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‘First Man’ and ‘The First’ put a new spin on space

Ryan Gosling in "First Man"
Ryan Gosling plays the role of NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong in “First Man.” (Universal Pictures Photo)

Two big-name dramatic productions — “First Man” in theaters, and “The First” on Hulu — are putting the glorious past and potentially glorious future of space exploration on big and small screens.

But if you’re expecting the Ryan Gosling movie about Neil Armstrong, or the Sean Penn streaming-video series about the first mission to Mars, to tell a geeky off-world tale like “The Martian” … expect to be surprised.

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5 ‘Martian’ miscues to fix in future space flicks

Scene from "The Martian"
Astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) climbs through a hatch in his pressurized rover in a scene from “The Martian.” (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.)

LOS ANGELES — Planetary scientist Pascal Lee could give astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson a good run for his money when it comes to truth-squadding movie depictions of space missions.

For almost two decades, Lee has been working on the tools and techniques that will be needed for future Mars expeditions, as the leader of the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. The project, funded by NASA, the SETI Institute and other institutions, provides an earthy analog to the Red Planet’s bleak, cold, dry, isolated environment.

Astronauts could conceivably set up shop on Mars sometime in the next decade or two, and there could be a crewed base on the moon even before that. So Lee says it’s high time for Hollywood to provide a more accurate picture of how such missions would work.

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Elon Musk touts scary movie about AI

Elon Musk
Elon Musk talks about AI in “Do You Trust This Computer?” (Cinetic / Papercut Films via YouTube)

If you want to get really scared about the future, you could see “A Quiet Place” this weekend at your local theater — or you could stream “Do You Trust This Computer?”

The latter movie, about the potential threat posed by artificial intelligence, comes with a thumbs-up from Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla who has long voiced serious concerns about AI.

Musk is one of the prominent interviewees in “Do You Trust This Computer?” — which was made by Chris Paine, the filmmaker behind “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Paine’s new 78-minute documentary had its premiere on April 5.

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5 tech twists from ‘Ready Player One’

Ready Player One scene
Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan) wears a haptic suit in “Ready Player One.” (Warner Bros. Photo)

“Ready Player One,” the Steven Spielberg movie that blends memes from the 1980s with a virtual-reality vision of 2045, is getting mostly positive reviews from film critics and filmgoers, and from box-office trackers as well.

Some see the film as a metaphor for the yin-yang, love-hate, fanboy-hacker relationship we’ve developed with our hyperconnected world. But for techies, one of the biggest allures of “Ready Player One” may well be the way it amps up today’s frontier technologies to reveal tomorrow’s everyday realities.

During a Cinerama preview organized by Madrona Ventures Group, managing director Matt McIlwain told the audience that the movie reflected the VC firm’s interest in intuitive “multisense” interfaces that are on track to transform the way we use high-tech applications.

If you want to go into the theater knowing absolutely nothing about the movie other than what you’ve seen in the teasers, put this story on pause and come back later. But if you’re ready for a quick rundown on five real-world gadgets and tech trends that are amped up for “Ready Player One,” read on.

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Who takes the prize for Oscar predictions?

Oscar nominees
The favorites for best-picture Oscar include “Lady Bird” (with Saoirse Ronan, upper left), “Get Out” (with Daniel Kaluuya, upper right), “The Shape of Water” (with Sally Hawkins, lower left) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (with Frances McDormand, lower right). (Photos: A24 / IAC, Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Twentieth Century Fox)

Looks like the living, breathing humans — and Unanimous AI — take the statuette for Oscar predictions this year.

The Academy Awards are literally the gold standard when it comes to Hollywood movies, but they’re also a testing ground for a far geekier pursuit: predicting who’ll win the Oscars, based on big data.

Crowdsourcing, artificial intelligence and social-media analytics all come into play, as well as the gut feelings of movie reviewers around the world.

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Spoof touts Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated ‘Star Trek’

What would an R-rated “Star Trek” movie directed by Quentin Tarantino look like?

We may find out someday soon: The director of “Kill Bill,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Inglorious Basterds” and other violence-laced neo-noir films is reportedly working with “Revenant” screenwriter Mark L. Smith and producer J.J. Abrams on a harder-edged version of the Starship Enterprise’s saga.

Nerdist has already put together a must-see video trailer for a Tarantino-tinged Trek, titled “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek: Voyage to Vengeance.”

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From ‘Last Jedi’ to ‘Solo’: 10 sci-fi shows for 2018

"Electric Dreams"
“Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” comes to Amazon Video in January. (Amazon Video via YouTube)

The dust has barely settled on the premiere of “Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” Or is that a thin layer of salt? In any case, it’s already time to look forward to the science-fiction screen offerings in the months ahead, leading up to the next Star Wars story on Memorial Day weekend.

This personal top-10 list should get things started, with a couple of caveats. I’m not including the long list of next year’s Marvel and DC comic-book spinoffs, which adds “Game of Thrones” veteran Maisie Williams (Arya) to the marquee for “The New Mutants.” For that list, check ComicBook.com’s roundup.

I’m also not including a couple of favorites that are still lacking release dates for their 2018 seasons, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” (on Hulu) and “The Expanse” (on Syfy).

With those preliminaries out of the way, here are 10 shows to put on your radar screen for the next five months.

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Star Wars fans suit up for ‘The Last Jedi’

Star Wars fans
Caitlin Jacques, Nathan Battern and Kay Ahern strike a pose while standing in line outside the Cinerama, waiting for “Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” to start. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

For Star Wars fans, it’s the hap-happiest season of all — and that makes dress-up artists like Kay Ahern something akin to Santa Claus.

“Forget Christmas,” said Ahern, who was costumed as emo villain Kylo Ren tonight for the premiere of “Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” at Seattle’s Cinerama. “This is my religious holiday.”

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Science fiction duo looks at life after ‘The Martian’

Neal Stephenson and Andy Weir
Sci-fi author Andy Weir (“The Martian,” “Artemis”) makes a point while Neal Stephenson (“Seveneves,” “The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.”) looks on. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

What could be better than hearing a science fiction writer talk about how to create whole new worlds? How about doubling that to two science fiction writers?

That was the case for a Seattle-area appearance by Andy Weir — the author of “The Martian” and “Artemis,” a just-released novel set on a moon colony in the 2080s.

When he showed up at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Nov. 30, he brought along Seattle’s own Neal Stephenson, the author of science-fiction novels ranging from “Snow Crash” to “Seveneves” to “The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.”

A standing-room-only crowd of 600 or so heard Weir and Stephenson hold forth on the writing racket. Here are some gems from the conversation:

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‘Star Wars’ trailer signals start of ticket rush

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker looks worried in the trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” (Disney / Lucasfilm)

The Force is clearly with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The trailer for Episode VIII of the movie saga made its debut in the midst of Monday Night Football, kicking off ticket sales for the Dec. 14 premiere and beyond.

And the truly magical part was that you could actually buy tickets.

First, about that trailer: Although fans have gotten glimpses of the upcoming movie at Comic-Con and other special events, this is the biggest fully loaded dose of Star Wars lore to go public since the first official trailer was released in April.

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