When We Left Earth
Throughout my entire life, I've always been drawn to space and stories about NASA and their missions, as I'm sure many others have. Anyone in their right mind would want to find out more about the incredible universe we live in, instead of chalking it up to some "being" that created us all (though many theists would claim that God created everything we find in the great unknown). The Discovery miniseries When We Left Earth satisfies plenty of these small curiosities. Recently, President Obama has come under significant scrutiny from scientists and astronomers due to his position (to cut the budget) on space exploration. Yet even more recently, he has countered those arguments with a few solid goals: to make asteroids and Mars a realistic destination for the future. JFK challenged Americans to reach the moon by 1961. According to the New York Times, Obama's vision is a bit different--it was a "call for private industry to innovate its way to Mars, rather than a call for a national effort to demonstrate American predominance." I can't say that I disagree: eventually, not in our lifetime or our children's lifetime or our grandchildren's lifetime, Earth will no longer be a safe and reliable home for human beings.
When We Left Earth is a 6-part miniseries consisting of hour long episodes about the general history of NASA and its missions. Part 1, entitled "Ordinary Superman", deals with the Space Race and the failures and successes of the Mercury program; Part 2, entitled "Friends and Rivals", deals with Project Gemini and the first American spacewalk; Part 3, entitled "Landing the Eagle", details the Apollo program with great interviews and views of the first Lunar landing; Part 4, entitled "The Explorers", deals with five other successful moon landings, including the Apollos; Part 5, entitled "The Shuttle", shows the Space Shuttle and the ill-fated Challenger mission (the video of which still gives me goosebumps no matter how many times I witness it); Part 6, entitled "A Home in Space", deals with the Hubble and the International Space Station and the failed Columbia Mission. All of the episodes are intriguing, entertaining and well worth watching. My only hope is this: in thirty years time, we will have another incredible and inspiring mini-series to view, probably titled When We Arrived, pertaining to more successful missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The story of Splice is complex yet very simple at the same time. Two scientists (the aforementioned actors) become mildly famous by splicing together the DNA of various animals. They want to take their experiments to the next level: by using human DNA in the mix, they could create incredible breakthroughs in science and medicine. The company they work for is opposed to this idea, due to the moral and ethical boundaries that will be pushed to the limit. So they decide to conduct the experiments on their own, in secret. What they create changes their lives forever, and it deals with issues of parenthood, love, discipline and the morality of creating a brand new species that threatens to leave their controlled environment. To give away more of the plot would rob the viewer of some entertaining twists and surprises.
This film was a big hit at the festivals lately, yet it barely made an impact to this past weekend's box office. Part of the problem is the marketing of the film. If you watch the trailer, it seems to be a Species-like horror movie about a genetically-altered creature wreaking havoc across the land. Although there are disturbing scenes of violence and medical procedures, the film should be taken as more of a Frankenstein-esque tale of a creator's love and personal moral questioning of the ethics of creating a fully-functioning human-like creature in a science lab, and then watching it discover the outside world. Should they treat their creation like a child? Like an animal? In Adrien Brody's character's case, he treats it like a lover at one point in the film. This is where Splice will polarize many of it's potential viewers. It raises the question of loving something that isn't quite human and isn't quite animal. The film's insightful about it's characters psychological motivations and the possibility that the creators are the ones that are the freaks, not the creature itself. It's creepy, it's intelligent, and it raises questions in the viewer's minds about the societal implications of working with DNA and the motivations and choices of parenthood. (B)
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Hard Knocks: New York Jets
Hard Knocks has been airing on HBO since 2001, though I never cast my eye upon it until last season's look at the Cincinnati Bengals. It's a very entertaining show (even if you're only mildly interested in Football), as it focuses more on behind-the-scenes looks at the team during training camp. It covers preparations for the upcoming season along with an inside look at the jokes, pranks, fights and injuries that occur in such a trying time for the players. Rookies and undrafted players also play a major role: how they respond to getting cut or making the roster and the toll it takes on their family and friends. These names minght sound familiar when they have a successful game early in the season and I easily beat you to the waiver wire to fill an empty slot on my team.
Electric Slide-grooving LaDainian Tomlinson. What it do, indeed. We couldn't have asked for a more pertinent set of personalities for some must-see T.V. Coming this late summer, I'll be watching and taking mental notes. You'll want to be watching too, so you wont have to succumb to the rape and pillaging of your fantasy team, courtesy of me, on a weekly basis.