Movie time! Star Trek: Into Darkness

Ok, so I thought I’d better write this post before I forget too much of the movie (I’m also going to watch Man of Steel tomorrow:D).

Alrighty then, down to business: Do, or do you not watch it? DO!…it of course depends on whether you like sci-fi, Star Trek or action. Any of those 3 and you’ll enjoy it 🙂 It’s a fitting “follow on” (sequel isn’t quite the right word as the plot has nothing to do with the previous one) to the reboot of the Star Trek franchise. It has Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, the Enterprise and beaming ups aplenty. The greatest addition to the cast though was Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame being cast as the bad guy. He is rather good at it…but he seems to be quite good at playing slightly deranged characters 😛 The action is fast and fierce, and along with the story, will keep you entertained for the 2 hours the movie runs 🙂

SPOILER ALERT:

Ok, there were very few scientific inaccuracies I could pick up (always nice for a sci-fi film), but the notable one was:

  • When the Enterprise is fighting the giant evil Enterprise, the two ships are flying around in space shooting at each other, having a whale of time when suddenly BAM! Good Enterprise gets sucked into Earth’s gravity…unless it had reached orbiting speeds gravity would have affected it the whole time and sucked the Star Ship in sooner, or it would not have affected the ship. Gravity isn’t a binary state.
  • …I watched it a month or so ago and wrote exams in between, so my memory is slightly hazy I’m afraid. If there are others please let me know and I’ll add it to the post 🙂

Keep a close eye out for the Man of Steel review, I’ll write that one on Sunday! 😀

Jeremy

Zero Dark Thirty: Nitty, gritty…great

Soldiers about to breach

Real-life super heroes

I can’t do the movie justice in a short blog post, but what I can say is this: if you ever wonder why the US needs the CIA, NSA, Marines, Rangers or most of its other “bands of rough men”, watch the movie. It’s from the same director as The Hurt Locker, but this isn’t a tale about unwanted guests, it’s a tale of persistence, heroism, and the unwavering urge to see justice done. It is quite long, but I wasn’t bored for a second, and if you don’t like thrillers then it isn’t for you. But boy, I’d recommend it.

As a Christian I could have moral objections to war, and the actions stemming from it. But honestly, I haven’t been there so I should just shut it, and God couldn’t have too big a problem with people defending themselves if He allowed us to defeat Facism during WWII. But honestly, this quote from George Orwell sums it up nicely:

“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. ”

Jeremy

 

Lincoln: Heroic or humdrum?

Abraham Lincoln, 16th president

Abraham Lincoln, 16th president, from the White House’s website

Quick review: very, very good movie. As the story of Lincoln ended slavery it deserves most of the Oscars it has been nominated for in my opinion. It’s moving, it’s dramatic, it’s well acted, it’s suspenseful despite you knowing how it’s going to end; the lot. However the review was the not the purpose of this post. That’ll be explained now:

I’m a bit of a Yankophile (apparently the most common term on the internet for USA (henceforth referred to as America for simplicity) the American equivalent of Anglophile).

They helped win WWII, a war my granddad served in, so I’ve got a bit of emotional involvement there. I’ve also been raised on modern television, movies and media which is dominated by America. Apart from England (God save the Queen! I’m an Anglophile as well), they’ve been the longest running stable democracy (that I can think of offhand: I’m sure a few European countries have been “civilised” for a while as well), and have MIT.

And their second-most famous president is the titular Abraham Lincoln (after George Washington, a slave owner (although he kinda freed them after his death) and a proponent of scorched earth tactics, even against non-combatants). Ok, I promise no more parenthesis now: old Abe has until recently ranked in my top 5 favourite leaders of all time which is including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, King David of Jewish fame, and King Leonidas of Spartan fame. So obviously I was very excited to watch Lincoln. 

And to bring everything together: due to my exposure to America I’ve always thought Lincoln was a saint, the sole saviour of the enslaved black population of the pre-civil war United States, progressive thinker, the lot. And that’s what the movie shows. However I found this article from the Daily Mail, and it kinda shattered my universe a little bit:
Was Lincoln racist?

I won’t lengthen this post further, but I just recommend you read it, and judge for yourself how skewed history can get.

Jeremy

Double feature of science-y goodness (or lack of it)!

Abe Lincoln, badass

Abraham Lincoln: husband, father, president…vampire hunter

So I unfortunately have my bi-semester test week starting on Monday, and like a good university student I put off studying and went for pizza and movie on a Friday night. I had seen the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which had stirred up great excitement in me. Finally a vampire movie where the vampires are the evil, blood sucking creatures that they should be! I really quite enjoyed the film; I went expecting an entertaining B-grade film (not that in a bad way…you know what I mean), and it delivered solidly. Lots of blood, decapitation and badass axe play were plentiful, so if you don’t like any of that, don’t watch it. Anyhoo, on to the scientific critique:

  • During his training Abraham Lincoln is told to chop down a tree with a single blow. But the tree is a good 30cm across, making this an inhuman feat, and since Abe was not imbued with any super-supernatural strength, I’m calling this scene. Although it must be said that when he swings through the tree it breaks more than slices, which is what you’d realistically expect from something the size of that axe head moving with enough speed to do that amount of damage to a tree (which are quite tough) so well down to the people there.
  • Apart from the above scene, the movie does surprisingly well (if I missed anything please let me know), taking into account some exaggerated physics, but the laws are bent not broken, so I’m not going to bother mentioning every little thing. However, at the end of the movie there’s a scene where Abe and his homies drive a train over a wooden bridge that is set on fire. A very nice construction the bridge was too. But as I’m studying the construction of railways as I type this, I noticed some stuff. First off, trains are pretty heavy things, so I doubt that the fire-weakened bridge would have supported the weight of the train and the carriages, but maybe I should be giving those ye olde engineers the benefit of the doubt. But when the train is nearing the end of it’s fateful journey, it and the track it was on drop about 3m down the bridge. Now, the momentum of the train would have sent it going straight through the wooden supports of that bridge all the way to bottom (as I said before, trains are heavy). And thirdly, there is almost no way a train can climb the kind of gradient that one did as it pulled itself up out of the fire-y pit of doom. In the movie a steam locomotive traveled up what seemed to be a 30% incline…pull the other one mate.

Now, the friends I went to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with and I saw the trailer for The Expendables 2, realised it was opening night, and decided to go watch a second movie that night (I had plenty of time to study later I told myself). Now, I must preface this by saying The Expendables 2  is the most testosterone filled 1h40 you can ever experience in your life…ever. It has Arnie, Bruce Willis, and Chuck freaking Norris. And an entire cast of badass men and woman, with Jason Statham being so hardcore my face exploded. It is filled with gratuitous violence, explosions, bullets, one-liners and inaccurate bad guys, making it the most amazing B-movie ever made (probably). It doesn’t take itself too seriously, meaning the movie is fun while being ridiculously badass at the same time. Heck, Chuck Norris tells a Chuck Norris joke, and Arnie and Bruce drive a Smart car through an airport while firing fully automatic weapons…possibly the greatest scene of my entire life.

Expendables poster

Yes. Yes, they all appear

All enjoyment aside, the movie was not scientifically accurate, but it doesn’t try to be, so I still recommend any action enthusiast should watch it.

  • Inaccuracy of the bad guys: the expendables hardly take cover, yet the countless hordes of bad guys cannot hit them…
  • Explosions: everything explodes. EVERYTHING.

I’ll have to watch it again objectively, because the sheer extremity of the movie threw my concentration off with regards to realism.

Sorry that this post took so long, but I’ve been busy at university, and haven’t watched many movies lately.

Jeremy

Mini-review: The Dark Knight Rises, and a side note on the Olympics

Dark Knight Rises characters

Yes. This is my current wallpaper

EDIT: I have no idea how I so callously forgot about the Colorado shootings when I wrote this blog, and so I apologise profusely and sincerely and  I send out condolences, sympathies and prayers from myself along with all other South Africans who heard of it.

I know I said previously that I wouldn’t review movies as such because I don’t think I have that particular talent, but I’d like to watch a second time while I’m calmer, but I’d just like to say a short piece about The Dark Knight Rises.  😀 😀 😀

Now moving on to the Olympics. Just kidding. But that’s all you really need to know. If you liked the previous two you will find this the most fitting ending to best Batman story line yet. All the regulars appear again in the final movie of the trilogy (note: it’s NOT triology), with the exception of The Joker, which I can understand. But there was talk of using some unused footage from The Dark Knight and a bit of CGI. I think it would have been nice to see the Joker, even just for a “cameo” as a nod to Heath Ledger. But I’m sure Christopher Nolan had his reasons 🙂

At just over 2h30m the movie does feel a bit long, since the beginning feels a tad long, but by the end you will be so engaged you forget all about it. I couldn’t take Anne Hathaway too seriously as Catwoman, but I still do not have any complaints. The rest of the cast was stellar as per usu (no idea how to make it come across as what I want to sound like), with Christian Bale giving his very good Batman performance, moving me with his plight. But a special mention must be made about Tom Hardy as Bane. Even though you never really see his face, or hear what he is saying half the time, his body language alone is amazing. You really feel his power and hatred. And if he did the voice himself well done to him (I blame poor post production for the lack of clarity). He is definitely a worthy, B.A.D.A.S.S. adversary for Batman. While the Joker was frightening in a psychopathic way, Bane is completely sane and entirely devoid of empathy, and more than a physical match for Batman.

Batman’s gadgets are obviously present, with a cool new addition from the Bat. Watch it and you’ll know what I mean 😉 The fight scenes are quite well done, the CGI is just amazing, and the scale of some of the scenes just incedible like the one in the football stadium…And this is why I don’t write reviews, I run out of steam halfway…I’ll finish off saying if you like action movies, superhero movies, Batman, or movies that comment on what people do under the direst of circumstances and how they are sometimes prepared to fight back, kick ass and take names then this is for you.

This post is already sitting at 463 words, so I’ll stop this post and make a separate one for the Olympics, they are important enough to deserve their own post. It’ll hopefully be up soon 🙂

Jeremy

Science-y stuff: The Avengers

Avengers' Poster

Epic cast, epic movie!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write a post on The Avengers. I would like to say just how awesome this movie was to see. It exceeded my expectations (which weren’t set that high from the sub-standard Thor and average Captain America) by blowing them out the water! And of course having Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t hurt. Man’s too epic in those cocky roles like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. AND it had the main chap from The Hurt Locker; the well deserving winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Picture. AND it had Samuel L. Jackson it it. ‘Nuff said.

Spoiler alert: I do apologise but this cannot be avoided (I’ve done my best). For a comic book movie it does quite well at being scientifically accurate, so I couldn’t find any glaring errors (if you spot one let me know, I’m writing this however many months since its opening weekend) but I did notice a couple of little things (all to do with the flying fortress):

  • Turbine blades: The four enormous turbines that hold the mini-city in the air are plausible (ignoring the blades), especially since the thing is probably nuclear powered anyway. However, in the scene where Iron Man push starts one of the turbines you see that the blades are made out of giant welded and bolted together pieces of metal. Turbines spin at such high speeds that the blades stretch out from all the heat and spinning forces (this process is known as creep). This means the blades scrape against the sides of the turbine causing havoc. In order to avoid this modern blades are made out of single pieces of metal, most made out of one single crystal of metal (it is one big grain of the metal) as this helps greatly to prevent failure. So the turbines in this flying fortress would have almost no chance of lasting for any extended time as the blades would tear apart (check here for more info, but don’t be worried if it seems confusing, I barely understand the basics myself).
  • Engine failure: One of the four turbine engines on the flying fortress fails, leaving the fortress to try and avoid crashing using three. Except it wouldn’t. On a fixed wing aircraft (a conventional plane) losing an engine isn’t too serious, especially on four-engined one like a 747, and even on a two engined plane. The pilot just has to reduce air speed and pootle along looking for the nearest airfield. This is because a plane gets enough lift from its speed which can be maintained by an engine. On a rotorcraft (a helicopter) is relying constantly on its rotors for lift. So if one of the engines failed on the flying fortress I seriously doubt the other three could have keep it aloft long enough for the fourth one to be restarted

As I said I’m sure I left something out so if you spotted anything drop a comment and I’ll probably update the post with your point 🙂

Jeremy

A twofold (and a half) post: Rock of Ages, Lockout & Fast & Furious 5

Before I get into the less boring stuff I’d just like to say I’ve finished my first month of work 😀 Now it’s back to university for me for a well deserved break 😛

I had the privilege to watch Rock of Ages this week, and I had such a blast. I can’t comment on its scientific accuracy because it’s, well, a musical, but let me just say if you like 70’s and 80’s rock music this will keep you entertained for its two hours. I’ve read some reviews on the’net that rate it quite average, but I found it enjoyable so that’s what counts right?

Lockout

Alright, let’s get down to business. I’m a massive (like second Death Star massive) fan of science fiction. I love it; in fact my first career choice is still to be a Space Marine. So it was with great anticipation I went to watch the movie Lockout. It’s prison in space right? How can you not make an awesome movie from that? Well, it turns out you can. I’m not saying Lockout is bad, it’s still entertaining, but nor is it going to win any awards. It’s average especially looking at what it could have been; I was hoping for Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay the movie. All that being said, I find science fiction movies are reasonably scientifically accurate if you take into account their technologies that don’t openly break the laws of physics. Lockout is no exception, with only two noticeable inaccuracies:

  • Space travel: this is a problem I see in almost every science fiction movie; objects can only travel in straight lines in space. There’s no gravity to affect travel, so once an object is underway it’s underway forever. To change direction in Earth’s atmosphere a plane banks, which means it experiences resistance from the air and it pushes off it, which in turn allows for the majestic sweeping and turning maneuvers you see fixed-wing aircraft perform (just flying normally). So in the vacuum of space the craft has no air to bank against, meaning when it wants to change direction it does instantly and in straight lines.
  • Human exposure to a vacuum: another favourite of films with space travel. In the movie a man is sucked out an airlock and freezes to death instantaneously when he hits the vacuum. This is just not true. Smart scientist types reckon the human body can survive up to 30 seconds in a vacuum and suffer no permanent side effects. As long as you exhale (to stop your lungs from expanding unbearably) you’ll be ok for a bit. Check here for a more in depth article.

Fast & Furious 5

Coming from the impressively accurate Lockout  I get to one of my favourite (not on my classic list, but my decent high octane action movies list): Fast & Furious 5. It brings back a lot of the previous characters into one big super-movie of shear awesomeness without actually needing you to have watched the first four (I confess I only watched the after this one). Heck, even The Rock graces the movie with his presence. If you like cars, gunfights, fistfights, or all of the above combined then this will be right up your cup of tea. The best bit? The Rock fights Vin Diesel, can I say anymore?

However, the movie would make Sir Isaac cringe:

  • Crashing a bus: this is in the opening scene so if you haven’t seen it it this isn’t really a spoiler. The crew needs to crash a prison bus to bust someone out. In order to do this they essentially put a car in front of the bus, hit the breaks and watch as the bus driver attempts to swerve out the way, fails, hits the car and then the entire bus starts to barrel roll, leaving the car unharmed. It is so unlikely that a 15 ton (15 000 kg with passengers) object will hit the back of a car and flip. In almost any conceivable reality it would feel but a slight discomfort, as an elephant might be annoyed slightly by the bite of a fly, and carry on it’s way.
  • Falling into water from height: water tension is b*tch. When you’re travelling at speed (not even terminal velocity) and you hit the surface of water it’s very similar to hitting ground. Two of the crew in the movie jump off a rather high cliff (looks higher than is safe), and hit the water resulting in no injury. I’d bet half my life savings (which isn’t much, don’t get your hopes up) that they’d at least break multiple bones.
  • The final sequence: ok, spoiler alert here. The crew eventually steals the bad guy’s safe with loads of dosh and drive through the streets of Rio pulling it behind two cars. This scene breaks so many rules I’ll break it down:
  1. Friction: it’s also a b*tch. I reckon the safe with the money in it comes close to 8 tons. This amount of weight being dragged along a tarmac road with no lubrication or wheels at those speeds would generate so much heat the entire safe would melt and all the money go up in smoke before it covers 5 blocks. Secondly, there is no way those teeny tiny cars, even if they’re suped up could drag that safe at those speeds and change direction so quickly so rapidly with all that friction.
  2. Momentum: yet again, it’s a b*tch. Those cars drag an 8 ton safe behind them through downtown streets of a city, meaning there’s lot’s of turning and maneuvering. The momentum of the safe travelling at those speeds would be so great that it would whip the cars behind it and hardly slow down every time they tried to take a corner; no way those cars could resist it.
  3. Cable strength: the safe is attached by two cables, one to each car. And they are not big, thick heavy cables. Cables are really tough things I’ll grant you that, but you still do not want to try and jerk them; they are not bungie chord. The cables in the movie would snap from all the jerking around the safe does.
  4. Slicing reinforced concrete pillars: at one stage the cars turn down a street sending the safe careening into a bank. They then proceed to drag the safe through the bank foyer, slicing the pillars with cable while doing so. Now, reinforced concrete pillars are not invincible, but they pretty touch. Those cars could not generate nearly enough power to cut through the columns like that.

All that being said I sat through F&F5 feeling like an 8 year old boy in short pants with my mouth hanging open I enjoyed it that much. I apologise for the long post, I haven’t done this in a while so I’ve got to give my fan something to keep him/her going 🙂

Jeremy