WARNING: This blog contains random thoughts on technology, software engineering, and general all-round nerdery. Read at your own risk. Nerd is contagious.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pale Blue Dot (revisited)

The Loft Productions created a "re-imagining" of Carl Sagan's famous Pale Blue Dot, and it includes some amazing time lapse photography, as well as an original piano piece. Very moving, and the last time lapse (shifting from day to night) is simply stunning.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Blu-ray Review of The Final Countdown (1980)

My Netflix queue is, shall we say, "diverse".

I recently received The Final Countdown on Blu-ray through my queue. I added this movie a while back while in a nostalgic mood, and had sort of forgotten about it until now. The basic premise of the 1980 movie is that a US carrier goes through some storm and travels through time back to the day before Pearl Harbor. The only two things I remember from my childhood about this movie was 1) Some really lame effect of travelling through time, and 2) A scene where friggin' F-14's take on Japanese Zero's!!!!

If there's two things I love, it's Sci-Fi and F-14's. Top Gun is one of my favorite movies (though, technically speaking, the movie's action scenes don't really hold up to modern standards). Clearly I had to watch this movie!

I had both good and bad reactions to this movie. The Final Countdown, according to RottenTomatoes is only half-good, and I definitely had the same feelings. The acting is pretty mediocre, and the ending is anti-climactic. It's funny watching a pre-Terminator movie discussing notions like "time paradox" and "changing the future."

On the other hand, what I wasn't expecting is just *how* well this movie captures life aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, and it's all captured in fantastic detail on the Blu-ray transfer. Some of the shots of the F-14s flying and the "carrier" at work are awe-inspiring, and you really get a sense of the sheer effort involved in keeping an aircraft carrier fully operational. I do have to say, that the first scene when a Tomcat takes off, I was expecting Danger Zone to be playing in the background!

I'd say if you enjoy Sci-Fi and enjoy military themes, this is definitely a good rental. What makes it particularly entertaining are the 2 "extras" in the Blu-ray. One of them deals with the general production of the movie and some of the challenges, and it's one of the first DVD extra I've seen that actually "talks some smack" about the director and some of the people involved, so that was refreshing!

The second extra is worth a big mention, it deals with the Jolly Roger squadron pilots that were hired to film the aviation scenes (the 5 weeks they spent filming used up their "vacation leave"), and they had some really interesting anecdotes about the production:
  • There's an infamous scene when an F-14 is dogfighting a Zero where the Tomcat pitches up, rolls to one side and dives toward the ocean, only to pull up with what appears to be mere feet from the surface. Apparently the plane did bottom out with about a 100ft above the deck, and it was so dangerous that they didn't show it to their commanding officers until the movie was in theaters
  • After shooting one day, the pilots and director were in the hotel bar when Katherine Ross, the female lead showed up. The pilots asked the director to introduce them to her, but she refused to meet them for no reason. So, the next day, one of the pilots took a sign up that read "F*** You, Katherine Ross!" onboard a Tomcat, and while filming a refuelling scene they held it up so the camera got a shot of it. Two days later (it took that long to process the film), in their "dailies" meeting, the brought up the film to review, and, with Katherine Ross present at the table, the first shot of the film was the pilots holding up this sign :)
Watching the extra featurettes made this movie worth the rental, so I'd recommend you give it a look-see, and tell me what you think!