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.

Television: The Mandalorian Returns for a Third Season

Image (Credit): Poster for season three of The Mandalorian. (Disney)

On March 1, season three of Disney’s The Mandalorian premiered. It was action-packed throughout. We had plenty of time with the main Mandalorian, Din Djar, as well as his sidekick, Baby Yoda, now known as Grogu. But if you were somewhat confused to see the two together again after the ending of season two, you are not alone. Unfortunately, Disney tried to keep another Star Wars series, The Book of Boba Fett, relevant by throwing in a few episodes with Din Djar and Grogu. I do not like these types of crossovers, and I expect others feel the same.

In those crossover episodes we learn that Din Djar needed to make amends for taking off his helmet for Grogu, and Grogu decided to abandon Luke Skywalker for his Mandalorian friend. These are key points that should have stayed within the series rather than sprinkled into other series.

But back to season three and some spoilers from the first episode, so beware. I guess I was caught up in the slow, meticulous storytelling in Andor, so the attack on the Mandalorian ceremony in the first scene rattled me awake. I asked myself, why would a diminished race of Mandalorians hold a ceremony in such a dangerous spot? Were death wishes part of the ceremony as well?

And it did not get much better from there. We then find Din Djar going back to Nevarro to reclaim an earlier killer robot for his next mission. Yet the killer robot almost killed Grogu again? Is it really that hard to find a good droid that you have to pull down a town statue and play with pieces?

But wait, there’s more. It turns out that the killer robot needs a particular part, so Din Djar shoots off with Grogu to find the piece. Yet that is not what he ultimately does (after fighting pirates, of course). Instead, he spends time with whining, helmet-less Mandalorian discussing bathing spots on Mandalore.

I think you get the point. I see a lot of action with this reunited pair but not a lot of consistency in purpose or basic logic to their approach. Again, maybe Andor took me away from the Wild West for a time and I need to get back into the spirit of things again.

So I look forward to episode two this week to see whether or not the series can find its footing again. The first two seasons had a particular magic that I hope to see again.

Update: The second episode for this season was much better than episode one and more focused. Plus, it is always fun to spend time with Amy Sedaris playing Peli Motto. Moreover, we may have a new R2D2.

Television: Hello Tomorrow! Arrives This Week

Credit: Apple TV+

Would you buy a lunar timeshare from Billy Crudup? Be careful how you answer. Or would you simply watch a show about Billy Crudup trying to sell lunar timeshares? I think you can answer yes to that with little risk of disappointment.

While Elon Musk is trying to sell us on Mars, I like how the focus of Hello Tomorrow! is closer to home. It is Artemis III meets Century21. The 10-episode series starts this Friday (February 17). Check out this trailer for more on what awaits you.

The Earth shown in the new series is already pretty different than what we have today with its floating cars and jet packs, so why not shoot for the Moon? For some reason, it appears it will not be that easy, but that is part of the drama. At least they will have their floating cars whatever else happens. We are still figuring out electric cars.

I was disappointed with SyFy’s The Ark, which seems to be a comedy masquerading as a tragedy wrapped in a farce. I am hoping Hello Tomorrow! is a somewhat more straightforward – just pure fun.

Final Update to my Top Astronomy Stories in 2022

Image (Credit): Singing in the “Domino” episode on The Orville: New Horizons. (Hulu)

I cannot let January end without making one update to my “Top Astronomy Stories in 2022” list. I really need to add Hulu’s The Orville: New Horizons as number 11 on the list. The third season has been much more polished and enjoyable than the first two. After jumping to Hulu and renaming itself, the show has really found its way to being a great addition to the scifi universe.

The last two episodes in particular – “Domino” and “Future Unknown” – were the best of the season. We go through war, sacrifice, death, reconciliation, and even marriage with a crew that is now part of our family. I am still not sure what I think about the role of Dolly Parton in the series, but the Orville’s crew singing in episode 9 (“Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall” by Simon & Garfunkel) and episode 10 (“Secret o’ Life” by James Taylor) are reason enough to watch these last two episodes.

So what happens next? Do we see a fourth season? It is unclear, even to creator and actor Seth MacFarlane, who had this to say about the future of the series to Den of Geeks:

If we’re lucky, The Orville reaches a stage where we do multiple uninterrupted seasons, and we can end the season knowing that we’re moving into the next. But this was designed to be a wrap up for the season – a bit of an open-ended piece of narrative that allows the various characters any possible number of futures. At the same time, we wanted to tie things up in a nice little bow as much as we could in case we didn’t get picked up.

I hope we can see a fourth season, but as they said in the very title of the last episode – Future Unknown.

Television: SyFy’s New Series The Ark

Credit: SyFy

If you are looking for a new space series beyond the Star Trek and Star Wars iterations, then SyFy’s The Ark may be for you. Premiering February 1st, it has all of the necessary elements: a long space mission, something going wrong, everyone’s fate hanging in the balance, and a heroic effort saving the day. I hope I did not give anything away.

Here is the full story from SyFy:

The Ark takes place 100 years in the future when planetary colonization missions have begun as a necessity to help secure the survival of the human race. The first of these missions on a spacecraft known as Ark One encounters a catastrophic event causing massive destruction and loss of life. With more than a year left to go before reaching their target planet, a lack of life-sustaining supplies and loss of leadership, the remaining crew must become the best versions of themselves to stay on course and survive.

And don’t miss the trailer, which clearly points out that the ship is off course and the captain is dead. The last space series I watched with with this set up was HBO Max’s Avenue 5, but those passengers were only traveling around the solar system. Here the stakes are more like those in Kim Stanley Robinson’s scifi novel Aurora, which involves a multi generation trip to a distant planet. I recommend both the HBO series and novel, but I will need to wait on the roll-out of The Ark to say more about this new series.

I am looking for my next Expanse series, so I will watch The Ark and hope for the best.

Update: My hopes were dashed. The pilot was so bad that I watched the second episode just to be sure. That episode was bad as well. You cannot look at the crew of the Ark and think this is the best hope for humanity. Throughout both episodes all you had was yelling and dysfunctional behavior. Clearly there was no vetting for this crew. If this is the way we ran out submarine fleet then I would expect every sub to be on the bottom of the sea (about three days after launch). The show even has a turtle-necked founder of the Ark mission chatting away as a hologram. I thought we saw this in the movie Don’t Look Up and basically every other movie after that when you need a stand-in villain. I might have continued if SyFy simply billed the TV show as a comedy, yet even that would have problems since no one on the show can act. Oh well, I will await the next series and hope again. I am not giving up.

Credit: Orbit