Saturday, June 29, 2013

'Europa Report': the reviews and the science

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Europa Report – a blend of documentary, alternative history and science fiction thriller – has received generally positive reviews from critics following its June 27 release on VOD and iTunes, scoring 70% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter's moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa's icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean.

Veteran film critic Kirk Honeycutt is impressed with Europa Report, writing: “In this film, when an astronaut gazes out a portal at the infinity of space, you sense the amazement that fills his heart.”

Scott Weinberg of is also a fan, suggesting that Europa Report is “Maybe the best indie sci-fi film since Moon,” calling it “smart, suspenseful, and fascinating.”

io9’s Meredith Woerner was similarly enthusiastic, declaring that “Europa Report is hands down the most painstakingly accurate space movie we've seen in ages. You want some semblance of realism in the story of a three-year journey to Jupiter's Moon Europa? AND a gripping narrative, you got it.”

Witney Seibold of CraveOnlinewas slightly less enamored, noting that Europa Report’s “scientific accuracy leaves the film feeling a bit dry and procedural... but the heft and thrills are just enough to recommend it.”

Europa Report is released theatrically on August 2 this year. io9 recently conducted a fascinating interview with the film’s screenwriter, Philip Gelatt, in which the real science of the story is discussed in detail. Read it here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Aliens vs. robots short 'R'Ha' headed for Hollywood

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

The Hollywood Reporter has it that afeature-length expansion of the recent sci-fi short R’Ha is being developed by producers Rick McCallum (the Star Wars prequels) and Steve Tzirlin (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). The screenplay will be provided by Life on Mars creator Matthew Graham.

The feature film will follow an alien species, the R'Ha, and their quest to defend their race from an invading force. In its original six-minute form (below), R'Hacalls to mind Ancient Astronaut theory – its alien protagonist bearing more than a passing resemblance to depictions of the Egyptian sun god, Ra. The short film took its 22-year-old director Kaleb Lechowski seven months to create. Lechowski will also direct the feature adaptation.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Five UFO Movies You Missed in 2012

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

The Arrival of Wang received a limited theatrical release in 2012.
Today – June 25, 2013 – sees the launch of UFO Truth Magazine, a new Ezine edited by the UK’s Gary Heseltine. Issue 1 (which is free to download here), features an article by myself reviewing five little-known UFO/alien-themed movies from last year. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Last Post for June

It was another beautiful week.  A few days of rain for the native plants, and a bit of sun to finish off the week and some nice flat water for the boat.  There are a lot of eggs hatching this time of year, so I'll put up a couple of chick pictures. 
I'm going to be off island for a few weeks again and won't be posting anything, but I'll be back in mid-July to post more pictures for you.   
This is a view of Sand Island from the boat (the island we live on).  It's not very big, is it?  It's about 2 miles across from this view. 

This Red-tailed tropicbird chick lives right behind the office. 

This White tern chick on the Eastern Island pier hatched a couple of days ago.  Most of the time, the chicks on the pier are too exposed and don't make it.

A fishing net washed into the atoll and got stuck on the coral.  I'll go back this week and get it before a seal or turtle gets stuck in it.  There's too much coral to get the boat in there, so I'll have to bring the kayak to float it out.

A Hawaiian monk seal was checking us out while we were snorkeling.

It's always easier to get fish pictures when it's calm.  You don't scare them away as much by kicking.  These are whitebar surgeonfish and convict tangs.

The grass is starting to grow all over the island now that the adult albatrosses aren't around to keep it stomped down.  This is the old fuel farm.

Another shot using the "Dramatic" setting on my Olympus underwater camera.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

'The Spark': HBO to explore extraterrestrial contact in epic new series

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

HBO is moving into the sci-fi arena with an epic series exploring extraterrestrial contact. According to Deadline, The Spark, which is currently in development, “is set in a world undergoing a technological/industrial revolution in the near future when contacted by a signal from beyond the solar system. It centers on the human reaction to a mystery still spiritually and technologically out of reach and follows a female protagonist as she works on the cusp of the Earth’s effort to discover the origin of the signal.”

The man behind The Spark is Karl Gajdusek – creator/executive producer of ABC’s Last Resort series and co-writer of the Tom Cruise sci-fi, Oblivion. Gajdusek, who will write and executive produce The Spark, says his series will explore on a human level what he calls the five pillars of science fiction: “Alien Contact, Artificial Intelligence, Technological breakthroughs, Space Exploration/Adventure, and Origin Stories.”

Sounds great, but is this reminding everyone else of a certain 1985 Carl Sagan novel that became a certain 1997 Jodie Foster/Robert Zemeckis movie?

Contact – now sixteen years old – was arguably the last big-budget Hollywood production to demonstrate that the concept of entirely benevolent extraterrestrial contact can indeed rake-in the cash from satisfied cinemagoers. Here’s hoping that, like Contact, The Spark has the guts to shake ET’s hand, rather than blow it off with a bazooka and a one-liner.
Thanks to Rick MG at Daily Grail for the heads-up on this story.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

71st Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

It was the 71st Anniversary of the Battle of Midway this year.  We didn't have anyone fly in for this one, but we have really only had big ceremonies on the 5 year marks.  We had most of the island population out, as we did the week before on Memorial Day.  There wasn't that much else going on this week.  Without volunteers and visitors, all we do is work, and I try not to get too detailed about that.  Just the interesting stuff.
John Klavitter says a few words at the Battle of Midway Memorial on June 4.

 Sam made a few more flower arrangements for the memorial.

 I've been seeing the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins quite a bit lately on the trips to and from Eastern Island.
 This Masked booby was sitting on a nest on Eastern Island.  There are only about 2 or 3 nests a year at Midway.

 Another building shot.  This is the old Delta Barracks by the dining facility.

It's been cloudy a lot lately, so the sunsets over North Beach are nice when the clouds break a little.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

'Independence Day' director to tackle aliens again in 'Emergence'

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment has bought the rights to what Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr describes as “an alien invasion storycontaining hot-button science elements.” Titled Emergence, Centropolis will bring the story to the big screen as “a large scale contemporary science fiction film,” and Emmerich himself will direct. 

The pitch for Emergence was written by Nic Kelman, best known for his 2003 bestselling novel, Girls. Deadline points out that Kelman holds a Bachelor of Science from MIT and speculates that the writer’s scientific background will notably inform the plot for Emmerich’s film. “This [Emergence] falls into the latest trend encompassing films like the Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar, which melds narrative storytelling with grounded science theory.”

Quite what scientific angle Emergence will explore in relation to alien invasion is unclear at this point, though it may be notable that, while at MIT, Kelman majored in Brain and Cognitive Science. Does this mean we might see an alien movie finally getting to grips with the strong psychic aspects of alien encounters commonly reported by UFO witnesses? Time will tell, but not for a while yet as no release date has been announced. Expect 2015 at the earliest. In the meantime, Emmerich has two Independence Day sequels to deliver.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Memorial Day Photos

We had a nice Memorial Day Ceremony with most of the island population.  We'll have another ceremony for the Battle of Midway on June 4th.  There are no visitors coming out this year, so we'll just have island people again.  I know that the Navy is going to be having a commemoration at the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C. this week. 
Believe it or not, this is most of the island population right now.

One of the Thai employees, Sam, made this flower display and lei. 

These are 5 inch guns that are at the memorial.

I gave kayak training to a few people who haven't had it yet.  Penny, Liz, and Darren are flipping the kayaks to make sure they can get back in before they go out on their own.

The albatross chicks like the new air conditioning units at my house.

This White tern found an interesting spot for an egg.  Ric and Tim won't be able to use their hose for a couple of months.