The new 10 part Netflix series “Away” is about a real life trip to Mars and for the most part is about the reality of space travel of this magnitude and so many things that can go wrong. This series stars Hilary Swank as the commander of the spaceship that takes off from the moon and travel to Mars. During the trip to Mars, commander Emma Green, played by Swank and her crew encounter and then solve numerous problems life threatening problems. Some of them are solved by Green’s husband Matt Logon played by Josh Charles from Earth. I thought all of these problems were believable and the drama of finding solutions to each obstacle is one of the best parts of this 10 part series.
Many would argue that no woman who was married with a child would ever consider taking a trip to Mars that would take her away from her daughter and husband for years – one of the main areas of drama during this entire series. Over the last number of years, there have been people who have volunteered for trips to Mars, even under the condition where they would never be able to return. I have always wondered how long someone who made a decision like this, would have a huge change of heart after months and years in the middle of nowhere with no chance to ever return to earth. Before the United States or any other country can travel to Mars, thousands of problems and scenarios will have to be solved, starting with the human problems that will be the most challenging.
I thought both the science and the drama in this series was very well produced and acted and I am surprised at the relatively low 60% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, go figure. My rating for this series is a very solid 80% and I do recommend it.
The new movie “Kajillionaire” is for any person in the world, who thinks that being broke, heavily in debt or even being close to homeless is not a big deal. Not only is all of this a big deal, but for so many millions of people in the world, it can be a fate worse than death.
The story of Kajillionaire is about an older man and woman and their 20-something daughter who are on the outer fringes of living on the streets. They run scams, some of them very complex that involve faking lost luggage at the airport. They duck under a fence to avoid their landlord who is renting them a former small office room that leaks foam from a next door car wash. This film stretches to a highly unusual level of storytelling that in some areas barely make sense with storylines that in some ways seem connected but then drift away. Many times when I see movies that try so hard to be different – they do not work, but this movie works and for the most part well done.
Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins and Gina Rodriguez. This is movie is not a comedy, it is a dark drama about the harsh realities of life in this country for people with no money. Over time, people become desperate animals just to survive one day to the next – and all of this makes Kajillionaire a difficult story to watch. The acting is very solid throughout, with Rodgriguez character joining this group of 3 drifters in the middle of this story – a part of the story I found to be somewhat unbelievable.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Kajillionaire are a very high 88% but a very low 54% audience rating. I am more in the middle, around 72%, with a passing rating. This is not the great movie some of the critics are raving about because some parts of this story did fail and other areas are so disjointed that they do not seem to make sense. Trying to be unusual too often in any story can ruin the final production – the best recent example of this is the movie Tenet. Overall, I do recommend this movie for its stark and depressing reality of people living on the edge.
The reality of working for most companies, regardless of the field is the stress of “it has to be done yesterday”. “We lose money if this is late”. “Despite the poor planning, we still have this delivery date, that just has to be met, even though it is not possible”. All of this increases stress and reduces productivity.
Within my career in the Information Technology field I have had many instances where a deadline or a time frame for completing a task has been unreachable, mostly due to the inability to accurately combine a measurement of time with a complex task.
In the case of the Space Shuttle Challenger, that exploded during its launch on January 28, 1986, one would have thought that because of the 7 people involved, including a school teacher, that the corporate and very often insane “beat the clock” paradigm would not apply in this case. Of course the safety of the astronauts is always the first priority? Even worse in the case of Challenger, the problems with the O-Rings (that were rubber protective seals for the fuel tanks), were known for a long time before the Challenger exploded. Unfortunately it was also known that fixing the O-Ring problem could have taken a year or more to redesign and implement. So the cost and time of the redesign became much more important than the lives of 7 brilliant people.
The new Netflix 4 part series “Challenger The Final Flight” is about the years of corruption and mistakes that led to one of the worst tragedies in the history of the United States Space program. All that went wrong on that tragic day in January 1986 was not only known about but completely preventable. The Challenger tragedy was eventually found to be much worse because so many people knew that it was only a matter of time before one of the fuel tanks would leak and cause a huge explosion. On the day of the tragedy, it was too cold to launch – another red flag – so the entire launch should have been cancelled, but it wasn’t for political reasons. Nobody in charge cared enough about the 7 lives that were eventually going to be be lost. Pressure to meet a deadline and to avoid the loss of money should never be more important than human life. On January 28, 1986 – money won.
History would repeat itself on February 1, 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry due to a problem with the heat shield, that was also known about and preventable long before the accident.
The Netflix four part series Challenger The Final Flight is an outstanding documentary about one of the worst tragedies in American history and should be seen by everyone.