July 28, 2008



The geek in me finds this very interesting. Today is the day we finally get to see the face of commercial space travel. I heard on NPR this morning the vehicles that will take paying customers to the edge of space (suborbital - not quite into orbit) will be revealed to the public. Here's a Wired article on the story.

This endeavor is a result of the winning of the Ansari X-Prize by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan (sponsored at the time by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) with his SpaceShipOne vessel which successfully entered suborbital space twice within two weeks time. Following Rutan's success Mr. Branson of Virgin Group started a company called Virgin Galactic and commissioned Rutan to design a larger version of SpaceShipOne, named appropriately SpaceShipTwo, which will take those who can afford it for a ride into space long enough to experience weightlessness for a moment. Today we get a first look at that. (Note: Mr. Branson's company is in competition with another private space flight company, Blue Origin, started by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.) It's amazing to think that something like space travel is falling in the hands of private individuals.

I mentioned the X-Prize before. The Ansari X-Prize was the first X-prize, and we're now seeing the fruit of that novel approach at accomplishing incredible tasks. Future X-Prizes include the goal of designing an automobile that gets 100 miles a gallon on gas or equivalent energy consumption, and Google is sponsoring an X-Prize similar to the Ansari with the goal of a successful mission to the moon that lands a rover that will record 500 meters of the surface in High Definition.


July 25, 2008


Who watches the Watchmen...and eventually the best version?

Yesterday I caught an interview with Zach Snyder, director of Watchmen, on G4 where he seems to indicate that an animated version of The Black Freighter (a separate sub story within the Watchmen story) is in the works but will likely not be included as part of the theatrical release, but as part of a special directors edition, or something of that sort, released eventually. Thats both reassuring that it will be included, and somewhat disappointing knowing fans will have to wait a while to see the best version of Watchmen not on the big screen. Watch the interview below.

click here for permalink of interview


July 24, 2008


A Dark Summer

The Dark Knight (IMDb) will likely be the biggest blockbuster of the summer. I went to see it last Friday, just barely able to get tickets by going to get them early in the day. I checked online before the show and tickets for every show that night were sold-out. So I'm not surprised that it destroyed at the Box Office. This film, I believe, is not just the best since Tim Burton's 1989 Batman (IMDb), its actually better.

The Dark Knight follows director Nolan's previous re-ignition of the Batman franchise with Batman Begins (2005) (IMDb), which while being great itself was purposefully a vehicle to reestablish the Batman universe and build up to The Dark Knight, a longer and more dynamic masterpiece. Which sets Nolan's movies apart from previous Batman films is the accuracy and appreciation the screenwriters have for the world Batman inhabits in the comics. The Dark Knight continues to develop the characters from Begins, firmly establishing the character Commissioner Gordon as Batman's best ally.

There are similarities to draw between this Batman film and Burton's. In particular, both films' plots revolve primarily around a conflict with Batman and his arch nemesis The Joker. In these films the quality of acting by the actors portraying The Joker is a large part of what makes them great. Jack Nicholson played the part masterfully, and so has Ledger. I think he ought to be seriously considered for the best supporting actor Oscar nomination (tragically posthumously). His performance is every bit as terrifying as the role Javier Bardem won for in No Country For Old Men last year.

As might be expected there were several intriguing trailers shown with The Dark Knight. Three that stood out in my mind were: Terminator Salvation, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and most especially The Watchmen (or watch it here at apple).

Trailer notes: After Terminator 3 I wasn't that interested in any more sequels, but this trailer has restored my curiosity. The Day the Earth Stood Still is aparently a remake and looks to be a dramatic special effects update of the original. Casting Reeves as an emotionless ambassador from another world seems a logical choice.

Having seen the trailer for The Watchmen, the concerns I may have for the ability for anyone to bring it to the big screen are decreasing. The details are perfect, from the costumes, to the sets...from the grit to the posh lifestyles, and the even the Smashing Pumpkins song works well to accentuate the feeling within a watch of a winding down, epitomizing the overriding theme of the story. But even though the trailer looks perfect, its still going to be quite a challenge to recreate all the nuances of the story on a screen. I wonder even if it is articulated perfectly on screen, will be as well received as a film as it has been as a graphic novel? I hope so, I'm looking forward to it.

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