Lego Movie

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Part of the reason why Lego Movie was so err, awesome was that children and adults were given the same message and it seemed subversive to both – that the world we all live in is a bit of a lie.

The child’s ‘message’ is that the adult world is ultimately a bit dumb – they take themselves so seriously and yet despite having the best intentions mostly get everything wrong and ruin the things they hold dear – and even if they aren’t corrupt or stupid, spend most of their lives simply trying to fit in…

The perspective for the adult is subversive because as they watch and laugh at this broad, candy-colored parody of the world they live in and have already given most of their lives to – it’s a nervous laugh because the targets of the humor are close to home and right on the money.

There’s not many films that manage this – Toy Story is more interested in a traditional story arc of friendship and plot in a world which strives to look like our own – the very basic nature of Lego keeps this movie more in the realm of ideas and this serendipitous marriage of medium and message just adds weight and a kind of magic to the films’ main point which is celebrating the power of imagination.

Mars Curiosity Rover Interactive Tracker

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As the Mars Rover reached it’s ‘lab’ at the base of Mount Sharp the other day the New York Times published this great interactive Map thingie where you can see where the rover has been and click on different days (sols) to check out what it saw and did there, it’s a nicely put together little thingameejig.

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Atari Box Art

Ok, take us down… Rosetta mission picks spot to land

Just when i thought they couldn’t get any better – Holy Amazeballs!!!! – Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and Rosetta

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:From the ESA/Rosetta website:

“For those of you interested in some additional technical details, the two images combined to make this “HDR” version were both 10-bit raw images from one of the seven cameras in CIVA-P, with integration times of 128 milliseconds and 1549 milliseconds.

These were combined using the LR/Enfuse plug-in in Lightroom, with some additional tweaking of the overall balance afterwards.

Even with the longer integration time, the scene was very dark and, apart from the saturated highlights (which were then filled in by the short exposure), most of the image was down in the lowest few bits. That explains why there’s some slight banding in places, particularly in the lens flare around the stem of the solar array.

Keep in mind, by the way, that you’re seeing the backside of the array, not the side with the solar panels themselves.”

Snowpiercer – Bong-Joon Ho, 2014

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The story of a revolutionary power-struggle onboard a train carrying the last survivors of humanity after an attempt to arrest global-warming goes very wrong and kills of the rest of life on Earth. The train travels around the Earth using a ‘perpetual motion machine’ for the sake of the narrative, and those onboard are destined to live out their lives stuck in a brutal caste system based on where they dwell on the train.

Cryptic messages begin to incite ‘Curtis’, the latent leader of the brutally oppressed denizens of the ‘tail’ to rise up and try and seize the front of the train from the regime that controls them. Tilda Swinton plays the bizarrely drab spokeswoman for the mythical ‘Wilford’ – who seems, at the start something of a Oz type character – a semi-deity that gives them life from up front in the ‘sacred engine’

We’ve seen a few of these types of sci-fi movies before – The Matrix springs to mind – with it’s steam-punky representation of once well-to-do people, meant to represent the remnants of Western Society reduced to a sort of Burning Man population – dressed up like Mad Max characters in leather and bangles but still managing to look buff and crustily attractive.

There’s some of that here but it’s undercut a lot by the Director’s non-Hollywood origin – and he doesn’t simply follow the ‘Messianic White Guy saves humanity’ template left there by so many other movies.. without wanting to spoil the plot I’ll leave it at that.

One thing that’s always bothers me about nearly every post-apocalyptic sci-fi film that gets released (and there are dozens, we just love killing ourselves off) is that they use the pretext of a global holocaust as merely a ‘cool’ plot point so that they can show lots of CGI of devastated cities, overgrown and reclaimed by nature – as if that forgives us for destroying the planet we still have.

Snowpiercer goes deeper than that in a few respects – giving us insights into the human cost of what it would mean to be a survivor in that world and it’s very brutal at times without resorting to gore. There’s plenty of action too, some of it in slow-motion with blood that’s actually the colour of blood for a change but it never just turns into a string of dumb, fanboy-pleasing set-pieces.

Often in these kind of action-journey pictures it’s pretty easy to tell who will make it and who won’t. Snowpiercer nicely subverts this trope and after setting-up the tough-as-nails world of the train doesn’t simply betray it and lead us to a nice jolly ending.. Spielberg’s War of the Worlds springs immediately to mind.. along the way the characters’ back stories and motivations are revealed to us adding up to a solidly rounded-out, character-driven piece which isn’t quite what you expect..

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Director: Bong Joon-ho
Running time: 126 minutes
Languages: French, Japanese, English, Korean
Screenplay: Kelly Masterson, Bong Joon-ho

Beautiful Earth from the ISS – Alexander Gerst

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