Currently browsing the "space" tag.

Quickie Review: Apollo 11 (Documentary)

July 1969. I was barely two, so I don’t have any real memory of watching history unfold on television, as NASA attempted (and accomplished) its most daring mission ever: to put a man on the moon. Fast-forward fifty years, and I can almost believe I shared the moment in real-time with millions of other Earth-bound spectators. That’s what makes this new documentary so darned cool (especially in IMAX). It’s not just a rehash of the oft-seen grainy footage of astronauts in bulky suits skipping along dusty craters and planting the Stars and Stripes. Apollo 11 offers a much wider view, literally and figuratively, thanks to the discovery and restoration of a trove of 65mm wide format footage and more than 11,000 hours of previously-uncataloged audio recordings.

Review: First Man

I love Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive, The Notebook). I love space dramas, and true stories, and American heroes. I’m a big fan of director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). But I just didn’t love First Man – much as I really, really wanted to. It’s a solid flick, for sure, with some great visual effects and a moving narrative about the risks and sacrifices astronaut Neil Armstrong (and many others) took in one way or another to advance our exploration of space. I was a mere toddler when Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, but I can assure you I was plopped in front of the TV along with half the planet to watch history unfold. No #FakeNews here! President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge, and we sent a man to the moon. How awesome is that? This is the stuff of movies! Which brings me back to… First Man.

The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us is a hot mess of a sci-fi drama about a boy who was born on Mars after his astronaut mother, Sarah, apparently failed to take an Early Pregnancy Test before setting off on a super-long shuttle mission to colonize the Red Planet. In a sad twist of events, Sarah discovers shortly after take-off that she’s pregnant, and then dies from complications during childbirth. That’s not a spoiler. It’s in the trailer, and sets up the rest of the story about the life and times of Gardner Elliott, an extremely bright but socially-awkward kid who grows weary of life in a Martian bubble. As puberty hits, Gardner gets rebellious and decides to visit his home planet Earth – to meet a cool girl he’s met online, and maybe even find his mysterious, unidentified father. (Sadly, it’s not Matt “The Martian” Damon.)

Passengers

Passengers is basically Castaway in space – with a bit of Gravity and The Martian thrown into the mix. Only it’s not as good as the aforementioned titles, mostly because it lacks tension and drama. Even the sexual tension between the attractive main characters is dispensed of rather quickly, if ya know what I mean.

The Martian

Finally! A movie I can recommend to just about anyone. The Martian has soared to the top of my (extremely short) ‘what’s out there right now that you really should see on the big screen’ list. It’s smart, entertaining, uplifting and remarkably accessible to mainstream as well as geeky-fringe audiences. Seriously, this movie has it all: it’s visually immersive, the stakes are palpable, and despite the science-fiction nature of the plot, the characters are relatable and – certainly in the case of botanist-astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) – worth busting NASA’s budget to save!

Interstellar

As an astute co-worker noted, ‘If Inception and Gravity had a baby, it would be Interstellar. It’s a mind-bender with an exceptional cast and a story that those of us who (intentionally) skipped Physics in grade school will surely fail to grasp. No spoilers here – ‘cause I’m not really sure what happened!

Anyway, fans of director Christopher Nolan’s 2010 brain-strainer Inception will surely appreciate this flick as well. And like last year’s Gravity, Interstellar needs to be seen on the big screen in all its IMAX glory. It’s experiential. Sometimes loud and pulsating (bring earplugs). Sometimes eerily silent.

Gravity

Gravity almost makes you want to go out into space… sort of… at first. And then – not so much. It’s a bit like watching Tom Hanks in Castaway, but instead of a beach, there’s a whole lot of nothingness. And instead of Hanks, you get Sandra Bullock in a space suit. The movie is good. But it’s not astronomically brilliant, despite the Oscar buzz. And it really does need to be seen in IMAX. So if you do plan to go, cough up the extra dough to see it in all its immersive glory.