Author Topic: How would a "voyage" movie be done?  (Read 1071 times)

Offline TeenSpaceNerd

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How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« on: 09/22/2017 07:09 PM »
Voyage by Stephen Baxter is one of the greatest hard SF books ever written, and judging by Ronpur50s modeling threads, others feel the same way. If it was adapted into a movie, what would you want, how should it be written?

Offline Hobbes-22

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #1 on: 09/22/2017 07:19 PM »
What I remember most about Voyage were the interminable, preachy political discussions. And the fact that it skipped the cool parts, i.e. the mission itself was reduced to a few pages at the end.

Offline TeenSpaceNerd

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #2 on: 09/22/2017 07:47 PM »
What I remember most about Voyage were the interminable, preachy political discussions. And the fact that it skipped the cool parts, i.e. the mission itself was reduced to a few pages at the end.
No, every second or third chapter is a Mars chapter, like a flashforward. If a movie were to be made, they should have two movies, the first about The Decision, with Moonlab, Apollo-N and other flights scattered in(Oh, and the MEM subplot). The second one should start with the crew finally getting selected, and end with the Mars landing.

Offline Archibald

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #3 on: 09/24/2017 04:41 PM »
first, cut into the political garbage (which doesn't really work).
I think something akin to Zack Snyder "Watchmen" intro would be necessary.
Just like Voyage, Watchmen backstory stretches over a very long period of time (1940 - 1985). Snyder got around "boring exposition" in a fine way.



It explained how the Watchmen timeline diverged from our universe circa 1940. 1940 to 1985 wrapped in less than six minutes, with subtile hints along the way.

Imagine a similar sequence made, starting with V-2s, von Braun Disney & Colliers, then ICBMs, Sputnik, Gagarin, Leonov, Gemini, Apollo 1, Apollo 8 and finally Apollo 11.
Add JFK Rice University 1962 speech and footage (something like this - which was AWESOME)



Next issue is Nixon having a JFK moment. Nixon isn't much likeable (hint, Watergate).  It would be better to skim him.

1986 is also far away. What is needed is some fine soudtrack with songs from the era everybody's know and enjoy. Focuse on the period 1970 - 1985 (once again, that's what Snyder and Watchmen did with that Bob Dylan song, also Simon and Garfunkel later).
Add familiar  pop culture / historical events (John Lennon assassination, Elvis death, things like that).

Natalie isn't very sympathetic, and Baxter not very kind with NASA.
So rework Natalie York.

I would say, cut into most others characters and focuse on York. Think Sandra Bullock critically acclaimed performance in Gravity. There is enough charisma in the character to stretch it over 15 years.
Add a touch of "The right stuff" traiing, except in the 80's - think Mike Mullane "Riding rockets" astronaut biography.

There are some filthy parts in Voyage (related to the toilet) which makes it similar to "Riding rockets" except the later is more humorous.

The right stuff lasted 3 hours and 13 minutes and stretched over 15 years (1947 - 1963). Once again having a central charismatic characters (Chuck Yeager / Sam Sheppard) greatly helped.

What Joe six-pack needs is a character that is likeable and that he can relate to, a character that has to be present across the entire movie.
« Last Edit: 09/24/2017 05:13 PM by Archibald »

Online Ben the Space Brit

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #4 on: 09/24/2017 05:36 PM »
My idea goes like this:

The launch of Ares to the TMI burn should be at the very start of the movie. The vast bulk is flash-backs, narrated by Natalie from within the Ares Transhab, intercut with a few moments on the trans-Mars coast (including the Venus flyby) that make her think of those events. Then, as in the book, the final climactic moment is the Mars EDL with the film ending as Natalie's boots are the first human apparel to touch the surface of Mars.

The flash-back story should be presented chronologically. However, the association with something happening in the subjective 'present' on the flight out to Mars needs to be maintained. For example, the story of the MEM can be told as she and Ralph are doing an in-flight check-out of the electrical systems or something; Ralph's back-story can be told during the CSM's transposition and docking at the end of the TMI burn; Natalie's backstory can be handled when Ralph is teasing her at her difficulties adapting to freefall and so on.
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Offline Ronpur50

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #5 on: 09/24/2017 11:20 PM »
I would like it like the BBC Audio.  A straight forward mini series.  And no flash backs.  Maybe something like From the Earth to the Moon.  Or maybe they can have Ron Howard direct a movie like he would have done instead of Apollo 13 in that timeline!

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #6 on: 09/25/2017 12:23 AM »
Like this movie?

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #7 on: 09/25/2017 12:41 AM »
I agree that a more straightforward telling be done - somewhat like the BBC audio series - though with a minimal, necessary flashback. I would start with the launch and Trans-Mars Injection and then do a flashback to when York met Ben Priest and Conlig, then applies to the Astronaut corp, gets accepted, the MEM development story starts with Gershon - introducing him and Phil Stone, Muldoon and some other characters. You wouldn't need to go all the way back to when Apollo 11 happened, as Baxter portrayed. But it could be mentioned that Muldoon and Armstrong were on the first landing and that Lovell, Aldrin etc were backups...

From that point onwards, the story would proceed in a linear fashion until announcing the Ares 1 crew... Then the story jumps to showing the crew encountering Venus and the long drudge through space until reaching Mars - by which time the pace and action builds to a crescendo; showing the landing and the first EVA - though time compressed. If done as a mini-series - my preference - then jump forward to the last EVA of the mission weeks later. The crew could be shown as tired, scruffy and a bit haggard. They successfully liftoff, reach the Ares and fly back to Earth for a successful splashdown. This is all post-novel and somewhat of a sequel. But that's the point. Then, the final episode shows the crew changed and disoriented by their adventure - as Aldrin and Armstrong apparently were to varying degrees by their mission.

There would be a sense of "Now what?!" which Natalie York could sum up by having an inspiring speech close the whole story when the crew addresses a joint session on Congress. York urges America to see that:

"We aren't done. We aren't finished. America in space is just like America as a nation - we are only just beginning on the path to our destiny, in space and in all other things. We cannot close this chapter. We have pioneered two new worlds in less than a generation - just as we pioneered this great nation in generations past. We did not stop then, so why should we stop now? We cannot turn our backs on future worlds, if they are in our noble grasp. America has always been a leader, in so many things. One of the greatest and most noble things we have done is to lead in space. Because as a great President once said and I paraphrase; 'We set sail on this new ocean because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. Space is a goal that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone. Thank you."

:) ;)
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 11:44 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Online Ben the Space Brit

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #8 on: 09/25/2017 09:48 AM »
IMO, the Natalie/Ben ship is fodder for the cutting room floor. It doesn't really add anything to the character except boost the emotional consequences of the Apollo-N disaster to her by a few more steps. Given the NASA-wide trauma of that mission and the exposure of slapdash safety protocols and fault reporting combined with 'go-fever' in the NERVA-2 development project, it was already devastating enough for the NASA family.

I think that Baxter was on a trip about giving his characters feet of clay and needed to give Natalie a major character flaw; there seems no other real point for that subplot.
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Offline Archibald

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #9 on: 10/11/2017 08:01 AM »
Voyage

2007

Christopher Nolan 3h epic space opera and alternate history, freely adapted from Stephen Baxter novel (albeit Baxter really disliked all the changes made to the storyline).

ACT 1

Scene 1 – Mittelwerk, Germany, 1944

Greggory Dana is a slave laborer building V-2 missiles. Hans Udet is a German rocket scientist working with Von Braun. One morning, while Dana is fighting for his life, starving and freezing, Udet and others are seen poiting a red star in the sky – Mars.

...

Followed by a Watchmen-like four minutes sequence depicting the next 25 years – V-2, ICBMs, Sputnik, Gagarine, Mercury, JFK 1962 Rice University speech, Gemini, Apollo.

...

Scene 2 – 1967. Edwards AFB. California

Phil Stone goes into a hypersonic spin while flying the X-15 above 300 000 ft. He recovers, land the aircraft, and walks away. This pays tribute to The Right Stuff.

Scene 3 – July, 21, 1969. The White House

Nixon is seen talking to Armstrong and Aldrin. And then – surprise ! - a battered JFK on a wheelchair also speak to them and suggests we may go to Mars, to Nixon dismay. It is made clear that JFK isn't a space program fanboy but rather wants to embarrass his old ennemy.

Scene 4 – July 1969, Vietnam

Ralph Gershon is leading a fighter bomber squadron into combat. As they get close from the target, SAM missiles starts exploding all over the place, and the two aircrafts in close formation with Gershon are blasted in balls of orange flames, with their pilots killed. An enraged Gershon takes control and napalm the SAM site into oblivion. He takes heavy damage, but his pilot skills allows him to crash land his aircraft.

Scene 5 – November 1971, JPL

Mariner 9 is orbiting Mars. Nathalie York is introduced as a geologist fascinated by Mars. Flash back to 1969 and York handling Apollo lunar rocks at JSC, Houston. She decides to go training the Apollo astronauts in field geology, but ends dismayed by their culture – macho, screw the science, we want to fly. Then she meet Jim Dana, who is different. York will have to battle the astronaut machism and total lack of interest for science.

Meanwhile, JFK has trapped Nixon in a corner with Mars, and Nixon decides NASA will go to Mars.

Scene 6 – March 1972

Jim Dana introduces Nathalie to his father, Greggory, the man from the Mittelwerk. Greggory explain his skepticism over the nuclear rocket and says he found an alternative – bouncing off Venus. Natalie and Jim share his skepticism and promise to help, but they are outsiders with little weight on NASA decisions.

Scene 7 – July 1972

The typical NASA administrator (think James Fletcher, or James Cromwell in Space Cowboys. Grey hair, spectacles, bow tie). Udet and Dana are quarelling over the two options. Udet major argument is that nuclear rocket will have twice the performance. Dana says he is not confident it may work safely, and that he founds a trick to get chemical propulsion back into the race, using gravity assists.

Udet and others ridicules Dana idea, and the nuclear rocket is approved. The Danas and Natalie York are dismayed, and she considers leaving NASA. Then the Viking robotic lander is cancelled, leaving no choice to Nathalie than to apply as astronaut, with Jim support, despite their skepticism about the nuclear rocket. They still hope Greggory idea will be considered someday, and they hope to help him from the inside.

Scene 8 – NASA press conference

Phil Stone Apollo 17 mission is cancelled to save money for the Mars shot, to his great dismay. York is incensed because geologist Harrison Schmidt won't walk on the Moon. Then it is strongly hinted at this point that not only Viking, but also Voyager and Hubble, are gone, because the manned Mars shot is eating all of NASA budget.

Scene 9 – 1973

Ralph Gershon leaves Vietnam, and decides to applies as a NASA as astronaut. Later he meet J.K Lee, from Columbia aviation, a bidder for the Mars landing ship. Lee, his team and Columbia are a bunch of folk heroes and outsiders that are scorned by the big aerospace companies (think Suicide squad albeit not muderers, and less whacky).

Lee is confident enough he will get the contract, but Gershon is skeptical, although he kind of likes the freak team (as he calls them). There is an alcoholic, battered doctor (Jack Morgan) and a bunch of young, bright nerds that lack experience and confidence. Columbia CEO is an old man with a strong character that refuses to commit his company finances into a suicide bid. But Lee manage to convince him.

Scene 10 – May 1979

York and Dana visits the nuclear rocket facility. It is quite obvious the thing is unready and dangerous. Yet Dana reveals to Nathalie he will be the first crew to fly the nuclear rocket into space. York is angered, and suggest NASA did this to placate their opposition to the nuke, notably after the Three Miles Island incident. Dana mostly agree, but tells her his father failed, and he has no other choice if he wants to go to Mars. An incensed York break their relationship.

Scene 11 – November 1980

The nuclear rocket flies into orbit, but catastrophically fails, Gravity-style, with Jim and his crew fried by radiations. End of act 1 on a dark note. Nathalie York considers leaving the program, but Greggory convinced her to do it for Jim, plus the nuclear rocket is now gone forever.

ACT 2 – the 80's

That part of the movie essentially follows NASA recovery from the catastrophe. The agency found an ally with Reagan, but has to pay the price again – there will be just one single flight flight to Mars, with most of NASA money going to SDI, “Star Wars”. NASA may be shut down or reduced to Earth remote sensing and aeronautic research only, since manned spaceflight essentially killed robotic planetary exploration and space astronomy.

Columbia aviation is slowly rising to fame, but has to fights hard to get the contract, then to build a workable Mars landing ship. NASA doesn't really helps.

Gershon is rising among NASA astronaut ranks and helping Columbia's “freak team” as he feels only them can deliver a workable Mars lander in time.

Greggory Dana idea is finally reconsidered and adopted. Udet is furious, but Dana reveals he was a slave laborer at the Mittelwerk. Udet is then trialed and has to leave the United States.

Act 2 concludes with the Mars lander flight program stepping up.

Nathalie York first flight in orbit to test the Mars lander 001. She is overwhelmed by the Overview Effect.

Phil Stone finally walking on the Moon after landing the second Mars lander on the surface, with a Soviet cosmonaut passenger.
It is hinted Reagan turned away from shutting down NASA for SDI after he met Gorbachev. Hence USSR and the United States may explore the Moon together, after the Mars trip (think ISS, but on the Moon).

Another Mars lander is flown through Earth atmosphere by Gershon and landed at Edwards.

After these flights, the three are confirmed as the crew that will go to Mars in 1986.

Act 3 – Mars

Scene 1 Saturn V (spectacular) lift-off, March 1985, followed by Earth departure.

Scene 2 Venus flyby, September 1985, with an unmanned probe landing on the hellish surface.

Scene 3 Mars arrival, March 1986, followed by an epic landing with Gershon at the controls.

Scene 4 York first step on Mars.
Dire Straits Brother in arms concludes the movie, with York paying hommage to Jim Dana.


« Last Edit: 10/11/2017 09:38 AM by Archibald »

Offline Archibald

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Re: How would a "voyage" movie be done?
« Reply #10 on: 10/16/2017 10:45 AM »
I tried to reason like an hollywood producer and not a space fanboy

so

a) I cut all the boring crap the public wouldn't understand
and
b) I rewrote the characters to make them more likeable with a simpler love story

From the novel I cut
- all the politics, except for Nixon and JFK (because everybody knows who they are)
- most of the geology (geology is boring to the layman public)
- NASA post-Apollo hangover and political machinations (boring) so no Fred Michaels and tim Josephson and Bert Seger
- Moonlab (because it was a distraction to the main story)
- Viktorenko and the soviets (I used them differently)
- Mike Conlig
- Joe Muldoon / Buzz Aldrin post-Apollo drift and hangover (not very kind to Buzz)
- Most importantly, I made Natalie York a far more likeable character
- I changed her astronaut lover from Ben Priest to Jim Dana to get the love story directly linked to the main plot (Venus gravitary assistance vs NERVA)

More generally, I cut the number of characters, made them more recognizable, and got a better love story (because Titanic taught us the love story is important).
« Last Edit: 10/16/2017 10:48 AM by Archibald »

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