As far back as last summer, when pilots for the current television season were floating around, a quirky sci-fi show for NBC called Awake caught our eye as the best of the lot. Camouflaged in a standard procedural cop show is an ambitious neuroscience concepta man living in two simultaneous dream worlds, either of which (or neither of which) could be real. We got a look at the first four episodes of the show, which lay a nice foundation for the many thought-provoking questions that will be addressed. We review them here, as well as answering some questions of our own about the sleep science behind the show with UCLA sleep expert Dr. Alon Avidan. Continue reading REVIEW: Wide ‘Awake’: New Sci-Fi Series Takes on Sleep Science→
Read through any archive of science fiction movies, and you quickly realize that the merger of pop culture and science dates as far back as the dawn of cinema in the early 1920s. Even more surprising than the enduring prevalence of science in film is that the relationship between film directors, scribes and the science advisors that have influenced their works is equally as rich and timeless. Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema (2011, MIT Press), one of the most in-depth books on the intersection of science and Hollywood to date, serves as the backdrop for recounting the history of science and technology in film, how it influenced real-world research and the scientists that contributed their ideas to improve the cinematic realism of science and scientists. For a full ScriptPhD.com review and in-depth extended discussion of science advising in the film industry, please click the “continue reading” cut.
“Don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anyone.” The austere slogan of the new film Contagion mirrors the gripping subject matter of the latest addition to the pandemic disaster movie club. One of the most science-oriented films to be released in the last few years, Contagion follows the path of several scientists, public health workers, and ordinary citizens as a full-fledged pandemic breaks out from an unknown virus. It explores scientific, moral, social and ethical questions for how we would prepare as a modern society if such a tragedy ever struck us. Additionally, Contagion is a cinematic ode to the visual and technical wonders of modern science, on full display here, both in the storyline and the beatifully-designed sets and costumes. For a full ScriptPhD review, including information on the behind-the-scenes science consultants that worked with the film’s producers to create scientific realism, click “continue reading” below. Continue reading REVIEW: Contagion→
About a year ago, a little publicized, unheralded documentary named Mountaintop Removal (which ScriptPhD.com reviewed) attempted to deconstruct the environmentally devastating practice of the same name literally destroying the Appalachian geography of West Virginia’s coal river valley. Honest, yet modestly shot and produced, the small-scale documentary needed a Hollywood touch to resonate on a human level to advance its powerful cause. It got what it needed in The Last Mountain, a celebrated selection of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. This important new documentary succeeds in both relaying the urgency of a destructive coal mining practice that is literally zoning in on one last undamaged mountain as well as forging a human connection with the townspeople battling to save it. Full ScriptPhD.com review under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: The Last Mountain→
How many times have you said to yourself, “If only I didn’t have to sleep.” Or “If only I tap into my brain’s full neuronal capacity, imagine the things I could do?” Such neurocognitive superpowers would seem to be the stuff of science fiction…for now. In the new film “Limitless,” these wishes unexpectedly come true for a struggling writer, but the results—and unexpected side effects—cause him to wonder whether it was all worth it. Sleek, stylish, sexy and well-crafted, “Limitless” is part scientific inquiry into the limits of expanding the pharmacopeia beyond current human capacities and part thriller to see if the main character who dares to try will get away with it. ScriptPhD.com’s full review of Limitless under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: Limitless→
Imagine the end-of-the-world, fiery destruction of Armageddon and Deep Impact. Now ratchet up the action with the artillery of Saving Private Ryan and the greatest war movies you’ve ever seen. Add in a dash of sci-fi with highly evolved aliensa hybrid of the metalloid Cylons of Battlestar Galactica and a gooier version of the extra-terrestrial from Alien. Top it off with some of the best computer generated imagery (CGI) of any recent film, and you have Battle: Los Angeles, Sony’s much-anticipated spring blockbuster that first caught our attention this summer at San Diego Comic-Con. ScriptPhD.com was fortunate to get a sneak peek this week in Los Angeles. Click “continue reading” for our complete review of Battle: Los Angeles. Continue reading REVIEW: Battle: Los Angeles→
One of the most captivating books of 2010 was not a gory science-fiction thriller or a gripping end-of-the world page-turner, though its subject matter is equally engrossing and out of the ordinary. It is about somewhat crazy people doing crazy things as seen through the lenses of the man that has been treating them for decades. The Naked Lady Who Stood On Her Head is the first psych ward memoir, a tale of a curious doctor/scientist and his most extreme, bizarre, and sometimes touching cases from the nation’s most prestigious neurology centers and universities. Included in ScriptPhD.com’s review is a podcast interview with Dr. Small, as well as the opportunity to win a free autographed copy of his book. Our end-of-the year science library pick is under the “continue reading” cut.
It has been 28 years since the release of the enormously groundbreaking science-fiction adventure Tron, the story of Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer that gets sucked into the virtual grid of the very game he created. As Flynn’s son, now cyber-reunited with his father, points out, decades of technology have bestowed us with cell phones, wi-fi, the internet, and even virtual dating. But one immutable fact stands the test of time—great sci-fi is great sci-fi. Without upstaging the original, TRON: Legacy manages a sleek, stylish, clever sequel utterly germane to the times we live in. ScriptPhD.com got treated to a preview screening in Hollywood this week. Our full review under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: TRON: Legacy→
“What is the most contagious parasite?” asks Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Mr. Cobb in the early moments of Inception. “An idea.” From the tiniest seed, it spreads like a virus, he explains. This is what makes it vulnerable to manipulation and theft. In many ways, the same could be said for Inception itself. Bending time, delving layers of dreams within dreams, shifting between reality and fantasy, the movie is instantly contagious. By the final shocking scene, when four concomitant worlds finally weave together in a breathlessly taut salvo, one is left downright feverish. It also happens to be one of the smartest, best-written, enigmatic additions to the typically content-light action genre. ScriptPhD.com’s full review of Christopher Nolan’s chef d’œvre under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: Inception→
Nothing has done more to reinvigorate discussions about energy and fuel dependence than the tragic oil spill currently afflicting the Gulf Coast [excellent resource for trajectory, timeline and news sources]. Though scientists and oil manufacturers continue to debate the validity of the “Peak Oil” theory, a very uncomfortable reality looms that oil production may not be able to keep up with thirsty demand. With an ever-increasing global population, a constant proliferation of technology choices and lifestyle improvements, and a rising middle class in third world countries, the factors contributing to fuel consumption may be the precipice of an eventual geopolitical crisis. In an effort to showcase their dedication to addressing the most salient energy and environmental questions affecting our generation, the Discovery Channel, backed by founder John Hendricks, is launching a revolutionary four-part documentary called Powering The Future. In it, they address a range of economics, national security, social and scientific questions related to energy and fuel all through the single focal point of searching for a modern, clean, limitless supply of energy. Our coverage of Powering the Future includes a review of the first installment and an exclusive podcast interview with the show’s host, lead scientist for the Nature Conservancy, Dr. M. Sanjayan. For full content, please click “continue reading.” Continue reading It’s Not Easy Being Green: Powering The Future→