July 3rd, 2014


HBO 23 -- Minority Report -- Mission To Mars

Twenty-third session: Minority Report (conclusion)
Agatha, one of the precogs, has spent years floating in a tank of water. Much like Neo in The Matrix, who had never used his muscles, Agatha does a terrific job of walking unsteadily and writhing around when confronted with Crow's impending murder. But realistically, she shouldn't have been able to do that much. I could hardly sit up last summer after eight weeks on my back.

One of the things to like about this movie are the shifting perspectives. Characters change in your mind between being good and bad, so things are not as they seem. Particularly pleased with what they did with the agent from Justice. And I like the complications of the woman who helped invent precrime and her zoo of nasty plants ordered from the Harry Potter catalog.

I have always loved the very end, where the three former precogs are far from anywhere in a cabin stuffed to the gills with books. It is possible -- even probable given Hollywood's science literacy -- to really like an SF movie without believing its premise. Or its tech. Though the latter is assisted by having the tech not work right all the time -- cereal boxes that don't turn off when you shake them. (grin)

Mission To Mars
This movie and Red Planet both came out in 2000, trying to convince us that going to Mars wasn't interesting enough without aliens. Mission To Mars has the better underlying bones to the space program, but they fail in several critical areas of design implementation.

The destruction of the ship and bailing to the resupply REMO module, the dynamics are all wrong. And wouldn't you brake into a Mars orbit? So the engines are facing the wrong way. And if you are that close to burning up, your altitude is way too low.

Hint: Don't try to be a hero, go find your spare helmet when the situation calls for it. Odd to watch decompression going on whilst inside a compression tank.

Just had the reunion in the greenhouse -- a very The Martian moment. Weir's book is way better, on how one man in a spacesuit can survive alone on Mars. Space Cowboys next? Don't want to spread Braveheart over the three-day weekend.


Wednesday I had PT before HBO -- 11:30 with Craig, my usual therapist. First time since before WisCon, so had some updating. Ran through the history for the student shadowing Craig
-- and also the director of physical therapy who wanted by -- she was impressed by the range of Spectrum's PT offerings I've had, in hospital, at home, outpatient.

Smoother sailing home on Wednesday than Tuesday.

Dr. Phil

HBO 24 -- Mission To Mars -- Space Cowboys

Twenty-fourth session: Mission To Mars (conclusion)
So... Luke is alive. Not enough satellites in Mars orbit to look for details. Interesting that today we can spot rovers and rover tracks on Mars from orbit. Hell, twice we've seen live descents of probes. In some ways our future is more advanced.

Now we're deep in the rabbit hole of the alien artifact. As long as it was mysterious, it wasn't bad. But once we see the aliens' holo show, it gets rather weepy and schmaltzy. Plus I bet Sinise feels like an idiot when his feet are locked onto that circle and he ends up in a tube filling with fluid -- and he left his spacesuit gloves and helmet thirty feet away. Thank goodness the aliens -- or the scriptwriter -- saw The Abyss and it's a breathable fluid, presumably to provide for high acceleration protection.

And the former Martians left for another galaxy? Which our astronauts can see as a spiral galaxy with the naked eye? And what's with the wispy, swirly, low speed exhaust trails? And anyway, they kill 3 of 4 astronauts on the first mission and we're all friends now? Ri-iiight.

Eventually it all gets to be a bit much, despite such a promising start.

Space Cowboys
Like The Matrix last weekend, Space Cowboys was on TV late last night. Normally I'd sit and watch a bit, but part of the whole HBO movie watch project is to be able to see whole films. Because catching random movies in progress -- the newspaper's TV guide ends at midnight most days -- means I rarely see the beginnings of films, typically the first 20-30 minutes, plus editing.

The opening introduces our characters in 1958 -- younger actors with their voices dubbed. Also in black & white, since color life hadn't been invented yet. Still, it's cute and all very The Right Stuff.

Getting Team Daedelus back together is amusing. My favorite part is literally watching Donald Sutherland on his first roller coaster ride -- he thought it a rehearsal, but Eastwood had his camera running and didn't need another take.

Space Cowboys is mostly real NASA, as opposed to the speculative space program of Mission To Mars. Up to a point. The plot, of course, is ludicrous. And I'm not even talking about the geezers-in-space. A Skylab class communications satellite put up by the old Soviet Union and in geosynchronous orbit for forty years that no one knows about and is now falling? How much fuel was put up there forty years ago, because you can't easily service a satellite some 25,000 miles out? Remember, none of our manned Earth orbital capability works up there -- the large Hubble Space Telescope is not, nor does it need to be, in geosynch orbit. For that matter, I echo the flight director -- how the hell did you guys get it up there in the first place?

Of course shooting sets are a breeze when you can borrow NASA's actual training facilities.

But we don't watch Space Cowboys for the science or the space mission... it's the stellar cast and banter between Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and especially the amazingly smooth Donald Sutherland.

We are up to the heartbreaking scene with Hawk and his old SR-71. No dive on Friday the Fourth of July, so pick this up on Monday, then probably Braveheart.


Easy drive in today. US-131 north jammed on the way home -- electronic sign warns it is jammed to Post Drive, something like 7 miles and 17 minutes ahead. But I cut across four lanes and eventually the Left Exit lanes to I-96 are free up to 70mph, though I take the farthest left lane in case some wiseass decides to hop the line on US-131 north. I see it happen twice, but way ahead.

Pretty day. 72°F, mostly all blue sky. Hell, we had to out the heat pump on this morning, with the low overnight in the 50s.

And... I'm finally caught up on HBO reports. (grin)

Dr. Phil