Movie: 65 (Million Years Ago)

Credit: Sony Pictures

Adam Driver (from Star Wars fame) is starring in a new movie released this weekend that combines Planet of the Apes with Jurassic Park. Driver plays a space traveler who goes back in time and does not know the “uncharted” planet he landed on until the big-teeth neighbors come around to say “hi.”

Here is the set up from Sony Pictures:

After a catastrophic crash on an unknown planet, pilot Mills (Adam Driver) quickly discovers he’s actually stranded on Earth…65 million years ago. Now, with only one chance at rescue, Mills and the only other survivor, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), must make their way across an unknown terrain riddled with dangerous prehistoric creatures in an epic fight to survive.

You can catch the trailer here as well.

So far, Rotten Tomatoes has give it a critic’s score of 36%. Here are a few of the comments:

  • There’s a reason such films have, in theatrical terms, been pushed to the brink of extinction, and 65 represents such an uninspired effort as to look like a fossil even before the credits roll.
  • Sometimes a short, simple premise with good leads is all you need. 65 is no Jurassic Park but it will entertain and get out before you want it to.
  • It’s not schlocky enough to be so-bad-it’s-good and nowhere near good enough to be taken even a tiny bit seriously.

I thought the movie was expected to be released on March 17th, but instead the movie 65 was in theaters this weekend.

Don’t let the critics deter you. If you are looking for a simple, fun film, I would check it out.

Reason Magazine Discusses the Space Age

The December issue of Reason Magazine has plenty of fun articles on space travel, the ethics of terra-forming, science fiction books and films, and more. The magazine tends to favor privatization of just about everything, so expect some cheering for space billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but overall it is a nice collection of thought-provoking articles.

Here is a sample of the articles:

Movie: Good Night Oppy

Image (Credit): Movie poster for Good Night Oppy. (Amazon Studies)

Here is a new space movie that should keep the crowds happy, and it is based on a true success – our mission to Mars. Good Night Oppy, produced by Amazon Studios, is the story of NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover. You can watch a preview here.

Amazon Studies has this preview:

Good Night Oppy tells the inspirational true story of Opportunity, a rover that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years. The film follows Opportunity’s groundbreaking journey on Mars and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and her humans millions of miles away.

The film, narrated by Angela Bassett, has the same feel as the 1985 film The Dream is Alive, which was narrated by Walter Cronkite and covered the space shuttle missions. While one might claim these are simple feel good movies, I say spread the word about the space missions far and wide. We should be proud of what we have done as well as where we plan to go.

The film will be available in selected theaters today and on Amazon Prime November 23, 2022.

You can learn more about the Opportunity rover here, and its sister rover Spirit here.

Image (Credit): DVD cover of the firm The Dream is Alive. (Threshold Corporation)

Arecibo Observatory Gone Forever

Image (Credit): Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster at the Arecibo Observatory in the movie Contact. (Warner Bros.)

If you were hoping that the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico would have a second life, it may be time to say goodbye. Efforts to rebuild the radio telescope since it collapsed in 2020 have ended. Nature reports that the US National Science Foundation (NSF) has given up on the idea of rebuilding the telescope and instead plans to establish an educational center at the site.

You may have memories from the 1997 film Contact where Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster enjoyed some private time at the Observatory. Her character Dr. Ellie Arroway was working at the Observatory as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence works (SETI) program. In fact, the SETI connection is true. You can see a SETI tribute to the telescope here.

Of course, scientists will remember almost 60 years of work with the radio telescope. While it was initially built for military purposes, it was soon transformed into a scientific site and served as the largest radio telescope on the planet for some time. As far as scientific accomplishments, here are a few of them from the NSF:

  • 1967: Arecibo discovered that the rotation rate of Mercury is 59 days, not the previously estimated 88 days.
  • 1981: Arecibo produced the first radar maps of the surface of Venus.
  • 1992: Arecibo discovered the first ever exoplanet: In subsequent observations, an entire planetary system was found around the pulsar PSR 1257+12.
  • 2008: Astronomers use Arecibo to detect for the first time, methanimine and hydrogen cyanide molecules — two organic molecules that are key ingredients in forming amino acids — in a galaxy 250 million light-years away.

So many new telescopes have come online in the past 60 years that some will say we will be fine with an educational center. This is true, but it is also worth remembering each of the telescopes along the way that helped us to understand this awesome universe of ours.

Image (Credit): The damaged Arecibo Observatory reflector dish after suffering damage from a broken cable. (University of Central Florida)

Pic of the Week: Captain Picard in California

Image (Credit): Star Trek panel at the San Diego Comic Con in July 2022. (Films that Rock)

This week’s image shows Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) and Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) discussing Star Trek at the 2022 Comic Con in San Diego, CA. You can watch the full panel discussion here. You can also watch the season three (and final season) trailer for Star Trek: Picard here, indicating our favorites from The Next Generation will be returning one more time.