Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Flying a Plane on Another Planet

What If has a nice little article about the effects certain planets would have if you happened to be flying over them in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. And they do so with humour.

Most of the time you can pretty much guess what will happen (plane will be crushed by the atmosphere/intense gravity) however they still offer a nice summary of what you would expect to happen should you decide to try such an endeavour.

The most interesting is that Titan would appear to be a good place to fly a plane, so long as you don't mind freezing to death.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Trailer Time: Knights of Badassdom

It's been three years since we first heard of the new Joe Lynch film entitled Knights of Badassdom, and while the film has been finished for quite some time it has still yet to be released. Luckily it seems that Hollywood has not yet forgotten about it and has released a brand new trailer, suggesting that we may finally get to see it at some point this year.

It is very similar to the Comic-Con trailer that was shown back in 2010 however there is some new footage dotted around. They have also made sure to advertise that Danny Pudi is in this, obviously cashing in on his new-found cult status as Abed from Community.

The film itself follows a group of Live Action Role Players (LARPers) who accidentally summon a real live demon and must find a way to kill it and stars Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn) and Summer Glau (Firefly).

New to Netflix UK - 28/01/13

There doesn't seem to be too many additions since last week. Only three new titles worth looking for.

Muppets From Space (1999) - We finally learn the truth behind Gonzo's origins. It's one of the weaker entries in the Muppet films but it's still the Muppets, so what's not to love.

Catch a Fire (2006) - After a violent raid on his home by the government, a man turns to terrorism. An intellectual and well made political thriller that offers some interesting views on apartheid in South Africa.

Route Irish (2010) - A private contractor heads to Iraq to find the truth behind the death of a friend. Ken Loach turns his critical eye on the conflict in Iraq to give us a fully realised conspiracy thriller that stays loong after it's finished.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Trailer Time: L'écume des Jour (AKA Mood Indigo)

Michel Gondry is back with another film that looks to be as unique and quirky as his pre-Green Hornet stint. Currently there is only a French version of the trailer however it is more of a visual experience anyway.

The gist of the story is that Colin (Romain Duris - The Beat That My Heart Skipped) finally meets the girl of his dreams Chloë (Audrey Tautou - Amelie) only for her to be stricken with a life-threatening illness where a water lily grows in her lungs. The only cure is to surround her in flowers and Colin finds that his life begins to spiral as he attempts to juggle both his home and work life to make ends meet.

The film is based on the cult classic book Froth of the Daydream by Boris Vian, which is actually how the French title translates. The English title appears to refer to the jazz composition by Duke Ellington, for which I assume will have a purpose or meaning in the film.

The film opens in France at the end of April this year so it may not hit UK shores until mid-summer.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Future Armour Designs to Take a Cue From Medieval Knights and Fish

Back in the olden days, the quality of a soldiers armour played a very important factor in their survival rate. As time progressed and weaponry advanced, melee combat turned to ranged combat and the use of armour was scrapped as mobility became the key to survival. It wasn't until the second half of the twentieth century that body armour became fashionable once more, however this was in part due to advances in material engineering and the use of high quality ceramics that were both light and able to withstand impact from high velocity projectiles.

The sole problem is that the armour was still restricted to mobility therefore modern armour tends to only cover the torso area, allowing for the legs and arms to function without hindrance. While there's no doubt the torso is one of the most important parts of the body to protect (second to the head) many fatalities can still occur from extremity shots or from bullets penetrating the armour from the side.

Researchers seam to have a fix for this problem and they have managed to solve it by revisiting the armour as worn by soldiers in the medieval ages. Scale armour allowed for people to move however their actions were severely limited due to the weight of the iron or steel plating and thus soldiers lucky enough to wear the suits had to be very skilled and strong. The idea is to replicate the use of scales but with modern composite ceramics, the idea being that movement limitation will be kept to a minimum.

The main inspiration for the design appears to come from the Gray Bichir (or 'Dragon Fish') a creature that has been around for close to 100 million years. Although an adept hunter, the main reason for it's survival has been largely thanks to its tough scaly exoskeleton. The fish itself has a very fluid-like motion when it moves through the water and as a result its scales have adapted to prevent any restriction in its movement. By using a similar design, the researchers hope to develop a prototype that will allow a person to be completely shielded but function as they would on a day-to-day basis.

Apparently the prototype, while completely feasible, is still some way off but they hope that it could one day replace the kevlar vests currently seeing action on the front-lines.

[via New Scientist]

Trailer Time: Inside Llewyn Davis

The trailer for the new Coen Brother's movie has surfaced and it's embedded below for all your watching pleasure.

It's been three years since we've had a Coen brother movie (I'm counting from True Grit rather than Gambit) and expectations are pretty high for this drama about a song writer who navigates his life through the 1960's folk scene. Gathering from the what the trailer shows us, I don't think we will be disappointed.

The acting looks top notch, with Ms Mulligan seemingly taking on a pretty bitchy and unlikable character, and it's nice to see Oscar Isaac in a leading role. In terms of Coen regulars, the only face present appears to be Mr Goodman which again suggests we may be in for a rather different film than what we are normally used to seeing. My only one disappointment is that this appears to be a full on drama, without any room for dark/light comedy that the brothers are famous for.

The release date for the US is 8th February but it doesn't appear to be hitting European shores until the end of the year. I'm guessing they may be having a limited run before releasing it again at the end of the year in time for the Oscar season.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Has Star Wars Episode VII Finally Found it's Leader?

Despite previously dispelling rumours, it seems that JJ Abrams may be actually be the new Master of the Force. Deadline have reported that it appears to be a done deal whereas elsewhere sources are claiming it's close to being sealed.

There's no doubt that Abrams is suited for the job, having successfully rebooted the Star Trek series, but is he biting off more than he can chew? All the things that made Star Trek great wouldn't necessarily work for Star Wars and personally I would rather have him stay with the Enterprise than have him venturing in a galaxy far far away.

We also have to hope that Star Trek Into Darkness is actually good (I very much doubt it can be anything else) but if it turns out to be another Spiderman 3, Episode VII will have a lot of negativity before it's even started. (To be fair, Zack Snyder took a lot of flak over Sucker Punch but that never stopped anyone from counting the days to Man of Steel).

Hola - Bringing the World Closer

A new add-on for Chrome and Firefox called Hola is attempting to revolutionise the way the internet works by making it faster by accelerating HTTP. One of the best side effects of this is that it sort of censors your location which means you can access a wide variety of sites and content that are geographically restricted. The best thing about it, it's completely free.

This means you can now access the US version of Netflix with a UK account, and wow is it different. I spent close to an hour going through the content and I was very impressed with what I saw (and am now somewhat disappointed by the UK version). Content-wise there's a great deal more TV shows, including some which haven't made it to our side of the pond, as well as many new releases. People with young children will also be interested to know that there are a selection of Disney movies available (including Dumbo, The Aristocats and one of my favourites Basil The Great Mouse Detective). I was pleased to see that there was a lot of British stuff available, including The Vicar of Dibley and Space.

Obviously this feature is only available through your computer which means you can't access the 'HD on your TV feature' but for the most part it's a pretty nice addition.

Hola is currently in Beta which means changes may occur in the future that would restrict certain features but for the time being, it is one of the nicest things to happen in a while.

Check it out at hola.org

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got 13 seasons of King of the Hill to plough through.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Be 'Bored to Death' at the Cinema

After trundling along for three seasons, HBO's Bored to Death TV series was finally cancelled. For many people this didn't mean anything as the show had a very small audience yet it still enjoyed a moderate cult status with those who appreciated what it could offer.

The show follows writer Jonathan Ames as he moonlights as an unlicensed private detective, normally aided by his dimwitted best friend and stoner boss. Although it had the makings of being a by-the-book case-a-week show, it managed to evolve into something much different by focusing more on the characters than the bizarre situations they would find themselves in.

It is with good news however that the shows creator/lead writer (also called Jonathan Ames) has announced that he is working on a feature length script. It is still unconfirmed as to whether the movie will actually be made but it's always a good sign when the screenplay is commissioned. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to see what crazy antics Jonathan, Ray and George get up to.

[via Hollywood Reporter]

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Meteor Mining is a Go for 2015

[Update] I've uploaded a post that's a more in-depth look at the basics of mining in space

Remember a while back when there was that company that said they were going to mine asteroids for valuable resources? A company that attracted big big names such as James Cameron and Larry Page to back it? Well apparently they have now decided that that day will be in 2015, when they hope to launch the first space mining crafts, the Firefly series. Despite being named after that one class of ship from that moderately popular sci-fi show, the design is unfortunately not as awesome as the Serenity but instead resembles a large cuboid (a practical design but not very futuristic).

The company, Deep Space Industries, hope that by 2015 the crafts will begin prospecting suitable meteors while 2020 will mark the actual mining operation.

[Deep Space Industries via io9)

Monday, 21 January 2013

RIP: Michael Winner

British-born director Michael Winner has sadly passed away. Winner was responsible for many Oliver Reed films, most notably The Jokers, as well as the Robert Mitchum remake of The Big Sleep and the cult horror film The Sentinel. Most famously he will be remembered as the director of Death Wish, the Charles Bronson revenge classic that to this day still inspires re-imaginings and remakes.

The BBC have a nice obituary dedicated to him.

[via BBC]

New to Netflix UK - 21/01/13

Some new and noteworthy titles to the Netflix UK catalogue.

A Few Good Men (1992) - Military courtroom drama where a young lawyer defending two murderers discovers that the case may extend to the top of the command chain. It's one of the better examples of the this-case-is-bigger-than-we-thought type of films with Tom Cruise on top form as the young lawyer.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) - The Banksy documentary by Banksy that may or may not be real. A divisive film but worth the watch if you have any interest in the notorious graffiti artist.

Scent of a Woman (1992) - A blind ex-army officer takes his new carer to New York for one last shot at having a good time before committing suicide. The film is a little too smug for it's own good at times but it's still highly watchable thanks to Mr Pacino giving one of his best roles in his career.

The Experiment (2010) - American remake of the German film based on the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, where normal men role-play as prisoners and guards and things spiral out of control. It has Adrian Brody in it but otherwise you may be better off tracking down the original.

The Karate Kid III (1989) - An old rival returns to face the Karate Kid and Mr Miyagi. The quality falls pretty dramatically with every sequel however for some reason people still claim the third to be a good movie.

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) - The late Sidney Pollack documents the life and work of one of his best friends, the architect Frank Gehry. It's an affectionate documentary and an insightful look at the man who is considered as one of the greatest architects of the modern world.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Brass Teapot Trailer

It's a movie about a teapot that makes you money when you feel pain. What's not to love?

Starring Juno Temple and Michael Angarano.

See Lance Doping on the Big Screen

It had to happen sooner or later, but Deadline are reporting that Paramount and JJ Abrams have scooped up the rights to the as-yet unpublished book about the Lance Armstrong scandal.

Expect plenty of lens flares from the lights reflecting off those hypo-needles.

The Future of Building Demolition

I feel sorry for civil engineers who end up working on buildings. They spend years creating the perfect structure only for future generations to decide it's not good enough and tear it down to start from scratch. The problem is, how do you disassemble a building? Certainly the most common way is with a heap load of explosives however this can prove to be rather risky and dangerous as many Youtube fail videos have proven.

The future is upon us however as a Japanese construction firm, the Taisei Corporation, has decided that they will demolish their buildings one floor at a time, as is happening with the ex-Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka. According to NewScientist the whole affair has been designed to be as ecologically friendly as possible.

The process involves lowering the roof into the building via the use of jacks as each of the floors are taken apart one by one, allowing for many of the building's construction resources to be recycled. As the fragments of each floor are lowered to the ground via cranes, they generate electricity allowing for the company to cut back on an estimated 85% of CO2 emissions that would have otherwise been produced by oil and gas driven motors. They've even thought of a way to prevent dust particles from entering the surrounding air by covering the top floors in a protective jacket.

The drawback is that the process itself appears to be fairly time consuming, with the 140m tall building expected to be fully gone by May this year, though it could be argued that this is a fair compromise based on the reduced environmental implications the method imposes.

It all looks pretty good in practice but there's no mention of the financial benefits. One would assume on one hand, that this method would be cheaper based on the reduced power need and the fact they can reuse as much of the original building as possible but on the other hand the time needed for this method would also increase labor costs.

So is this the future? It's certainly an appealing alternative and a pretty neat idea but it does lack the thrill of watching an explosion take the building out.