The lost city – a review

For a long time, I had a number of favorite actresses whose films I would never miss.

Meg Ryan
Sandra Bullock
Julia Stiles
Jeri Ryan

With Covid restricting everything movie-related, it has been a long, long time since anyone had been in a movie.

Meg Ryan by all accounts has disappeared, and after Riviera, I’ve patiently been waiting for the next Julia Stiles project. This is coming in June this year. Jeri Ryan has returned to star in Star Trek Picard, which has been keeping me entertained.

But with the possibility of seeing Sandra Bullock in TV series very remote, it’s been a long wait for the next feature, and after a few earlier release dates that didn’t happen, it finally made it.

And filled with enthusiasm, driven by the promo I was hoping for great things.

OK, the first few minutes are not exactly attention-grabbing, unless you’re attracted to wig-wearing book cover models acting strangely, or expect a middle-aged woman would want to wear a pink glittery jumpsuit to a serious interview.

Unless there was a reason, and I missed it.

However, that puzzlement is over once we’re introduced to the nice bad guy, a brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliffe, who certainly is no longer Harry Potter, and thank God for that.

From that point on, while definitely forgetting about pink jumpsuits or stereotyping book cover models, we join the ride.

There are a few leaps of faith, like her being almost an archaeologist in her own right, something not made very clear, but it’s forgivable because you need to have a few unexpected things coming out of left field to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I won’t say the end was like those that other famous or infamous archeologists conjured up being surrounded by Nazis and other assorted bad guys, but seeing the nice but evil Radcliff being dragged away was good enough.

As for the inevitable treasure that is expected to be found, well, there is a treasure, but what it is will surprise you.

The lost city – a review

For a long time, I had a number of favorite actresses whose films I would never miss.

Meg Ryan
Sandra Bullock
Julia Stiles
Jeri Ryan

With Covid restricting everything movie-related, it has been a long, long time since anyone had been in a movie.

Meg Ryan by all accounts has disappeared, and after Riviera, I’ve patiently been waiting for the next Julia Stiles project. This is coming in June this year. Jeri Ryan has returned to star in Star Trek Picard, which has been keeping me entertained.

But with the possibility of seeing Sandra Bullock in TV series very remote, it’s been a long wait for the next feature, and after a few earlier release dates that didn’t happen, it finally made it.

And filled with enthusiasm, driven by the promo I was hoping for great things.

OK, the first few minutes are not exactly attention-grabbing, unless you’re attracted to wig-wearing book cover models acting strangely, or expect a middle-aged woman would want to wear a pink glittery jumpsuit to a serious interview.

Unless there was a reason, and I missed it.

However, that puzzlement is over once we’re introduced to the nice bad guy, a brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliffe, who certainly is no longer Harry Potter, and thank God for that.

From that point on, while definitely forgetting about pink jumpsuits or stereotyping book cover models, we join the ride.

There are a few leaps of faith, like her being almost an archaeologist in her own right, something not made very clear, but it’s forgivable because you need to have a few unexpected things coming out of left field to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I won’t say the end was like those that other famous or infamous archeologists conjured up being surrounded by Nazis and other assorted bad guys, but seeing the nice but evil Radcliff being dragged away was good enough.

As for the inevitable treasure that is expected to be found, well, there is a treasure, but what it is will surprise you.

A photograph from the inspirational bin- 34

This is the moon, unexpectedly observable in the late afternoon.

For me, the moon provided inspiration for an episodic story I have entitled, for now, ‘I always wanted to see the planets’.

It’s about a freighter captain who gets a gig as First Officer on an exploratory starship, who by a series of inexplicable events gets promoted to captain, and has to navigate not only the outer reaches of space, but new species.

But in the back of my mind there is that expression ‘shoot for the moon’, which could mean almost anything.

It could mean going for the unobtainable, whether it be a job, or the partner of your dreams. Failing can be heartbreak. Success might mean you’d be ‘over the moon’.

Them there’s travelling to moon, perhaps the next logical step for regular people, heading off the spend a week on a moon base hotel. I’m not sure what we would see out there in space; Perhaps a UFO?

Fictionalised, a moon base might just be the meeting place for various species, and being the mystery writer I am, what if there was a murder?

As always, the possibilities are endless.

‘Jungle Cruise’ – a review

Having gone on several of the Disney rides in locations other than in the US, I had no first-hand knowledge of what it might be like.

That aside, I have had a wealth of old movie viewing to fuel my imagination for what to expect, and those experiences didn’t let me down. Hollywood’s vision of the jungle has not changed much in the last 50 odd years.

And, with the Humphrey Bogart classic, The African Queen, firmly planted in the back of my mind, and this latest venture set in the same period, I was ready for anything the jungle could throw at me.

In this outing, the premise is a treasure hunt, not for actual treasure, but a life saving flower that grows on a tree somewhere in the jungle. Adventurers have been seeking it for many centuries, including a hapless expedition of Spaniards.

It was, as it should be, the stuff of legends.

We have all the usual suspects, man eating natives, poison darts, killer creatures including lots of snakes (and I hate snakes), rapids and waterfalls. And, yes, there’s the boat being saved at the last second from going over the edge. I had to wonder if that was a ‘feature’ of the ride in reality.

Visually, the jungle never looked better. If indeed, it was the actual jungle.

Like ‘The Mummy’ there is the hapless brother providing the comic light relief, and, I have to say, he did it quite well.

There is the strong willed, self-sufficient woman ready to face any danger, well, just about everything, except for one simple fear, for which it seems all superheroes have that makes them human.

And the fact she wears pants is the running gag.

Then there’s the Skipper, not the captain, of the boat, who needs no introduction. Oddly though, he drives the boat like it’s an instalment of Fast and Furious. And for those who remember a kangaroo called Skippy, will not be surprised by the heroines retort when he calls her ‘pants’.

Of course, it would not be as exciting if there wasn’t the archetypal baddie and being set around the time of the first world war, it had to be a German who is seeking the ‘prize’ in order to win the war for Germany. It was played with just about the right amount of dripping menace.

For light-hearted entertainment, and one of the better two hours I’ve spent in a movie theatre, there are, surprisingly, a few twists and turns you don’t expect.

Then there is an obvious rapport between the two leads, sometimes missing in stories like these, but their relationship didn’t get in the way of reaching the satisfactory conclusion.

All in all, it was one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen in a while, one where at the end, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps it will be like Pirates of the Caribbean, and we’ll get to go on another ‘cruise’.

A photograph from the inspirational bin- 34

This is the moon, unexpectedly observable in the late afternoon.

For me, the moon provided inspiration for an episodic story I have entitled, for now, ‘I always wanted to see the planets’.

It’s about a freighter captain who gets a gig as First Officer on an exploratory starship, who by a series of inexplicable events gets promoted to captain, and has to navigate not only the outer reaches of space, but new species.

But in the back of my mind there is that expression ‘shoot for the moon’, which could mean almost anything.

It could mean going for the unobtainable, whether it be a job, or the partner of your dreams. Failing can be heartbreak. Success might mean you’d be ‘over the moon’.

Them there’s travelling to moon, perhaps the next logical step for regular people, heading off the spend a week on a moon base hotel. I’m not sure what we would see out there in space; Perhaps a UFO?

Fictionalised, a moon base might just be the meeting place for various species, and being the mystery writer I am, what if there was a murder?

As always, the possibilities are endless.

I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 21

There’s no swashbuckling for the captain

I turned, and saw what appeared to be a relatively unkempt man standing behind me.

Jerome Kennedy. Astro physicist.  A man who was mocked rather than revered for his theories on space, and in particular, space travel.

And those theories were, to put it mildly, interesting.

It was probably why the Admiral conscripted him for this voyage into the unknown.

“I though that was only in the imagination of television script writers.”

“Possibly, but we just witnessed something that none of us can rationally explain.  One minute they were there, the next, poof.”

“That’s why you are along for the ride, to find explanations for the unexplainable.  I look forward to your report.”  Then, turning back to the navigator, “are we still in touch with the original alien vessel?”

“Just, and still heading towards Uranus.”

“Then let’s get after it, maximum speed when possible.”

I left the newly promoted number one in charge and went into the captains day room.  I was still getting used to the idea of actually bring captain, because the aura of previous inhabitant of this room was still there.  And it felt like he was in the room watching everything I did.

I shook my head, as if that would cast off the jitters I felt, and sat down behind the imposing desk, one thathad been made over a hundred years before, and from a vessel with the same name. 

I still didn’t have a lot to put in any report to the Admiral, but had a lot to think about.

I brought up the navigation screen and looked at the suggested path from where we were to Uranus, and the time it would take.

There was a buzzing sound, and a face appeared on my screen.  It was the Captain’s personal assistant for want of a better name, Louise Chalmers, an ex Lieutenant Colonel from the military, but not by much.  She had retired into this position, and, I suspect, another was for the military to keep up to date on the Captain’s decisions.

“Come in.”

The door opened, she came in, and it closed behind her.  There was no open door policy on this ship.

“Sir.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I’m not sure if you are aware, but I am here to serve whomever the current Captain is, and since Captain V is not here, that would be you in his stead.”

I had read that she was his choice for P A, and that it was a personal matter, as usually Captains didn’t have such staff members.

“I thought you were on board to serve only the previous captain “

“Not so.  If you read standing order 207615, you will realise my position was ratified as general crew member, serving the ship rather than an individual.  My job is to make your job easier.”

While she was speaking, I fetched the standing orders, and the one she referred, and a quick scan proved such to be the case.

“In what way?”

“Paperwork, the vane of any officers existence I’m told, and to organise all activities of a non urgent nature, like bring the daily reports to you.”

I knew that captain had to be appraised of everything that happened on board, just not every day.

“I take it you have the reports?”

“I have, and unfortunately, as per regulations, I have to make sure you have received them.  Your predecessor wanted me to summarise.  I can do the same for you.”

There would be no escaping it.  “Please.”

© Charles Heath 2021

I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 20

Just what do you talk to aliens about?

We were standing off the two ships, each about half the size of our ship.

I wondered briefly if the people on board were thinking the same as us.

What were the people like, friendly or hostile, what weapons the other had, and what technology?  We knew they could board us, by beaming in combatants, so I’d sent the third officer to organize the security team and other crew members to spread out through the ship and keep an eye out for boarders.

At the very least they knew we couldn’t send people over to their ships.

I walked over to the communications officer’s console where the communication expert sat, waiting.

“Can we broadcast a message so the other ship can hear us?”

“Assuming they understand any or all of the 32 languages we can convert any message to.”

And, if I read the crew briefing note on her correctly, she could speak fluently in every one of them.  Just, perhaps, not alien, but up till now, she didn’t have to.

“The last one I spoke to understood me just fine.”

“Very good.  Just speak when you are ready.  We’re transmitting now.”

I went back to stand in front of the Captain’s chair though I was not sure why.  I took a moment to consider what I should say, then proceeded with, “This is the commanding officer of the Earth space ship “Nautilus” hailing the two ships nearby.  We are following the vessel that kidnapped two of our crew members.  We have no quarrel with you, and this being the case, we will be proceeding with our pursuit forthwith.”

I put my hand up to indicate the message was done.

“Are systems online and ready to go?” I said in the direction of the helmsman who, like the rest of the crew, were looking at me.  Why I wasn’t sure.

The helmsman replied, “Ready when you are.”

I was going to give the alien ships five minutes, then leave.  They were either going to board us, or shoot at us, or maybe just let us go.

I looked at the military specialist.  “I assume we can retaliate if they start shooting at us?”

“It’s possible if they don’t hit any vital parts of the ship.”

It was a rather sardonic reply, or maybe that was her usual tone.  I didn’t get time to reflect on it.

“You might want to reconsider that plan, Earth ship Nautilus.”

It was an accented version of English, British perhaps, but very precise, and most likely the result of a translator.

“Who am I speaking to?”

“You may call me the commanding officer of my spaceship. 

“Are you with the people who kidnapped my crew members?”

There was silence, a period where I assumed they were considering a response.  Then, “I am not sure what you mean by with but were are of the same people, yes, but the one you speak of is not like us.  We have been seeking them as you appear to be, but for different reasons.”

“So why are here, impeding our progress, if you are not helping them?”

“We wanted to see who they have mistreated, and what they have done.  This is not the first time they have ventured into uncharted space.”

“Where have you come from?”

“Several thousands of what you call light-years away, in a system similar to yours, only each of the planets have a different people.  The people who have taken your crew come from one of the planets who are looking for weapons to fight a war they are losing.”

“Then I think you people are in a great deal of trouble.  They have also stolen a shipment of plutonium, which if they know what they’re doing, can be used to make bombs that can render a place unliveable for thousands of what we call years.  Believe me when I say it’s a very long time.”

“Nuclear bombs?”

“You’ve heard of them?”

“In a roundabout way.  You should know we are currently chasing the people who did this, and we are here to advise against you proceeding with your rescue mission.  The people you are chasing have a vastly superior ship, and weapons than you, as I suspect your ship is to you, a marvel, but to us, about a hundred of your earth years behind us.  We always believed your differences with your fellow humans would always hinder your space programs to the point where Mars would be the furthest you could travel.”

“You should realize we are out there on the very edge of our galaxy ready to find new ones.”

“That we cannot stop.  But I give you this warning, not everyone out there is ready to accept new people from other planets or systems.  And they are all more technologically advanced.”

Nothing surprising there.

“We’re still going out there, danger withstanding.”

“Be that on your head.  I suggest, however, that you do not follow those who have taken your crew members.  We will take care of them, and return your people in due course.”

“Thanks for the warning, but we do not abandon our people.”

“Then don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Then, before our eyes, the two ships left, or that is to say, disappeared into a bright light that lasted a few seconds before the inky black returned.

“What just happened,” I said before I realized I’d said it out loud.

A voice from behind said, in reply, “I believe they disappeared into what might be described as a wormhole.”

© Charles Heath 2021

‘Jungle Cruise’ – a review

Having gone on several of the Disney rides in locations other than in the US, I had no first-hand knowledge of what it might be like.

That aside, I have had a wealth of old movie viewing to fuel my imagination for what to expect, and those experiences didn’t let me down. Hollywood’s vision of the jungle has not changed much in the last 50 odd years.

And, with the Humphrey Bogart classic, The African Queen, firmly planted in the back of my mind, and this latest venture set in the same period, I was ready for anything the jungle could throw at me.

In this outing, the premise is a treasure hunt, not for actual treasure, but a life saving flower that grows on a tree somewhere in the jungle. Adventurers have been seeking it for many centuries, including a hapless expedition of Spaniards.

It was, as it should be, the stuff of legends.

We have all the usual suspects, man eating natives, poison darts, killer creatures including lots of snakes (and I hate snakes), rapids and waterfalls. And, yes, there’s the boat being saved at the last second from going over the edge. I had to wonder if that was a ‘feature’ of the ride in reality.

Visually, the jungle never looked better. If indeed, it was the actual jungle.

Like ‘The Mummy’ there is the hapless brother providing the comic light relief, and, I have to say, he did it quite well.

There is the strong willed, self-sufficient woman ready to face any danger, well, just about everything, except for one simple fear, for which it seems all superheroes have that makes them human.

And the fact she wears pants is the running gag.

Then there’s the Skipper, not the captain, of the boat, who needs no introduction. Oddly though, he drives the boat like it’s an instalment of Fast and Furious. And for those who remember a kangaroo called Skippy, will not be surprised by the heroines retort when he calls her ‘pants’.

Of course, it would not be as exciting if there wasn’t the archetypal baddie and being set around the time of the first world war, it had to be a German who is seeking the ‘prize’ in order to win the war for Germany. It was played with just about the right amount of dripping menace.

For light-hearted entertainment, and one of the better two hours I’ve spent in a movie theatre, there are, surprisingly, a few twists and turns you don’t expect.

Then there is an obvious rapport between the two leads, sometimes missing in stories like these, but their relationship didn’t get in the way of reaching the satisfactory conclusion.

All in all, it was one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen in a while, one where at the end, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps it will be like Pirates of the Caribbean, and we’ll get to go on another ‘cruise’.

‘Jungle Cruise’ – a review

Having gone on several of the Disney rides in locations other than in the US, I had no first-hand knowledge of what it might be like.

That aside, I have had a wealth of old movie viewing to fuel my imagination for what to expect, and those experiences didn’t let me down. Hollywood’s vision of the jungle has not changed much in the last 50 odd years.

And, with the Humphrey Bogart classic, The African Queen, firmly planted in the back of my mind, and this latest venture set in the same period, I was ready for anything the jungle could throw at me.

In this outing, the premise is a treasure hunt, not for actual treasure, but a life saving flower that grows on a tree somewhere in the jungle. Adventurers have been seeking it for many centuries, including a hapless expedition of Spaniards.

It was, as it should be, the stuff of legends.

We have all the usual suspects, man eating natives, poison darts, killer creatures including lots of snakes (and I hate snakes), rapids and waterfalls. And, yes, there’s the boat being saved at the last second from going over the edge. I had to wonder if that was a ‘feature’ of the ride in reality.

Visually, the jungle never looked better. If indeed, it was the actual jungle.

Like ‘The Mummy’ there is the hapless brother providing the comic light relief, and, I have to say, he did it quite well.

There is the strong willed, self-sufficient woman ready to face any danger, well, just about everything, except for one simple fear, for which it seems all superheroes have that makes them human.

And the fact she wears pants is the running gag.

Then there’s the Skipper, not the captain, of the boat, who needs no introduction. Oddly though, he drives the boat like it’s an instalment of Fast and Furious. And for those who remember a kangaroo called Skippy, will not be surprised by the heroines retort when he calls her ‘pants’.

Of course, it would not be as exciting if there wasn’t the archetypal baddie and being set around the time of the first world war, it had to be a German who is seeking the ‘prize’ in order to win the war for Germany. It was played with just about the right amount of dripping menace.

For light-hearted entertainment, and one of the better two hours I’ve spent in a movie theatre, there are, surprisingly, a few twists and turns you don’t expect.

Then there is an obvious rapport between the two leads, sometimes missing in stories like these, but their relationship didn’t get in the way of reaching the satisfactory conclusion.

All in all, it was one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen in a while, one where at the end, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps it will be like Pirates of the Caribbean, and we’ll get to go on another ‘cruise’.

So, it’s the new year

I just watched America ring in the new year.

15 hours after we did here in Brisbane.  It was, if anything, a non event.  Covid put paid to anything as lavish as it had been in the past.  It reminded me of thetwo times we were in New York for New Year’s Eve and the first time we couldn’t get near tTimes Square, and saw the ball drop in Central Park, and the second, in a Times Square hotel not far from the action.

This year we saw it on TV.  Oh, hang on, the TV coverage didn’t cover the ball drop.  What the?

But not to put too fnei a point to it, I didn’t really miss it.  Notthere, and not here.

Any other year?  Perhaps.

Two years ago we were in Lake Louise in Canada, and it was amazing to say the least.  The Fairmont hotel had been setting up for it all day, right down to watching a hoard of staff trying to put together the portable dance floor, and later, when exiting the restaurant, watching the crowded hoards dancing to their own music.  Or so it appeared.

We dined in the restarant, and it was a magic night of dining, in a magical setting.

Just saying that I don’t think that New Years Eve will be topped in what might be the rest of my lifetime.

This year, nothing.  I was up writing, and on the dot of midnight there was 15 seconds of fireworks.

We usually watch Sydney’s New Year’s Eve party and the fifteen to twenty minutes of fireworks after, but Covid put paid to that too.

Ten or so years ago, when imbibed with more enthusiasm, we went to a club on the border between Queensland and New South Wales where one had daylight saving and the other didn’t.   It was fun to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice, but not when we went back to the motel and discovered, after a rain deluge, all our rooms had sprung leaks and everything was wet.

The days of those adventures are more.

I’ve got used to staying in five and six star accommodation, but now we have retired and the income doesn’t match the lifestyle we used to have.

And with Covid always lurking in those dark corners waiting to pounce when least expected, I’m guessing my 2021 will be much the same as 2020, in isolation until we get a vaccine and the idiots finally realise they’re dicing with death, ours not theirs.

Still, it could be worse.

But, despire the glass half empty attitude, I hope everyone else has a happy new year and a much better 2021.