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Author Topic: Eham.net Movie Review: The Numbers Station  (Read 27832 times)
K0JEG
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Posts: 679




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« on: April 07, 2013, 09:21:20 AM »

This is more of a technical review rather than an plot synopsis. If you want that, check out http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1659338/

On a total impulse after seeing the promo on the "barker" chanel, I ordered this movie on demand Friday night. I remember hearing numbers stations fairly frequently in the 1980s when I was doing a lot of SWL, and figured it might be a good popcorn movie.

The movie looks OK, but as usual there's a lot of hardware overkill when it comes to Hollywood's interpretation of security. Think underground bunkers, "mantrap" gates, and bank vault doors all over the transmitter facility. Of course, there's no rent-a-cop at any of the gates or remotely viewed cameras over secure fiber links to the station, only a laptop computer that is running the typical Hollywood easy-hack operating system and several iMacs in the main transmitting room. There's no shots of transmitters or other radio equipment (I don't even recall seeing a mixer in the "studio") and there's no engineer or technical people at the site. Being an underground bunker, it's also very very dark all the time.

The plot requires a super-intelligent, but completely helpless woman, to read the numbers out over the air once a computer generates the cypher code. Of course given the mechanical sound of all the numbers stations I've heard, this is completely wrong, the voice might be female but is just a computer playing out audio files. This super-intelligent woman still manages to talk into the wrong side of the mic (a Neumann U87, which is mounted vertically with the capsule on the side http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Neumann_U87.jpg). This is forgivable except that there's a big metal band that runs over the top, and you'd think the sound guy might point out the error to someone anyway.

At any rate, the way they describe the decode process isn't too far off from what most people accept as how it's really done, but greatly simplified. There's also a lot of plot holes that would become apparent when you realize that only one station had been compromised (that earlier was said to only send instruction to European operatives), yet instructions were sent to operatives all over the world. And again, I just couldn't get over the fact that an ultra secure location has almost no security or outside monitoring, nor was there any upper-level monitoring of the messages being sent. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice to say the whole system seems to be way too easy to game with far too little security to make sense.

The CIA guy assigned to the station does a lot of shooting, gets shot a lot and John Cusack does a good job of trying to make it an action-thriller. But the script really wants to be more of a mystery, or romance, or something. It certainly didn't have anything to do with radio.
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K0OD
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Posts: 2591




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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2013, 01:34:41 PM »

I saw the trailer a few weeks ago. It sounded awful! Most new films have fairly high IMDB ratings that gradually decline. Yet, The Numbers Station is already rated a dismal 5.7 (out of 10) after 91 votes.

What's coming next from Hollywoodland:  WWV...The Movie ?
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K0OD
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2013, 01:56:47 PM »

Way off topic, but perhaps The Numbers Station might not seem so bad if you had been subjected to that new TV show Splash, which debuted in the US last week.

Spash features celebrities diving into a swimming pool (that's about it!). I tuned in just as comic Louie Anderson was entering the water from the high board!

I turned on the computer specifically to check its IMDB rating: 2.3 out of 10. Perhaps a new low! The reviews are hilarious.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2647792/?ref_=sr_1

« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 02:10:47 PM by K0OD » Logged
KE6EE
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Posts: 454




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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2013, 05:14:51 PM »


What's coming next from Hollywoodland:  WWV...The Movie ?


I just can't wait for "Powerline Noise" in 3D.
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K0JEG
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Posts: 679




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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2013, 05:55:59 PM »

Way off topic, but perhaps The Numbers Station might not seem so bad if you had been subjected to that new TV show Splash, which debuted in the US last week.

Spash features celebrities diving into a swimming pool (that's about it!). I tuned in just as comic Louie Anderson was entering the water from the high board!

I turned on the computer specifically to check its IMDB rating: 2.3 out of 10. Perhaps a new low! The reviews are hilarious.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2647792/?ref_=sr_1

This sort of television almost makes me wish we had Japanese-style game shows instead.

Almost.
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K0OD
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Posts: 2591




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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2013, 06:48:32 PM »

Actually one new TV show is tied with Splash for worst IMDB TV rating of 2013 and makes Radio Pyongyang look like Madmen or Boardwalk Empire. 

Immortalized (AMC)

"Each week, the program pits two taxidermists against each other as they create projects based on the same theme. A panel of judges selects the winner."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2631416/
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N0YXB
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Posts: 330




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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 12:29:21 PM »

Way off topic, but perhaps The Numbers Station might not seem so bad if you had been subjected to that new TV show Splash, which debuted in the US last week.

Spash features celebrities diving into a swimming pool (that's about it!). I tuned in just as comic Louie Anderson was entering the water from the high board!

I turned on the computer specifically to check its IMDB rating: 2.3 out of 10. Perhaps a new low! The reviews are hilarious.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2647792/?ref_=sr_1

This sort of television almost makes me wish we had Japanese-style game shows instead.

Almost.

I'd certainly prefer Japanese game shows to Splash, The Bachelor, The Kardashians, etc., etc.
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2488




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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 01:37:03 PM »

What's coming next from Hollywoodland:  WWV...The Movie ?

"Don't miss the opening.  The first minute sets the tone for the whole season"  Daily Stare

"Sweeping action, your emotions will be modulated minute to minute."  Hebert and Rover

"A plot that could stop a clock!"  Big Ben
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K9SRV
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Posts: 121




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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2013, 12:42:37 PM »

So far, I think The Americans on FX is a captivating show. Anyone seen it?
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KQ6EA
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Posts: 609


WWW

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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 05:56:29 PM »

I'd actually prefer a broken TV to "The Kardashians".......

How can people watch this stuff??
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KX8N
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Posts: 542




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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 08:33:12 PM »

I can see this movie getting low ratings simply due to most people never having heard of a numbers station. As both a ham and a longtime SWL, I think the plot at least seems interesting. It may not be the best movie I've ever seen, but it might be worth watching.

Dave,
KX8N
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K0OD
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Posts: 2591




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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 11:27:47 PM »

Quote
I saw the trailer a few weeks ago. It sounded awful! Most new films have fairly high IMDB ratings that gradually decline. Yet, The Numbers Station is already rated a dismal 5.7 (out of 10) after 91 votes.

The Numbers Station IMDB rating has now fallen to 5.3 based on 349 votes.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1659338/
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K5TED
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 05:40:03 PM »


What's coming next from Hollywoodland:  WWV...The Movie ?


Sheesh... At least you could put some romance into it... How about:

"A Time For U.S."
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K0OD
Member

Posts: 2591




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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2013, 09:47:35 AM »

Quote
Way off topic, but perhaps The Numbers Station might not seem so bad if you had been subjected to that new TV show Splash, which debuted in the US last week.

Spash features celebrities diving into a swimming pool (that's about it!). I tuned in just as comic Louie Anderson was entering the water from the high board!

I turned on the computer specifically to check its IMDB rating: 2.3 out of 10. Perhaps a new low! The reviews are hilarious.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2647792/?ref_=sr_1


 "former 'Baywatch' star makes the fourth contestant to injure themselves on the ABC reality show. [Splash TV Show]

From her photo, perhaps her body wasn't properly "balanced" for diving

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/nciole-eggert-hospitalized-diving-injury-splash-article-1.1322737#ixzz2R1SKc8Ae
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WX2S
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Posts: 759




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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2013, 07:11:57 PM »

Somehow, I ran into this movie and got curious about numbers stations. Found a rather nice little "visualization" of a BBC documentary on the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwJdGWcNAqk

After watching it, "The Lincolnshire Poacher" has been running through my head all day. Shocked Cheesy

Out of curiosity, are there any numbers stations still running?

73, Steve WX2S.
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
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