will become clear later on. (And it’s a nice bit of background when you find out what it is.)

Scarlet Witch can mess with your mind and do various telekinetic stuff. She’s pretty handy in a fight actually. And Quicksilver can run really fast. A lot like that guy introduced in the last X-Men movie… Hmmmm…

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Back in New York Tony Stark gets an insight into how to create an artificial intelligence that could keep the world safe and render the Avengers obsolete. Predictably this doesn’t quite go to plan and the megalomaniac robot Ultron is born. He’s not quite one to follow orders and he heads off to make an Ultron army and is no doubt planning world domination.

Cue lots of busy fighting.

One of the central pieces of busy fighting is the clash between an enraged Hulk (who is under the influence of Scarlet Witch’s mojo whammy) and a supercharged Iron Man in Hulkbuster armour. As expected it’s quite a city-flattening clash. It’s perhaps not quite up there with the final Superman vs Zod battle in Man of Steel but Iron Man and Hulk do manage to cause a considerable bit of destruction. If I have a criticism here it is that there is almost too much going on.

In the second act of the movie we get an extended sequence of introspective moments where the individual members of the team have to question their place in the world and their ability to fight Ultron. This is as fun as it sounds.

I think Hawkeye comes out out of the movie the best. He certainly gets the most rounded character moments and we do discover something surprising about him. He also gets some of the best lines and gives a neat little speech to Scarlet Witch during the movies extended climax.

I was glad to see the Black Widow’s past get explored a little bit. We get glimpses of her training as an adolescent in the KGB Red Room where the Black Widow assassins are made. Personally I think that background would provide very rich pickings for a Black Widow movie where she has to delve back and investigate a link to her dark past as done in some of the more recent comics.

There is a subplot where we discover Black Widow fancies Bruce Banner. And along the way Scarlett Johansson gets to do The Acting when she reveals something to Bruce.

There a nice bit of business early on with Thor’s hammer as seen in an early trailer where other Avengers folk try to lift it. This actually pays off with a scene towards the end of the movie.

There were a number of surprise cameos which was nice. I won’t give away the actors involved but they will be familiar to anyone familiar with the other movies in the series. One of whom I am always glad to see.

I was wondering who Andy Serkis would play. Well, I don’t know if he is a character from the comics but he was little more than a cameo himself.

If I have a fault with the movie it’s the whole creation of Ultron and his motivation. Things just seem to happen so the team has someone to fight. Ultron is born. He goes bad. That’s kind of it. He’s well portrayed with a dark sense of humour and there’s an added gimmick that he can apparently inhabit any one of his sub-bodies. I do have to give Ultron credit for his evil plan. It’s a bit OTT but it’s something I’ve never seen on screen before.

Along the way we also get the birth of the Vision, a sort of organic computer man. This was always the most “out there” of the Avengers comic book characters and while I’m glad to see him finally on the team I can’t help wondering if they should have stuck with the more “realistic” team members. (Yes, I am clearly defining “realistic” to include an Asgardian thunder god, a man in a flying suit of armour and a giant green rage monster.)

At the end of the movie we are apparently introduced to a new roster of Avengers which is in keeping with the ever-changing membership of the team in the comics. However I doubt very much that we’ve seen the last of the original six members.

Overall I enjoyed the movie very much. The two-hour-plus running time flies in. There are lots of little moments that I enjoyed. On balance I think I prefer the first Avengers movie slightly more, but that’s just as a personal preference.

For anyone keeping track my favourite of the Marvel Universe movies remains last year’s Captain America The Winter Solder as I loved the 1970s Washington DC political conspiracy thriller vibe they had going on.

James Bond Spectre Teaser Trailer

This trailer turned up on 007.com on Friday 27 March 2015. And it’s a stunning piece of work.

I love it. There’s no action. It’s all about the dialogue and mood, yet it results in something very suspenseful.

It’s wonderful to see and hear (a rather disheveled looking) Jesper Christensen return as Mister White from Casino Royale, who one assumes will impart some information about Spectre to Bond.

“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mister Bond” he says. Wonderful dialog.

I’m excited about this movie.

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