Posts Tagged ‘sci-fi’

Book Review – Michael Crichton’s “Timeline”

Around a month ago I finished reading Timeline, a thrilling time-travel adventure story written by Michael Crichton.

This was my second time reading this book as I once read it about ten years ago.  I remembered it being interesting, but forgetting the details about how things worked in the story.  After reading it again, I can certainly say that, along with Jurassic ParkTimeline might be one of Crichton’s *best* stories.

Michael Crichton — Timeline

Set in modern time (1999), Timeline begins with a couple traveling through the Southwest and discovering a man wandering around in a desert.  There’s no explanation for him being there, and he’s dressed in Medieval clothes.  The man is rambling and obviously injured, so the couple drives him to a nearby clinic.  Unfortunately, he soon coughs up blood, goes into cardiac arrest, and then dies.  What’s even more puzzling to the doctors is that the x-ray and CT scan show that basically all of the man’s organs, bones and blood vessels are slightly offset within his body.

It’s soon revealed that the man is an engineer for ITC, a high-tech company located in an isolated part of New Mexico.  To make matters more interesting, the man had a diagram for an ancient French monastery that was destroyed hundreds of years ago.

Over in Dordogne, France, American professor Edward Johnson is leading a small team of archaeologists and historians in an excavation of two towns separated by a river — Castelgard and La Roque.  The area being studied was known for being a battleground between English and French forces. Read more…


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 23, 2017 at 9:22 am

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Book Review – Stephen Baxter’s “Ark”

Recently I finished reading Ark, an interesting science-fiction / space travel book written by Stephen Baxter.  The book is a direct sequel to Flood.

In Flood, readers were introduced to a frightening vision of a near-future scenario where vast underground chambers of water stored in the Earth’s mantle were released, unleashing an unending surge of water that, over the course of many years, flooded the entire planet.  As the waters continued to rise, countries were destroyed and people were forced to keep moving to higher ground and fighting to survive.

At one point in Flood, some of the characters witness a rocket launching into the sky, carrying what’s rumored to be the fate of humanity in search of a new home.  That’s what brings us here today.

Stephen Baxter — Ark

Ark begins with rising flood waters and a partially flooded planet.  There’s no end to the flooding in sight, and scientists are tasked with finding a way to ensure that at least part of Earth’s humanity will survive, should there be a worst-case scenario of the planet being completely submerged.

Ships and rafts are easy solutions, but maintaining them (and their occupants) years later could be a challenge.  It’s not a permanent answer to humanity’s survival.

In Ark, it’s decided that humanity will have to find a new home in outer space.  The only catch is that the closest planet that might be able to sustain human life is several light years away, a distance far too great for today’s conventional rockets.

Regardless, plans begin immediately for a rocket, an ark, to carry a small part of humanity off this planet and to a new home somewhere in the stars.  Children of the scientists and engineers are selected to become part of a rigorous training program to prepare them for their destiny in space.  These children are known as Candidates. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

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Mandela Effect – False Memory or Shift in the Multiverse?

Have you ever come to realize that something you’ve always believed to have been true is actually false, like a verse in a song or the spelling of a name or product?

There’s a popular theory going around the Internet that when these realizations happen, it’s not because your memory is off, but that it’s the universe instead.  Every once in a while there are these shifts in the universe where alternate versions are split apart or combined with one another, creating these situations where people seem to have incorrect memories of past events.

The Mandela Effect is the term given to this alleged shifting and realigning of the universe, or rather, this plane of existence in the universe.  The multiverse theory argues that there are an infinite number of universes out there, all stacked next to each other.  Each time a decision is made, then a new universe is created for the opposite side of the decision.  This pattern goes on infinitely until the end of time.

What the Mandela Effect argues is that every once in a while these universes merge with each other, and people who may have been living in one universe are suddenly living in an alternate universe, a nearly identical universe where everything is almost exactly the same except for a minor detail that gives away the shift.  Nobody can feel the shift, nor does anybody know exactly when it takes place.  All people can do is take a look at their current world and see if anything is “off” or just not right according to their memory.

Nelson Mandela

The Mandela Effect is named after Nelson Mandela, a member of the African National Congress who was arrested for being a terrorist back in 1962, he was released from prison in 1990, and then he became president of South Africa in 1994.

According to some people, it was impossible for Nelson Mandela to have become president as they are positive that they remember seeing news stories about how Mandela actually died in prison.  How can somebody who had allegedly died later become the president of a country?

Enter the Mandela Effect. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 4, 2017 at 9:20 am

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What would you do if an Asteroid was about to hit Earth?

Recently there have been some conspiracy theory news stories about how asteroid 2016 WF9 (or possibly a comet, astrologists are still trying to determine exactly *what* is flying through the solar system right now) may strike the Earth sometime in the next few weeks.

Asteroid 2016 WF9 on February 25, 2017.

Thankfully, an Earth impact will not happen (this time) as the asteroid’s orbit is only going to bring it to around 32 million miles from the Earth on February 25, 2017.  A distance of 32 million miles is nothing to worry about.  That’s roughly the same distance as the Earth to Mars when the two planets are at their closest (a term known as “opposition”).

But what about 2016 WF9’s return visit in 4.9 Earth years?  What about the asteroid’s orbit after that?  How about its path after that?  And after that?

It stands to reason that if 2016 WF9’s orbit remains perfectly stable and consistent, then at some point in the future it’ll have an extremely close call or possibly impact with Earth, causing catastrophic damage.  It’s just a question of when such an event occurs.

The million dollar question is, What would you do if you knew that an asteroid was going to strike the Earth in a couple of weeks? Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - January 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

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Movie Review – Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Imagine if medical science advanced to the point where surgeons could operate on a person from *inside* of their body.

That’s basically the premise behind 1966’s hit science-fiction film, Fantastic Voyage.

In Fantastic Voyage, a team of surgeons is miniaturized inside of a special submersible that is sent inside of a scientist’s body.  It’s a race against time to not only battle the hostile environment of the human body, but to also reach the critical injury and repair it, all while racing a clock as well as dealing with somebody sabotaging the mission.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - movie poster

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – movie poster

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Fantastic Voyage stars Stephen Boyd as Charles GrantSupporting him in the film are Raquel Welch as Cora Peterson and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Michaels.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage begins with scientist Dr. Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) fleeing from the Soviets and eventually reaching the United States.  However, just after he arrives in the U.S, Benes’s car is attacked by assassins, and Benes is critically injured.  He quickly develops a dangerous blood clot inside of his brain, and the condition will kill him if it’s left untreated.  The only problem is that the type of surgery required to remove the clot is incredibly dangerous. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

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Movie Review – Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)

In honor of tomorrow night’s premier of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on Syfy, today we’re taking a look at the second film in the series, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Back in 2013, the made for television film Sharknado created a media frenzy with its completely ridiculous plot of deadly tornadoes filled with killer sharks.  The film was aired for three nights in a row on the SyFy Channel, with each night having a larger number of viewers.  This was a film that was so bad and corny that you just had to watch it not just once but several times.

So what do you do when a low-budget film is a hit?

You make a sequel!  You strike quickly while the iron is hot!

Sharknado 2: The Second One premiered on July 30, 2014 on the SyFy Channel.  The sequel returned some of the original cast and transferred the action from Los Angeles to New York City.  Another superstorm filled with sharks strikes, and it’s up to a small group of people to figure out a way to stop the deadly storm and save an entire city.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - movie poster

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – movie poster

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, Sharknado 2: The Second One returns Ian Ziering and Tara Reid in the lead roles of Finley Shepard and April Wexler.  Supporting them is Vivica A. Fox as Skye, Fin’s childhood friend, Judd Hirsch as Ben, a taxi driver, and about a dozen cameos featuring a variety of celebrities.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One begins with Finley “Fin” Shepard (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife, April Wexler (Tara Reid) flying to New York City to visit some old friends as well as promote April’s book covering the events from last year’s sharknado in Los Angeles.  A flight attendant (Kelly Osbourne) is a fan of April’s and gladly accepts an invitation to join her at an event in New York City.

When the airliner begins its approach into New York City, the plane flies right through a strong storm filled with airborne sharks.  The sharks repeatedly attack the airliner and break into the aircraft, killing the pilot (Robert Hayes) and co-pilot (Rachel True).  The flight attendant is also killed by a shark along with a passenger (Wil Wheaton).

Fin makes his way to the cockpit and takes control of the doomed airliner.  While he’s trying to bring it down for a landing, one of the aircraft’s doors is ripped open and April is nearly sucked out into the storm.  She uses an air marshal’s (Austin Priester) pistol to shoot at a flying shark, but the shark reaches her and bites off half of her arm.  Somehow Fin is able to land the damaged airliner at the airport (nowhere was it mentioned in Sharknado of Fin having *any* flying experience), saving the lives of the remaining passengers.  April is then whisked away to a hospital to be treated for her amputated arm. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 21, 2015 at 3:35 pm

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Movie Review – Terminator Genisys (2015)

Released to theaters this weekend is Terminator Genisys, the latest film in the Terminator franchise and (hopefully) the beginning of a new Terminator series of films.

Terminator Genisys returns to the origins of the Terminator story, but it’s not what you’re expecting.  This isn’t simply a reboot of the original film.  Instead, Terminator Genisys pays homage to the original film while also offering people a new story as part of an alternative timeline.

Terminator Genisys (2015) - movie poster

Terminator Genisys (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Alan Taylor, Terminator Genisys returns Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the T-800 (Model 101) / Guardian.  Co-starring in the film are Jason Clarke as John Connor, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese.  Also in the film are J.K. Simmons as Detective O’Brien and Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson.

Terminator Genisys begins with a voiceover of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) explaining how life has changed drastically since Judgment Day, the moment when the machines declared war against humanity and launched a surprise nuclear attack, wiping out most of humanity.  The survivors were forced to band together and fight for their lives.  The leader of the Resistance is a soldier named John Connor (Jason Clarke).

In the year 2029, John Connor leads the Resistance in a final assault in the Los Angeles offensive.  The attack, coordinated with an attack in the Colorado offensive, is aimed at striking at Skynet‘s secret new weapon, a weapon that could change the outcome of the war.  Hidden underneath a remote storage facility is Skynet’s ultimate weapon — a time machine.

The final attacks are launched against Skynet.  The Colorado offensive is successful at stopping Skynet’s main defense grid, but Connor’s Los Angeles offensive is unable to stop Skynet before it sends a lone T-800 cyborg back in time to 1984 to kill John Connor’s mother.  If the cyborg is successful in its mission then Sarah Connor will die and John Connor, the leader of the Resistance, will never be born.

In order to stop the cyborg and save the future, then somebody from the Resistance will have to travel back in time to save Sarah Connor.  Several soldiers volunteer for the dangerous mission, and John Connor selects Kyle Reese.  The Resistance gets the time machine operating and they send Reese back in time.  Just before he travels through time, Reese notices one of the soldiers (a Terminator in disguise) grabbing and attacking John Connor.  Reese then travels through time and has flashbacks to an alternative version of his younger self. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 1, 2015 at 10:38 pm

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Movie Review – Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Back in 1968, the film Planet of the Apes introduced people to a concept of a world where apes rule society and human beings are feral creatures.

Planet of the Apes followed along as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) was forced to deal with being on a strange and hostile planet.  He was ultimately successful in proving to the apes that human beings are smarter and more resourceful than the apes gave them credit.  Planet of the Apes had a shock ending where Taylor discovered that he was really on planet Earth the whole time.  At some point in the past humanity destroyed itself in warfare, and apes evolved to become the dominant species on the planet.

We know that there’s more to the story of what really happened on planet Earth.  We know that there must be more human artifacts out there.  And we know that there’s more to be discovered.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released two years later in 1970.

In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a second spacecraft (one that was sent to search for Taylor’s spacecraft) travels through a time warp and crash lands on the same planet that’s now ruled by apes.  Astronaut Brent meets Nova, he is shocked to witness the ape’s society, and he ultimately discovers a hidden underground city inhabited with mutant human beings, descendants from the war that destroyed humanity.  It’s a race against time as an army of apes advances and aims to crush the underground city once and for all.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - movie poster

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – movie poster

Directed by Ted Post, Beneath the Planet of the Apes stars James Franciscus as Brent, an astronaut who accidentally travels through time while he’s sent on a mission to rescue George Taylor.  Charlton Heston reprises his role of George Taylor, and so does Linda Harrison as Nova, Kim Hunter as Zira, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius.  This time around David Watson plays the role of Cornelius.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes begins at the ending of Planet of the ApesGeorge Taylor (Charlton Heston) and Nova (Linda Harrison) find the remains of the Statue of Liberty, and Taylor realizes that he’s been on Earth the whole time, just several thousand years into the future.  Humanity is virtually extinct and apes are in control of society.  Depressed, he and Nova ride on horseback further into the Forbidden Zone, hoping to find other signs of life.

A short while later, Taylor and Nova discover a wall of flames that appears and just as quickly disappears.  This is followed by a few quick bolts of lightning.  Taylor suspects that there’s more to the story of these phenomena, so he grabs a rifle and takes a closer look.  Just as it looks like Taylor discovers the secret behind the apparitions, he suddenly disappears into a rocky wall.  Nova is terrified by the sight, and she flees on Taylor’s horse. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 30, 2015 at 11:27 pm

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Movie Review – Planet of the Apes (1968)

Imagine suddenly being placed in a world where things were the opposite, where human beings were running wild and apes were in control of society.

That’s the premise for 1968’s hit science-fiction film, Planet of the Apes.

In Planet of the Apes, George Taylor and two other astronauts crash land on an alien planet where human beings are wild with no permanent homes, no form of communication, and no real society.  They live in packs and stay on the run from the apes, advanced creatures that can speak, they have clothing and weapons, and they have a functioning society complete with their own city.  When Taylor is captured by the apes, the apes are shocked to see that he’s very different from the other human beings.  Some apes believe that Taylor is a missing link that explains their society, while other apes believe that Taylor is a mutation that must be destroyed.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - movie poster

Planet of the Apes (1968) – movie poster

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Planet of the Apes stars Hollywood legend Charlton Heston in the lead role of astronaut George Taylor.  Co-starring in the film are Roddy McDowall as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, and Linda Harrison as Nova, one of the human beings.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes (1968) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes begins out in space as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) readies their spaceship for their trip back home to Earth.  Joining him are astronauts Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton), as well as a female astronaut already asleep and in stasis.  Although there’s no mention of the spaceship’s name in the 1968 version of the film, a 2008 Blu-ray edition of the film includes a short film where it’s mentioned that the ship is called Liberty 1.

Liberty 1‘s mission left Earth in 1972, and it travelled faster-than-light through a wormhole to distant galaxies.  As a result, while the mission itself has only lasted for six months, it’s theorized that 700 years have passed back on Earth.

Taylor is the last astronaut still awake before going into stasis.  He records his thoughts into the ship’s recorder before climbing into his sleep chamber and entering a form of hibernation.  The Liberty 1 continues on autopilot and continues its journey back to Earth. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

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Movie Review – Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Back in 1975, the movie Jaws proved that not only are sharks fearsome creatures, but they can also prove to be formidable monsters in Hollywood.

Jaws was so successful that not only did it spawn its own series of films, but for the most part, Hollywood didn’t use sharks as villains.  Other sea creatures have attempted to terrify the audiences, but sharks were overlooked.  It was almost like nobody wanted to make a shark movie because everybody would keep comparing it to 1975’s Jaws.

That notion changed with the release of 1999’s killer shark movie, Deep Blue Sea.  In Deep Blue Sea, research scientists increase the size of sharks’ brains in an effort to study diseases.  However, this increase in brainpower makes the sharks smarter, and they use their sharpened thinking skills to attack the researchers.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - movie poster

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – movie poster

Directed by Renny Harlin, Deep Blue Sea stars Thomas Jane and Saffron Burrows in the lead roles of Carter Blake and Dr. Susan McAlester.  Supporting them is a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgard, and LL Cool J.

Deep Blue Sea begins with four teenagers having fun on a boat while out at sea.  Suddenly the boat is attacked by a shark, and the teenagers are knocked into the water.  Just before the shark can attack and kill them, the predator fish is captured by a mysterious man.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - (c) Warner Bros.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – (c) Warner Bros.

In Los Angeles, California, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is called to an emergency meeting at Chimera.  The company’s leaders are upset that one of Susan’s test sharks had escaped from the research facility and attacked a small group of teenagers.  None of them were killed or seriously injured, but the incident is still bad news for the company.

It turns out that Susan is using three genetically modified mako sharks in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  These three sharks have larger brains (the brain fluid is used in the research) than their counterparts in the wild, and it’s made these particular sharks smarter and more aggressive.  The recently escaped and recaptured shark is a sign that perhaps the researchers don’t have everything under control at their research station. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

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Movie Review – Jurassic World (2015)

Released to the theaters this weekend is Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Back in 1993, Jurassic Park ruled the theaters with its story involving a high-tech theme park filled with dinosaurs brought back to life through advanced technology.  This was followed by The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, and then Jurassic Park III in 2001.

And now, after waiting fourteen years, the next Jurassic Park film has finally been released.

Enter Jurassic World.

Jurassic World (2015) - movie poster

Jurassic World (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio, Jurassic World goes back to the franchise’s roots and returns us to the original ideas set in Jurassic Park.  A new team has taken over John Hammond’s operations and the theme park (now named Jurassic World) is open to the public.  New dinosaur attractions have been added over the years, and now it’s time to open another one.  The latest creation, a hybrid dinosaur named Indominus rex, is guaranteed to terrify the visitors and boost the audiences at the theme park.  Of course, you know what happens next . . .

Jurassic World begins with two brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) at their home.  Although Gary is still young, he has a keen interest in dinosaurs and science.  His older brother Zach is more interested in girls, and he’s practically counting down the days until he can move out of his parents’ house and live on his own.  Their parents need some time alone to sort out their own problems, so they send the boys on a vacation to Jurassic World.  The boys’ Aunt Claire happens to work at the dinosaur theme park, and she’s going to look after them and give them a personal tour of the place.

Zach and Gray catch an international flight to Costa Rica, and then they board a high-speed ferry with other guests bound for Isla Nublar, a.k.a. Jurassic World.  After that they board a monorail that takes them through the famous Jurassic Park gate and ultimately to the visitors’ complex.  While Gray is excited to see the dinosaurs, Zach is more interested in looking at the young ladies. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 13, 2015 at 7:23 pm

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Book Review – Larry Niven’s “Lucifer’s Hammer”

Today I finished reading Larry Nivven‘s post-apocalyptic novel, Lucifer’s Hammer.

Co-written by Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer is a haunting tale of survival after the Earth is hit by a comet.  Billions of people are killed instantly, and the survivors are forced to fight for their own survival in ways that they never imagined.

Larry Niven --- Lucifer's Hammer

Larry Niven — Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer’s Hammer begins with the discovery of the Hamner-Brown Comet, named after an amateur astronomer and a kid who was using a telescope and looking at the right place at the right time.  The comet is approaching the inner part of our solar system.  According to astronomers, the Hamner-Brown Comet is going to pass by the inner planets, swing around the sun, and head back out into space.  The odds of the comet striking the Earth are so small that it’s not even worth mentioning.

Life continues as the comet continues on its path.  But when scientists continue to monitor it, and when a TV documentary gives it more attention, people can’t help but wonder just how close the comet will be when it passes the Earth a second time when heading back out into space.  It’s not going to hit, right?

As the days pass, more and more people believe that the comet is really going to impact the Earth and wipe out everybody, just as an asteroid ended up killing off the dinosaurs.  Some people see this as a sign from above.  Others begin to stockpile supplies to help ride out whatever happens.  A smaller percentage think that since everybody is going to be killed, then nothing at this point matters, and it’s okay to commit crimes.  And still other people believe that nothing will happen and that everybody else is crazy.  Those people cannot wait for the comet to pass so that life will get back to normal again. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm

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Movie Review – Waterworld (1995)

Continuing with the theme of a flooded Earth (like in the book Flood and the movie The Day After Tomorrow), today we’re taking a look at the 1995 post-apocalyptic science-fiction film Waterworld.

Set several hundred years in the future, Waterworld takes place on a version of planet Earth that is almost entirely covered by water.  It’s mentioned that the polar ice caps have melted and flooded the planet, creating one massive ocean.  The people simply call the world Waterworld, and everybody uses boats and lives on large crescent-shaped barges called atolls.  The plot of the movie focuses on a mysterious sailer called “The Mariner,” and a strange map on the back of a young child.  It’s believed that the map leads to a place called Dryland, and people will kill for that information.

Waterworld (1995) - movie poster

Waterworld (1995) – movie poster

Directed by Kevin Reynolds, Waterworld stars Kevin Costner as The Mariner.  Dennis Hopper plays the role of The Deacon, the leader of the villains.  Supporting them are Jeanne Tripplehorn as Helen, and Tina Majorino as Enola, the young girl with a precious map on her back.

Waterworld (1995) - (c) Universal Pictures

Waterworld (1995) – (c) Universal Pictures

Waterworld begins with a brief animation of planet Earth and how the polar ice caps melted and flooded most of the surface of the planet.  We then meet a drifter called the Mariner (Kevin Costner) as he’s alone while sailing his boat, a trimaran.  After meeting another sailor in the open water, the two of them are ambushed by “Smokers,” a.k.a. pirates.  The Mariner uses the sails on his trimaran and makes a clean getaway while the other sailor is caught by the Smokers and brutally killed. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

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Movie Review – The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

What if the world was to suddenly have a radical climate shift, one that would wreck havoc on life as we know it?

On top of that, what if this climate change was something that we could have prevented?

That’s basically the premise for The Day After Tomorrow, a 2004 science-fiction doomsday film.  In The Day After Tomorrow we see what planet Earth could be like should there be a sudden and radical shift in the climate, a shift caused by man-made global warming.  Coastal areas are flooded by a sudden rise in sea level, ocean currents are disrupted, and ferocious weather systems blast frigid weather across North America, creating a new Ice Age.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) - movie poster

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – movie poster

Directed by Roland Emmerich, The Day After Tomorrow stars Dennis Quaid as paleoclimatologist Jack Hall.  Co-starring in the film is Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Sam Hall, Jack’s son.  Other actors in the movie include Ian Holm as Professor Terry Rapson, Kenneth Welsh as Vice President Raymond Becker, and Emmy Rossum as Laura Chapman.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) - (c) 20th Century Fox

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – (c) 20th Century Fox

The Day After Tomorrow begins in Antarctica as paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) and his team are drilling for ice-core samples on the Larsen Ice Shelf.  Suddenly there’s a fracture in the ice that crates a deep crevice.  Hall’s team barely escapes falling to their doom.

Later, at a United Nations conference in New Delhi, India, Jack presents his findings on global warming and how it’s significantly worse than anybody had expected.  Unfortunately, his research fails to convince the diplomats or Vice President Raymond Becker (Kenneth Welsh).  They’re set on maintaining their current ways when it comes to using fossil fuels and the Earth’s natural resources as they see fit, rather than considering its effects on the environment. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

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Book Review – Stephen Baxter’s “Flood”

What if one day the Earth’s oceans all began to rise?

Not because of man-made global warming or climate change melting the polar ice caps, but from an entirely different source, something completely out of our hands.

What if this rise in ocean level continued over the years, slowly flooding the planet and making high ground the most precious type of land?

What would you do?  How would you survive?  Could you find a way to keep living knowing that unless the flooding stops, eventually every piece of land will eventually disappear under the water?

That’s basically the premise for Stephen Baxter‘s Flood, a 2008 science-fiction novel dealing with the slow flooding of planet Earth.  As the sea level continues to rise and flood the continents, humanity struggles to find a way to survive.  The balance of power shifts as people fight for high ground and deal with the reality of their situation.  Billions of people eventually die over the years as the sea level continues to rise, dry land slowly vanishes, food becomes more scarce, wars are waged between organizations and countries, and survivors are forced to build ships and rafts as a final way to survive . . . for at least a little while longer.

Stephen Baxter --- Flood

Stephen Baxter — Flood

Flood begins in 2016 as a small group of people are being held hostage in Europe by an organization of extremists.  The hostages are former US Air Force helicopter pilot Lily Brooke, British military officer Piers Michaelmas, English tourist Helen Gray, and NASA scientist Gary Boyle.  All of them were in Europe at one point or another when they were each captured and taken hostage.  The experience was particularly tough on Helen Gray as she was the youngest female in the group and had gained unwanted attention from the guards.  She was abused and eventually gave birth to a daughter, Grace, by one of the guards.

After being held hostage for five years and eventually transported to Barcelona, Spain the group is suddenly liberated by a private megacorporation called AxysCorp.  A fifth hostage, John Foreshaw, was executed by the terrorists moments before the rest of them were rescued.

Immediately after being rescued, the gang notices that their world is a little bit different than when they last saw it.  Now England and the rest of Europe are plagued by a nearly endless number of rainy days which have been sparking localized flooding.  When Lily reconnects with her sister Amanda, and her two children Benji and Kristie, she learns that the sea level itself has actually risen about a meter.  It may not seem like much, but low-lying areas are being threatened by the rise and a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean has been reclaimed by the sea.  Naturally, the constant rainfall and the slow rise in sea level is being blamed on man-made global warming. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

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Movie Review – When Worlds Collide (1951)

Try to imagine, just for a moment, that a star is racing across the galaxy and heading straight for Earth.

You only have eight months until the star arrives and destroys the planet.  If any part of humanity is to survive, then it’s going to require building rockets and trying to find a new home somewhere in space.

That’s basically the premise for When Worlds Collide, a classic 1950s science-fiction film depicting the end of the Earth and the struggle to try to save a small group of humans, plants and animals.  As the engineers build a rocket, they have to compete against not only the imminent destruction of Earth, but the catastrophic disasters caused by the arrival of the star as well as the anarchy and breakdown of civilization.

When Worlds Collide (1951) - movie poster

When Worlds Collide (1951) – movie poster

Directed by Rudolph Mate and produced by George Pal, When Worlds Collide stars Richard Derr as David Randall, a pilot caught in the middle of the chaos.  Co-starring in the film are Larry Keating as Dr. Cole Hendron, Barbara Rush as Joyce Hendron, the professor’s daughter, John Hoyt as Sydney Stanton, and Peter Hansen as Dr. Tony Drake, a physician in love with Joyce.

When Worlds Collide (1951) - (c) Paramount Pictures

When Worlds Collide (1951) – (c) Paramount Pictures

When Worlds Collide begins in South Africa as pilot David Randall (Richard Derr) arrives at an observatory.  Astronomer Dr. Emery Bronson (Hayden Rorke) has made a horrifying discovery, something that he simply doesn’t want to believe.  Dr. Bronson assigns Randall the task of carrying the information to Dr. Cole Hendron, his colleague and fellow astronomer living in the United States.  Randall doesn’t care about the task or the secret information, just how much he’s going to be paid to be a courier.  When talking about Randall’s pay for the task, Dr. Bronson hints that money really isn’t a concern any longer.

A briefcase containing the information is secured to Randall’s wrist, and he’s off on a series of connecting flights from South Africa to the United States.  A reporter has gotten word of Randall carrying secret information, and he tries several times to bribe Randall so that he can learn the information.  Randall refuses and he faithfully keeps the information locked in the briefcase. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm

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Movie Review – Interstellar (2014)

Imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where mankind itself was faced with its own extinction.

We’re not talking about a killer asteroid, a global nuclear holocaust, or a massive attack by extraterrestrial aliens, but from a different threat instead.  In this case it’s a world where a giant dust storm is threatening to destroy the last of the farmland, eliminating a major source of food for the human race.  On top of that, other plants are also dying, and the oxygen in the atmosphere is going to be depleted.

In order for humans to survive, they’re going to have to find a new home in outer space.  Of course, none of the planets in our solar system are capable of handling human civilization.  In order to survive, mankind is going to have to reach new worlds in distant galaxies.

That’s the premise for Interstellar, a science-fiction adventure film created by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan.  In Interstellar, a small team of astronaut explorers uses a wormhole to reach another galaxy and determine if any of the planets are suitable for human life.  It’s a race against time as the astronauts make the incredible journey and try to find a new home for humanity.  While they’re away on their mission, scientists back on Earth try to research a way to transport the masses off the dying planet and into outer space.

Interstellar (2014) - movie poster

Interstellar (2014) – movie poster

Directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, and with music by Hans Zimmer, Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, a former NASA pilot and a widowed father of two children.  Supporting him are Anne Hathaway as astronaut / scientist Amelia Brand, Michael Caine as Professor Brand, Amelia’s father, Casey Affleck as Tom, Cooper’s grown son, John Lithgow as Donald, Cooper’s father-in-law, and Matt Damon as astronaut / scientist Dr. Mann.

Interstellar (2014) - (c) Paramount Pictures

Interstellar (2014) – (c) Paramount Pictures

Interstellar begins on Earth in the near future.  The planet is dying.  Crops have slowly been failing, reducing the diversity of crops available for human consumption, and dust storms continue to plague the farmland.  It’s implied that the Earth’s population has been greatly reduced as part of the aftermath involving a world war, but those details aren’t discussed.  What we do know is that the future is looking extremely bleak for humanity as a whole.

One such farmer is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA test pilot and engineer.  At night he’s haunted by nightmares of a failed test flight.  Living with him on the farm are his two children, teenager Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and 10-year-old daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), better known as “Murph“.  Although Cooper’s wife has died, his father-in-law, Donald (John Lithgow), lives with the family and helps keep an eye on the kids.  Donald also watches over Cooper’s farm vehicles, most of which have been enhanced through Cooper’s engineering skills. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm

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Movie Review – Alien vs. Predator (2004)

It can be argued that the Alien creatures from the Alien films, and the Predator hunter/ warriors from the Predator films are not only the most horrific, but also the most fierce and lethal creatures in the world of science fiction.

But which creature is the best in the galaxy?

That’s a question that sci-fi fans have been debating since the late 1980s and the emergence of the Aliens Versus Predator comic books.  In 1986 the movie Aliens showed us how a squad of Colonial Marines and all of their firepower was wiped out by a nest of Aliens and the Queen Alien.  In 1987 the movie Predator showed us how an intergalactic Predator easily killed most of a group of commandos.  But what would happen if a Predator or a small team of Predators took on a group of Aliens?  Who would emerge as the victor?

The 2004 film Alien vs. Predator attempted to answer that question.  In Alien vs. Predator, a small group of humans are used as pawns so that the Predators can fight the Aliens in an ancient ritual as a rite of passage.  The only catch is that if the Predators lose, then *everybody* will lose.

Alien vs. Predator (2004) - movie poster

Alien vs. Predator (2004) – movie poster

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Alien vs. Predator stars Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods and Lance Henriksen as Charles Bishop Weyland.  For the rest of the cast, you might recognize a face or two, but it’s doubtful.  Virtually all of the secondary characters are nobodies in Hollywood.  But that’s not necessarily a negative on the film itself.

Alien vs. Predator (2004) - 20th Century Fox

Alien vs. Predator (2004) – 20th Century Fox

Alien vs. Predator begins on October 10, 1904, at a whaling station in Antarctica.  We see as one of the workers runs in terror and tries to hide in a building.  He thinks that he’s safe until a Predator extends its razor claws and approaches.  Just as the Predator is about to kill the man, suddenly an Alien jumps out and attacks the Predator.

Fast forward to today (2004).

When the low Earth orbit Weyland Corporation Satellite PS12 passes over Antarctica and detects an unknown heat bloom on an island just off the coast of Antarctica.  The information is passed through Weyland Corporation and the company’s founder and CEO, Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), organizes a team of people to investigate it.  He uses his extensive reach (and funds) to recruit a team of specialists including an experienced ice explorer named Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), an Italian archaeologist named Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova), and Dr. Graeme Miller (Ewen Bremner), a chemical engineer. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - September 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm

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Movie Review – Aliens (1986)

“This Time It’s War”

Back in 1979, the sci-fi / horror movie Alien gave audiences a new perspective on how a terrifying film should look.  Alien was dark, it was terrifying, it had an impressive spaceship, it had a great cast, and it was just an all-around outstanding sci-fi movie.  On top of that it had one creepy monster that was also a killing machine.

At the end of Alien we knew that Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) survived after she set the self-destruct mechanism on the Nostromo and then escaped in the ship’s escape pod.  She then blew the Alien out the airlock and roasted it in one of the ship’s engines.  Last we saw, Ripley was settled into the escape pod’s hypersleep chamber and cruising towards an unknown destination.

But what happened after that?  What if there were more Alien creatures out there?  What would happen if advanced soldiers were to face off against the Alien monsters?

Aliens (1986) - movie poster

Aliens (1986) – movie poster

Those questions and more were answered in the 1986 film Aliens, the first sequel to Alien.  In Aliens, we learn that planet LV-426 has now been settled by colonists, and apparently things have been going well.  That is, until one day when the colonists stop transmitting messages back to Earth.  A squad of marines are sent to investigate what happened to the colonists, and Ellen Ripley volunteers to go with them as a consultant.  When the team arrives on LV-426, they discover an Alien nest and that there are now over a hundred of the creatures.  It’s a battle of the heavily armed marines against a horde of vicious Alien monsters, a battle that will push Ripley and the marines to their limits of survival.

Directed by James Cameron and with music composed by James Horner, Aliens stars Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ellen Ripley.  Co-starring in the film are Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks, Paul Reiser as Carter Burke, Bill Paxton as Private William Hudson, Lance Henriksen as Bishop, and Carrie Henn as Rebecca “Newt” Jorden.

Aliens (1986) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Aliens (1986) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Aliens begins some time after the events in AlienWarrant Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)  is in a hypersleep chamber as the escape pod from the Nostromo continues to drift through space.  The pod is recovered by a salvage crew.  When it’s discovered that Ripley is still alive, she’s returned back to Earth.

On an orbiting space station, Ellen Ripley awakens from her sleep and meets Carter J. Burke (Paul Reiser), a representative of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, a mega-corporation that controls many deep-space operations, including the operation of the Nostromo from the first film.  In that movie, Weyland-Yutani Corporation was simply referred to as “The Company.”  Burke reunites Ripley with Jones, the cat from the Nostromo.  Ripley is then informed that she was actually in hypersleep for 57 years.  Her escape pod drifted through the common space traffic routes, and it was simply luck that a salvage crew found her.

Suddenly Ripley has tremendous pains inside of her body.  As Burke and a nurse try to help her, Ripley looks down and sees an Alien about to pop out of her stomach.  Just as it’s about to happen, Ripley wakes from her nightmare.  The Alien inside of her was just a nightmare, but being out in space for 57 years was very much real. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 31, 2014 at 10:59 pm

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Movie Review – Predator 2 (1990)

In 1987, the world was blown away by Predator, an action / sci-fi film that introduced us to the Predator, a space alien who came to Earth to hunt the deadliest of all species — human beings.  In this case, the Predator battled against a team of special forces soldiers led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

The end of the film had Dutch defeating the Predator and living to tell about it.  But we know that the Predator creature was not the only one of its species.  It’s part of a race of creatures that routinely visit the Earth for the purpose of hunting.  Since the first film was so successful, it was just a matter of time before we would see the Predator creature returning in a sequel.  The biggest question was where in the world would the creature strike?

Released in 1990, Predator 2 returned the deadly Predator creature to Earth.  Instead of fighting its prey in a dense jungle, this Predator chose to strike in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.  Set several years ahead in time, this version of Los Angeles is overpopulated, overrun with drug gangs, and it’s one of the hottest and most violent places on Earth.  It’s a hunting ground just ripe for the Predator.

Predator 2 (1990) - movie poster

Predator 2 (1990) – movie poster

Directed by Stephen Hopkins and with music composed by Alan Silvestri, Predator 2 stars Danny Glover in the lead role as L.A.P.D. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan.  Supporting him in the film are Gary Busey as Special Agent Peter Keyes, and Bill Paxton as Detective Jerry Lambert.  Kevin Peter Hall reprises his role as the Predator warrior.

Predator 2 begins in downtown Los Angeles.  The year is 1997 and crime is rampant.  Columbian and Jamaican drug cartels own the streets and have frequent gun battles with one another.

Predator 2 (1990) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Predator 2 (1990) – (c) 20th Century Fox

The film opens with the Columbian and Jamaicans having yet another shooting war on the streets of Los Angeles.  The L.A.P.D. cops are merely bystanders at this point as they’re easily outgunned by the two drug gangs.  Police Detective Lieutenant Roger Murtaugh, errrr, Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) arrives on scene and helps coordinate a daring rescue of two heavily wounded officers.  His brave technique works and several gang members are killed.  The rest of the Columbians retreat into their hideout and rearm themselves, waiting for the police.

While this is happening, a Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) is in the area and watching the fighting below him.  The Predator finally makes his move and attacks the Columbians inside of their hideout, easily killing most of them.  By the time the LAPD infiltrates the building, most of the Columbians are dead.  Harrigan reaches the building’s roof and shoots the Columbian leader, causing him to fall off the building to his death.  After killing the gang leader, Harrigan sees the camouflaged form of the Predator, but he shakes it off as just heat waves.  It’s summertime and the city’s streets are baking with heat. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

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