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I don’t know if I can watch this – it’s supposed to be a science fiction movie, but it ‘reads’ like a stage play. The English is a bit formal.

Other than that, this was filmed in 2001/2002. They believe that NASA is still around, and a Mars mission would be headed by the United States. I won’t get too into the stuff they’ve glossed over science-wise (instant communication over one million kilometers but still several years to travel).

But this looks like a stage play, too. Tight shots, very carefully dressed, sanitized space ship sets. They’re running out of supplies but they managed to stash the chemicals to keep one of the scientists in hair bleach.

They made a lander with no sleeping couches? Strange. The space blankets look like … well, camping/space blankets sewn to quilted moving blankets.

Some of the doors look familiar. Airplane doors? A stripped plane body would be an awesome backdrop in which to film a “closed room” set piece. But it’s kitted out with standard current space stuff, but the helmets are movie helmets, that is, unpolarized and with convenient flip tops. Can’t tell where they filmed the “Mars” shots, but it reminded me of the sharp lava fields in the Galapagos Islands and other volcanic Earth terrain.

Hrm – some side comments in there that seem to be an allusion to the attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York in 2001.

Well, at least they have fire extinguishers. Looks like the one in my office. 🙂 ABC, I hope.

Ok, one good line in there about an hour and five minutes in. Not suitable for younger audiences, but worth skipping ahead to about the one hour mark to catch it.

Spoilers below …. (Continued)

Phone booths are back!

on a nostalgia trip watching Back To The Future II. It’s 2015, and the first thing I see as he walks around the corner is a phone booth. Guess they are in an alternate universe where cell phones never happened …

Of course, if the courthouse scene is any indication, they still make drama glass. Yeesh. And newspapers won’t be dead in five years. You guys at Scripps can relax. 😉

One thing they did get right was a Florida baseball team. Maybe I should bet on the Cubs in a few years … If we’ve got flying cards and weather control. I see a bit of a continuing trend of drug problems. At least they were somewhat realistic.

Don’t forget to catch the original in theaters later this month!

No matter where civilization takes us, we’ll always have canned corn.

And gruel. I’ve been paying attention to food in movies lately. Food pillsin The Fifth Element, unappealing gruel in The Matrix, Red Delicious apples in STNG.

I think it started when I streamed Pillars of The Earth. Very vivid, detailed, although edited unmercifully for television. Fresh food all the time. Even in the dead of winter, no withered apples …

Firefly is enamored of strawberries. They are a great bright example of the value at which fresh food is held.

But I just watched Shindig again. More strawberries and some kind of hot cheese at the uh, Shindig. Back on board, however, River is having one of her episodes, peeling labels off canned food. Most with labels I can’t read – I don’t know if they just raided a local store or someones pantry. But I did recognize the Green Giant corn. I’ve cracked my share of cans making ramen over the years.

You can explore strange new worlds and meet new civilizations, but you can’t leave behind big ag.

In 2011, when 99% of the world’s population dies

At least we save the Stokke Strollers. Phew! Five million people are left, the only thing you can save are the strollers and the parasols? Sounds good to me. I didn’t notice the Stokke strollers by name the first time around, but we were a baby-wearing family. I did notice the shopping baskets.

They also saved insane shoes. That’s another disappointment with the future – women still cram five toes into a toe box that was designed for three. Or do they just cut their toes off in the future?

The shopping basket looks like you took a kid’s crawl-through tube and snicked it along one length to put your green groceries into. I’ve been searching online but I can’t really find it, though the stroller was pretty easy.

It’s hard to tell how much is “hey let’s use this” from the prop and set design team and how much is actual product placement. Either way, when the shoot is done, hey, cheap props. 🙂 I know they can’t modify those strollers and send them back.

Knives are pretty standard in the kitchen. Looks like one I have. No laser knives slicing those future-perfect tomatoes, though there are other sorts of futuristic frippery going on. They couldn’t find any future shiny baby clothes, so they basted together some bits of cloth and pinked the edges. Yay, they saved pinking shears.

I mean, think about it, many billions of people are dead, survivors are straggling into the one city kept alive by the Goodchild family, and what are you dragging with you? Anything you can fold and pack into your Stokke strollers. I’m glad to see that pinking shears are in someone’s survival kit.

In the next couple of years, we apparently disband OSHA

Who needs warning labels and decent hand rails, ramps, or non-slip floors? I just finished watching a movie set in the not-too-distant future (Paycheck) where there were lots of dramatic stairs, steps and cat walks. Perfect for breaking our neck on.

We also start making our computer cables out of light tubes, perfectly able to strangle our enemies on the fly.

And apparently there are some special physics involved; they invented a liquid nitrogen that explodes. You will note that while there are a number of bottles and tubes (mostly SCUBA air tanks and painted-over SIGG bottles) that do a lot of explosive velocitizing, only the nitrogen bottles in the hardware room that are set to explode sport explosion warnings. I guess that’s so our hero will have a chance to use one of the items he prepped for his future self: A bullet. Good thing they use zipties in the future and leave them lying around so he didn’t have to pack one of those along.

Everything else was pretty standard modern day and retro near future; it’s always hard to do these “almost future” movies. But again, they’ve not bothered with any sort of user interface design – all of the intended users of this powerful relativity laser know what buttons to hit. All 24 unmarked, identical ones. And in what order. That’s some intuitive design! (not).

But the programming room was pretty (never mind the lit giant vent ducts and the explodish liquids right next to the programming table). Like one of our old favorites, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, you have to know what you’re doing to program or deprogram the machine. The magic programmy card bricks glow, but they don’t have labels or guides … probably no documentation either. 😛

Glad to see that hasn’t changed in the future! Documentation is for wimps! Real programmers program around spaghetti code! (not)

Space: The Final Foam Beer

Apparently in the future, aside from having rather barbaric childbirth practices, the warp drives are cooled by beer.

When I first saw the Star Trek Reboot, it reminded me of some of the “how we make the things with the stuff” style shows on Discovery or The Science Channel. A big grainery or mixing factory. I was close – the engineering scenes were filmed in a brewery.

Of course, they destroyed Vulcan, so you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay there. Reboot indeed. At least there are a few more women in higher positions than “helpers” aboard.

Movies in this post: Star Trek (2009)

Say hello to my little borg hand …

So I’ll have to go back and watch StarTrek: First Contact again, but it’s on now and I’ve got to get into this.

So Picard, Worf, and some red shirt are suiting up into outer space suits from the twentythird and a half century to do some Borg killing out on the ship’s hull. There is something seriously wrong with these things; you can’t bend your neck, though you can move it around. Their big gloved hands can hit teeny tiny buttons I can barely hit bare fingered. And then Worf throws away his gun. Geeze, just because the Borg adapted to all the phase modulation that the rifles should have been equipped with …

Why, with everything they can do, can’t they have smart atmo suits? Just tighten up around the breach. Nope, Worf has to make his own off screen just to make up for atmo suits made by the peace-mongering Federation. The same Federation that does no disaster planning, allowing senior officers to be taken captive without deactivating their authorization codes.

Other than that, not much to write about in April 2063, looks like the basic shape of stills and corrugated tin for “shacks” haven’t changed much. Why mess with perfection?

Movies in this post: Star Trek: First Contact

Speaking of malpractice, let’s talk about handwaving

These guys explain handwaving better than I do. But there is a lot of it in future tech.

And in some cases, they don’t. Case in point, The Fifth Element – cigarettes are still there, they still cause cancer, but they have reversed the size of the filter and the tobacco part of the cigarette. They even portray the culture as down on smoking (FOUR A DAY. TO QUIT IS MY GOAL.) as well as allowing the quaintness of lucifer sticks to remain (see PLOT DEVICE).

Other than that, they don’t really touch drugs. One junkie visits the hero early on and gets shut down, and other than the implication that you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant (excepting Alice) Fhloston’s Paradise.

On the one hand, handwaving is super annoying – on the other hand, it’s another way to get the story moving. If you get too far away from your intended audience’s perception of reality and give them no context to hang things on, you’ve pretty much failed at your movie or tv show or book. I wonder if the universities of tomorrow will have degrees in comparative modern literature, explaining these “period pieces” to the future generations much as Willy the Shake and others are taught now.

Movies in this post: The Fifth Element

The issues of the loins

Sorry, it’s just been busy. I’ve been watching movies, weird and cool, dull and flashy, fun and funky. There is a lot of sci-fi future fantasty out there – and now I can’t take it in like brain candy, I’m really watching it.

One thing that came up as I was taking my notes was Childbirth. Women in the 23rd, 24th, and 25th century are still giving birth in that weird on-the-back position, groaning and screaming. Why? I know it’s popular now in Western cultures, but really?

I suggested this discussion to be taken up by a blogger I follow, but it never went past us fans chatting on a Facebook thread. But really, think about how important and damaging this is. It’s perpetuating something that might not be all that great for anybody. And in the years since I’ve brought my kids (not that long ago) into the world, everything we were told is turning out to be wrong. Breech birth? Okay! Home birth? Wonderful! Midwifery? Sure! Hypnobreathing? Go for it! Vaginal Birth after Cesarean? Doooo it!

But to look at the future, it seems like nothing has changed. It reflects the misconceptions we have now, and helps perpetuate it all. From Padme giving birth in a room full of robots and then mysteriously dying from the effort (STARWARS) to Keiko O’Brian screaming at her unexpected birth attendant, Lt Cmd Worf (STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION). I’d think Klingon men be required to attend births as a show of their strength, though I hope they don’t use the bat’leth for an episiotomy (Klingons are portrayed as “barbaric”, but I’m sure they realize that tearing naturally is better, and that there are a number of ways to prevent tearing).

But it’s not just the strange new worlds and new civilizations. On Earth you can’t give birth except on your back, with robed helpers listening to mom holler while dad is on the other side of a glass wall (GATTACA) or strapped down like the filthy breeder you are (FORTRESS).

What are these portrayals telling the next generation? That there is no other way to be, to live, to birth? Just my two copper, not that I’ve had a Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery of the issue of my loins.

Hello there, shiny dumb design.

As I type this, I’m using a future is now toy and feeling very fakey futurish. Watching The Fifth Element in one window, sureefsearching in another, and typing this in a third. And to think back in the late Eighties I couldn’t see a need for a computer to do a bunch of different things at once. Now I use a phone that’s a bit of a unitasker but can do all these tasks (not in tandem – this generation).

So shiny dumb designs in the future. Transparent plasti-paper, printed in dark ink. Thirteen and a half minutes into this movie, the President is reading one in a room that has a dark palette. Wrong. Not readable, without a tiny bit of glow or translucency to separate it from the ambient environment. Later on, Dallas is sent a letter on the same paper, but in a a whitish envelope (paper) that makes it easier to read, though the plasti-paper is flashed around for the camera.

I’m sure that reusable paper is a common everyday item in the future; advances in electrostatically charged paper have been made, and the ebook wars rage on. I can see a combination of both coming to pass; maybe not as light and functional as a capture print (Serenity), but a home or commercially reusable standard, a bit less intensive than the older reclamation processes of parchment.