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.

Passengers on the “Uncrewed” Orion

Image (Credit): Orion Lego passengers. (NASA)

Much has been discussed about the test dummies used on the Orion capsule during the recent Artemis I mission. And stories abound about the snoopy doll (show below) being the “zero-gravity” indicator on the Orion. But have you heard about the four Danish passengers on the capsule?

The Danish company Lego had four toy astronauts on the Orion capsule as well – Kate, Kyle, Julia, and Sebastian. It’s part of an educational series for children. NASA and Lego have been educational partners for a while now.

Are these the first toys in Space? Absolutely not. For instance, space shuttle astronauts have brought a teddy bear and Star Wars light saber into into orbit, among other things. And last year a SpaceX capsule sent to the International Space Station contained a stuffed penguin, which was also used as a “zeroed-gravity” indicator.

I support any endeavors to excite children about the space program. Soon enough we will see what else the Artemis program might have in store for children as well as the kids at heart.

Image (Credit): Snoopy doll floating on the Orion (color adjusted to highlight Snoopy). (NASA)

Television: Andor – Finally a Star Wars Story for Adults

Image (Credit): Scene with Diego Luna from Star Wars: Andor. (Lucasfilm)

I am 10 episodes into Disney+’s Star Wars: Andor series and I love it. I am impressed that Disney+ finally dug a little deeper into the Star Wars material to find a new perspective, for now we get to see the Imperial bureaucracy in action.

This is the first of the four new live action Star Wars series that does not lean on the stars from the earlier movies – no Baby Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Tusken Raiders, or Jabba the Hutt. Instead, you get an original story, similar to how the Star Wars movie Rouge One took its own path.

Of course, the series has Storm Troopers, but they are there to lock down the period rather than becoming comic relief by allowing our “heroes” to blast away 50 of them at a time while coming away unharmed. Instead, the new series slowly kills off some of the heroes to demonstrate the true stakes involved.

The acting and dialogue is also much improved from earlier Star Wars iterations. Thankfully, Disney kept away from horrible Lucas-talk, never assuming that laser fights would cover over weak dialogue and a flimsy plot. Even the business side of Star Wars here is so much more interesting than the trade federation blather from The Phantom Menace. In Andor, the trade and smuggling is an important and believable thread carefully wound into the overall story.

But best of all, Andor gives us an inside look at Imperial operations. Your massive, mind-numbing bureaucracy here represents a form of slavery within the machine doing the oppressing. The back-biting among the off-white-clad officers of the Imperial Security Bureau is fun to behold, even without a Darth Vader ending each meeting with someone being choked to death.

The Imperial “justice” system is another fascinating story line, showing how the Empire’s reaction to terrorist attacks leads to gang-pressing innocent citizens. It’s a perfect merging of Putin and a Tesla factory. All the while, political intrigue continues in the Senate and family dynamics are used as a poisonous glue.

This is not to say the series lacks action scenes. If you are looking for shootouts and space battles, they are in the story. But they assist the plot rather than being the main plot. Andor is about the people (software) behind the Empire more than the hardware.

I am not saying all of the spin-off series need to follow the Andor model. I’m just glad an Andor exists at all. It’s about time the adults had something to watch that meshes more with their reality – less flash, more angst. You can put Baby Yoda to bed with the kids and stay up late with Andor.

I look forward to watching the remaining two episodes of this season as well as the next and final season. I also ask Disney to keep the adults in mind as it develops more Star Wars programs. You have an eager fan base.

Image (Credit): Scene with Denise Gough from Star Wars: Andor. (Lucasfilm)

Gift Ideas: Lego Lunar Research Base

Image (Credit): Lego Lunar Research Base playset. (Lego)

While we await the Artemis III crew landing on the Moon and related lunar base, you might want to create your own mission with the Lego Lunar Research Base (shown above), which has “NASA-inspired” details. The playset has almost 800 Lego pieces, so you can build it yourself (to NASA specs, of course).

The playset comes with a “… lunar lander, VIPER rover and a domed accommodation module with laboratories, garage and air lock, plus 6 astronaut minifigures. I’m assuming the rocket that gets the astronaut minifigures to the Moon is sold separately.

And below is the Lego International Space Station is you are looking for something more traditional (and less expensive).

It’s great to see that Lego is allowing kids to build their own space missions at home.

Image (Credit): Lego International Space Station playset. (Lego)

Some of you may have played with Star Wars and Star Trek sets as kids, but at least these latest Lego set have a ring of credibility. Star Wars helped you destroy the galaxy, whereas Star Trek seemed more interest in exploration and at least had the veneer of Artemis CXXV.

I checked on whether Chinese and Russian kids with have their own space playsets and found the Russian Roscosmos Soyuz MS spacecraft (still a concept) and China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (made by a Lego copycat), both shown below.

Image (Credit): Lego version of the Russian Roscosmos Soyuz MS spacecraft. (Lego Ideas)
Image (Credit): Sembo Blocks version of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. (

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center playset comes with a Long March 2F rocket and an authentic warning sign stating, “Those stealing secrets will be caught, once they’re caught they will be killed [decapitated].”

Maybe even reality is not always the best model for play.

Extra: You can find more Lego space models at the NASA gift shop.