Saturday, December 31, 2011

UFO movie news round-up (1 Jan. 2012)

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Harrison Ford is to play the role of Colonel Hyram Graff in Ender's Game, a big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic – and, until now, “unfilmable” – sci-fi novel about a future Earth under threat of invasion by a race of insectoid aliens known as 'Formics'. Set seventy years after an epic human/alien war, the story follows the character of Ender Wiggin, a young boy whose tactical genius offers hope for humanity in the face of a new Formic invasion.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ender's Game will also star Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Abigail Breslin and Ben Kingsly. Ben Hood (Rendition, X-Men: Origins) will helm the production, while Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (whose credits include Transformers and Cowboys and Aliens) will produce. Shooting begins in February and the movie will hit cinemas in March 2013.

In other news, Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor has been chosen by Marvel to direct the sequel to Thor. Plot details for Thor 2 are sketchy at present, but the first movie – which features in my ten most notable UFO movies of 2011 list – touched on various themes and ideas central to UFOlogy, including Ancient Astronauts, wormhole travel and shadowy government agents tasked with monitoring extraordinary phenomena. Incidentally, the character of Thor will also be appearing in the upcoming mega-movie The Avengers, in which he and other Marvel superheroes will be pitted against the alien menace Loki – Thor’s own brother. Thor 2 is due for release in 2013. The Avengers is released this April. View the trailer below...

Finally, the Moscow-set alien invasion movie The Darkest Hour has opened to poor reviews from critics. Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a D+, noting: “You should be rooting for the humans, but you might as well be rooting for the blobs. Most likely, though, you’ll just be rooting for the credits.” Ouch. The Wrap was no less scathing in its review, calling The Darkest Hour anaggressively idiotic movie”, saying of its thinly sketched characters: “if these dimwits represent the hope of humanity, bring on the alien overlords.” In the same vein, The Hollywood Reporter describes The Darkest Hour asAn alien invasion flick that evidently expects dramatic shots of a depopulated Red Square to make up for a flatlining screenplay and the absence of even a single compelling character." Ouch again. For many more wince-inducing reviews of The Darkest Hour, head on over to Rotten Tomatoes.
The Darkest Hour (2011): An "aggressively idiotic movie."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The ten most notable UFO movies of 2011

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

UPDATED: 30 December 2011

Top row, left to right: Attack the Block, Paul, Mars Needs Moms, Thor, Super 8. Bottom row, left to right: Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Cowboys and Aliens, Transformers 3, Apollo 18.

As we say goodbye to 2011 I thought it only appropriate that I put together a list of what, in my opinion, have been the best, worst, and most interesting UFO movies of the year. Please do feel free to compile your own lists in the comments section below.

For those new to Silver Screen Saucers, I define a "UFO movie" as:

Any movie that taps directly into any aspect of UFO mythology or notably draws inspiration from UFOlogical discourse, incorporating into its plot references to frequently debated UFOlogical phenomena (abductions, crop circles, etc.), events (Roswell, for example) and locales (such as Area 51), and/or specialised UFOlogical terminology (‘Close Encounter’, ‘missing time’, ‘Blue Book’, ‘Moon Dust’, ‘Majestic’, etc).

A UFO movie need not be about UFOs, per se, nor feature traditional UFOlogical iconography (such as flying saucers or little ‘Grey’ aliens with big black eyes), but will nevertheless often devote a respectable amount of its running time to the dramatisation of imagined human/alien interactions, usually – though not always – in the context of a ‘first contact’ scenario in which the extraterrestrials assume the role of visitor/invader. In other words, the UFO movie frequently is concerned with the possibilities inherent from a human perspective in earthly encounters with extraterrestrials.

Silver Screen Saucers' ten most notable UFO movies of 2011

Ranked according to quality (with star ratings out of five)

Ranked according to level of UFOlogical interest/significance


Five high-profile UFO movies due for release in 2012

Information and discussion about all of the above movies is accessible directly through the Silver Screen Saucers' search bar function at the top right of the page. For a comprehensive list of UFO movies due for release between 2012 and 2014, simply scroll down the Silver Screen Saucers sidebar.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Sorry I skipped the blog last week.  We had a weekend visit by the Director of the Fish & Wildlife Service as well as some visitors from the State of Hawaii and climate change experts.  We also got our annual flight of volunteers to count all of the albatross nests.  They're keeping very busy with somewhere around a half a million nests to count.  My wife, Dasha,  also came to visit for a couple of weeks and is helping with the bird banding, greenhouse work, and whatever else needs doing.  She's not getting much of a vacation, but at least she's out of the lab for a couple weeks.
I've got a bunch of photos this time so I'll put the rest of the text in the captions.  I won't do another blog tomorrow, but should be able to get one in next Sunday.

 This is the Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe, stepping around albatrosses while getting a tour of Eastern Island.

We also took the group out snorkeling.  This is a spectacled parrotfish and a saddle wrasse in the foreground.

 The albatross nest counters are counting nests on Eastern Island.  They stretch out in a row and walk a line to make sure they get all of the nests.

The albatross counters also help with other things around the island when they can.  They spotted this net floating in the water and helped me take it away.

 The Short-tailed albatross on the nest is looking particularly shiny this year.  His head is much more gold this year.

Here's a zoomed and cropped photo so you can see his coloring a bit better.

The volunteers, Dasha, and the new Physician's Assistant are getting kayak training in the harbor.  The weather wasn't the greatest, but now they can take the kayaks out on nicer days.

 This is an uncommon bird around here.  This is a brant goose.  They breed in Alaska and northern Canada in summer and migrate down the Pacific coast for winter.  If this one can find enough food, it'll probably stay around until April or May before flying back up to the breeding grounds.

 The dolphins have been near the mouth of the harbor a lot in the past few weeks, so I've been getting a couple of decent photos of them lately.

The hydroponics garden is looking really good these days!

A Laysan duck splashes around to wash itself.

 We had a marine debris ornament making party at Capt. Brooks a couple of days ago.  The albatross counters are painting some floats.  We'll have a gift exchange tonight at the All Hands Club, and a nice big Christmas dinner at the Clipper House tomorrow.

Darlene's snowman looks like it should be a character in "Nightmare Before Christmas".  And it's not actually holding the glass of wine.

This is one of Dasha's float ornaments.

This was my ornament this year.  I may have made another one too but the blue paint took a long time to dry.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'The Darkest Hour': new viral video

Silver Screen Saucers

A faux news report has hit the web ahead of the Christmas Day release of the alien invasion thriller The Darkest Hour...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pearl Harbor, Kahana, Eclipse, etc.

There was a lot happening this week on Midway.  The island Thai population had a holiday on Monday for the Thai King's Birthday, Wednesday was Pearl Harbor Day and our supply ship, the Kahana, came in, we started our major albatross banding season, a lunar eclipse, a nice snorkel on a beautiful day on Saturday, and topped it off with a boat ride today with the dolphins around again.

Most people don't know that Dec. 7, 1941 was an eventful day for Midway as well as Pearl Harbor.  Midway was attacked by Japanese ships on that day.  It was nowhere near the scale of the Pearl Harbor attack or the Battle of Midway 6 months later, but 2 Japanese ships shelled Midway.  First Lieutenant George Cannon was also killed that day, and became the first U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.  The story is in one of the photos below.

I've got more photos than usual, so I'll write more in the captions below.

This is the George H. Cannon Memorial in front of the building where he was mortally wounded.  He was the first U.S. Marine to recieve the Medal of Honor in World War II.  His story is engraved in the granite block below the U.S. flag and the U.S. Marine Corps flag (basically the same short story as in the next photo).

I left this photo at a little higher quality so you can double click on it and read a short summary of the attack on Midway and the George Cannon story.

We had the U.S. flag and the U.S. Navy flag at the Navy Memorial at half staff for Pearl Harbor Day.

I got up early for the lunar eclipse. It was cloudy for a lot of it, but it cleared up about 3:30 a.m. and I got a couple of photos.  The moon is just starting to come out of the total eclipse in this photo.

 The Kahana is bringing us more supplies.  It is still outside of the atoll in this photo.

Ann and Karen band a Black-footed albatross.  Most of the time we can put a band on them while they sit on the nest without having to pick them up.  We use a bucket lid to keep them from seeing the banding and from biting anything.

We brought our lunches over to Eastern Island so we didn't have to drive the boat back and forth.  Here's Ann, Nik, Karen, and an albatross.

The spinner dolphins came by to escort the boat on our way over to Eastern Island.

We decided to have a family style dinner at Capt. Brooks tavern.  We just carried our food over from the Clipper House. I won't introduce everyone around the table, but people who've been around recentlt may recognize a few faces.

 Here are a few convict tangs looking for food.  The water was really clear yesterday.  I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, and by ordinary I mean the usual amazing fish and coral.

Here are some nice reef fish from yesterday.  This (clockwise from the bright yellow one) is an oval butterflyfish, female spectacled parrotfish, ring tail surgeonfish, ornate butterflyfish, and a Hawaiian hogfish.

Here are two photos I took a couple of hours ago by putting my camera underwater from the boat.  I just randomly snapped the photos underwater.  I got about 6 or 7 decent ones out of 174.

Friday, December 9, 2011

‘Battleship’ movie: ‘Top Gun’ meets ‘Aliens’ meets ‘Crimson Tide’

Silver Screen Saucers

Upcoming board game adaptation promises “good old fashioned city destruction from flaming projectiles, alien ships and artificially induced earthquakes.”

Footage from Universal’s Battleship was previewed recently for a small gathering of journalists in Santa Monica, California. Among those present were's Scott Huver and Silas Lesnick. Here is some choice info from their interview with the movie’s director, Peter Berg...

Of Battleship’s inspiration / origin, Berg says:

"We were looking for a title and looking for something to do... 'Transformers' had come out and I was a huge fan of it, and I was starting to think about other brands and I was just thinking about 'Battleship,' as the son of a World War II historian and a naval fanatic - my father was all about ships and all about World War II battles... So, I went and talked to the guys at Hasbro. I said, 'I want to do a film about naval warfare, the modern navy.' They said, 'What's the story?' I said, 'I'm not sure what the story is, but I'll figure one out. But I'm your guy.' We were pitching it, for some reason they were like, 'Okay, you're our guy.' I was maybe the ONLY guy pitching it, or maybe the loudest guy, but I got it and started to kind of come up with a way of bringing in alien component to the film that I thought was credible."

Berg says that Universal wanted him to go into production as soon as possible:

"I was like, 'Right now?' I was planning on doing something else.' 'Right now. Can you do it?’ I'm a pretty competitive person and I was like, 'Of course I can do it.' They said, 'Are you sure?' I said, 'Of course I can do it.' They said, 'Anything that we can do for you we'll do. We'll help you as much as we can, or as little as you want us to.' I'm really happy with the way that it's coming together. I'm happy to bring you all on the ride."

Based on conversations with Battleship’s producer, Sarah Aubrey, explains that there are two major variations of aliens in the movie: “some are scientists and others are ‘Thugs,’ used as shock troops. As far as the design goes, think Halo's Master Chief, but larger and more mechanical.”

The journalists were also shown the new trailer for the movie (due for release in the very near future), which features “quite a bit of destruction on a Michael Bay scale, both at sea and on land... Overall, the new trailer does an excellent job at communicating a level of spectacle that fans may not have been expecting from the initial teaser, including land, sea and air combat as well as good old fashioned city destruction from flaming projectiles, alien ships and artificially induced earthquakes."

Berg also confirms that his movie has been produced with the full cooperation of the US Navy:

“We filmed a lot of real Navy ships, a lot of real sailors. We had Navy consultants all over our ships because they speak their own language, like, 'What would you do here? How would you ask for this information?' And they're real happy with that and I was really happy to be able to bring that kind of reality to it. Throughout it we maintain a real sense of this is how the Navy would react to this.”

Of his movie’s aliens, Berg says:

“Our aliens, again, are not so powerful that our weapons can't engage them. I mean, it takes a lot. They're hard to sink. We have to figure it out. Our radar can't see them. Their radar can't see us. We can't communicate with each other. We have some communication issues. But our weapons systems work. We have to figure out a way to make contact with the enemy without being able to see them by figuring out where we think they are which is a throwback to the game. But if we hit them properly with enough ordinance we can hurt them.

The aliens come from a planet that... has a similar geology, a similar environment, a similar temperature to ours. There's a resemblance. They're somewhat human. They're not machines. Most of them are actually quite intelligent. Most of the ones that come are more scientific. These are guys who are basically tasked with going and looking for other planets that might be of interest for a resource data point for them. So, these guys are super-intelligent. They're not that big. They're average height maybe, five-foot-eight, five-foot-nine. They're very worn. They've done this before. They've been to other planets. They've never encountered anything with quite as much resistance as us, but they've fought before and they're not inherently violent. If you meet him his interest is not to kill you. He's not really interested in you. He's just interested in the minerals and the resources of your planet. If you get in his way he'll kill you without prejudice, for the most part.”

Battleship hits cinemas May 18, 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Body-snatching aliens to invade big screen in 2013

Silver Screen Saucers reports that William Hurt is in talks to appear as the character of ‘Jeb’ in the upcoming adaptation of The Host – Stephanie Meyer’s 2008 science-fiction romance novel about alien entities (called “Souls”) who silently take over Earth by invading the minds of its inhabitants. The plot is officially described as follows:

“Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love."

The Host is to be directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War). It is scheduled for release March 29, 2013.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spielberg's 'E.T.' came close to being a horror

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

One of the world’s most beloved family films – E.T. The Extraterrestrial – was very nearly a nightmarish horror; this according to the film’s director Steven Spielberg, who recently told Entertainment Weekly of his 1982 classic:

"It was going to be called Night Skies, based on a piece of UFO mythology... where a farm family reported little spindly grey aliens attacking their farm, even riding cows in the farmyard. This farm family basically huddled together for survival... It's a story that's well-known in the world of ufology, and we based our script on that story."

Spielberg is, of course, referring to the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter of 1955, which is regarded as one of the most significant and bizarre UFO cases on record. It is also one of the best-documented.

Spielberg tells Entertainment Weekly that he even went so far as to hire legendary effects designer Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) to bring the impish Hopkinsville Kentucky aliens to life on the big screen, adding that E.T. only transformed into a family film when Harrison Ford's then-girlfriend Melissa Mathison came onboard to rewrite the screenplay. "Melissa didn't want to write it,” Spielberg says, “I needed Harrison and all of us to talk her into it."


Sunday, December 4, 2011


Our oldest known albatross is back this week.  "Wisdom" was banded in 1956 as a nesting adult and was estimated to be at least 5 years old at the time, so we say that she'll turn 61 this season.  She still looks exactly like all of the other birds.  We can't find any way to tell her apart from the young Laysan albatrosses.  Most of the Black-footed albatrosses have laid their eggs now, and the Laysan albatrosses are still laying them.

People around here are getting pretty chilly.  It was 64 this morning.  It has also been mostly windy and rainy for the last week, so normal winter weather is here.

If you haven't checked out Chris Jordan's Journey to midway page recently, it's worth looking at again.  He and his crew have posted a new video clip called, MIDWAY IV – A dream of a dying Albatross.  It's really well done.  Here's the site:

This is Wisdom on her egg.  It's only a couple of yards from her spot last year.  You can see there's a Bonin petrel burrow in the lower right corner of the photo that goes right under her nest.  The ground should be stable enough to hold the nest.

Most of the island population got out to say goodbye to John Hanna, the retiring DBSI (formerly Chugach) manager.  Don't pay any attention to that giant shadow right in the middle of the pic, ok?
The female Short-tailed albatross is taking her turn on the nest surrounded by Laysan and Black-footed albatross.

Anne and Karen are collecting beach trash in our Eastern Island marine debris plot that we check monthly.

This is Brackish Pond.  Which is a brackish water pond (hence the name) made by the Navy for non-potable water.  Those ironwood trees all died from the storm and tsunami washover, which bathed the trees in salt water for a couple of months.

The Thai King's birthday is tomorrow (Dec. 5), so it will be a holiday for the Thai workers.  Here's part of the holiday display that was put up in the Clipper House.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tom Cruise to star in back-to-back ET invasion flicks

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Sakurazaka's graphic novel
Variety reports that Tom Cruise has agreed to star in All You Need Is Kill – a big screen adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s graphic novel about a soldier in a future war against extraterrestrials known as ‘Mimics’ who finds himself stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop and is forced to relive his last day over and over again after being killed. With each new resurrection the soldier’s skill improves, giving him the chance to change not only his own fate, but that of humanity.

All you Need is Kill will be directed by Doug Liman for Warner Bros. Cruise is expected to start work on the movie in late 2012, making it an alien-packed year for the star. In March, Cruise will begin work on Universal’s Horizons – a $100 million sci-fi epic directed by TRON: Legacy helmer, Joseph Kosinski, adapted from his forthcoming graphic novel, Oblivion

Earlier this year, Variety said of Horizons:

"Cruise is set to star as Jack, a man who lives in the clouds above Earth and heads to its surface to repair drones that essentially keep the planet safe from an alien race that has all but wiped out humanity.

There are two key female characters -- Victoria, Jack's right-hand woman and lover who serves as his eyes and ears while he's on repair missions, and Julia, his fiancee on Earth before the alien invasion.”

Artwork from the forthcoming graphic novel Oblivion, on which the movie Horizons is to be based

Although All You Need Is Kill and Horizons share obvious narrative themes – and Tom Cruise as leading man – director Doug Liman has insisted that the two movies will be “completely different.”

Horizons is due for release in July of 2013; All You Need Is Kill will follow later in the same year or in early 2014.