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Roving Mars [Blu-ray]
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At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, we see highly skilled engineers addressing every challenge and every possible contingency, and project leader Steve Squyers serves as our informative host and enthusiastic populist for space exploration. After launching in June and July of 2003, the rovers traveled for seven months and 300 million miles to Mars, landing on the red planet in January 2004. Every aspect of the mission is covered in concise detail, and tension escalates as touch-down (achieved with the now-familiar "bouncing balloon" landing system) draws near. What's most remarkable, even to the crew at JPL, is that Spirit and Opportunity succeeded far beyond their mission expectations, becoming one of NASA's most triumphant achievements in interplanetary exploration. The photos, chemical analyses, and other data gathered on Mars were intended to prove the past existence of water on Mars (and hence the possibility of life), and in this and many other respects, Roving Mars stands as a breathtaking tribute to the men, women, and robots who've given us a greater understanding of the planetary system we call home. --Jeff Shannon
On the Disc
Roving Mars is accompanied by two excellent bonus features. First up is "Mars: Past, Present, and Future," a 25-minute "making of" featurette that provides additional educational detail about our closest planetary neighbor, along with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with key personnel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Then comes the 50-minute featurette "Mars and Beyond," originally broadcast in 1957 as an episode of Walt Disney's popular Disneyland TV show. Typical of that series, it's a wildly imaginative, cleverly animated look at Mars and its significance in the history of mankind. Even after more than half a century, it's filled with scientific and speculative details that are sure to engage anyone's sense of wonder. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
I had read a review on Netflix where the wannabe critique stated that they didn't like all the CGI; they probably didn't know that some of the extraordinary footage of the mars terrain was actual footage from the HD-quality cameras on-board the rovers. It might have helped the common laymen if the filmmakers had indicted where the CGI stopped and the actual footage from mars began. I've been so engrossed by the rover missions (NASA made all the rover stills, panoramas and video available for download to the public, ever since the missions began [...]) I knew when I was when observing actual film-footage from mars, but I hadn't witnessed the utter clarity of the videos by playback on the computer. I'm astounded by the fact that the rovers are still up there working after four years, and this DVD will have a special place in my heart and in my imagination for the rest of my life imprisoned here on the earth.
In reference to the low ratings listed here: pretty much all IMAX documentaries are less than 60 minutes because of the giant-size of the actual IMAX film used for projection in IMAX theaters. I think its well worth twenty-bucks. It's something you'll proudly enjoy showing to your friends; providing you have a quality TV screen or projector.
This 40-minute film is disappointing, however. It's short on science; there is no discussion of the launch planning, the path of the rover as it travels to Mars, or any interesting facts. What is its weight? How did the timing work? How did the engineers design the rover, and measure its performance? What materials were used in its implementation? What diagnostics did it have? How much power did it use? What challenges were involved in surviving the harsh Martian atmosphere, its cold, the dust, and its chemistry?
The questions I have are simple, and endless. This film addressed none of them, I'm afraid. Worse, as others have pointed out, there's very little actual footage from the rovers. Most of the CGI scenes are flawed -- seeing stars through the shadowed surface of the moon, for example.
I admire the engineers and explorers in our space programs as heroes. This film does them disservice by failing to tell their wonderful story.
The "Roving Mars" DVD has both standard 4x3 and 16x9 (enhanced) formats. The latter fits a HDTV screen perfectly (1.78:1 aspect ratio) and looks superb when played from an upscaling or HD DVD player.
The introduction is narrated by a noticeably feeble voice over by Paul Neuman. However, the main storyline is covered by the Lead Scientist, Steve Skyiers, who does a great job explaining the Mars Rovers - there are two, Spirit and Opportunity - without beating you up with technospeak.
"Rovering Mars" is only 40 minutes, but there are two extras provided on the same DVD; a 1957 Disney TV program called "Mars And Beyond", which is quite dated and rather cartoonish. Fortunately, there is another extra about 25 minutes in duration, called "Mars: Past, Present and Future". The latter is just as good as the main feature, a bunch of extra scenes that for whatever reason were (needlessly) editted out of the IMAX film.
The filmmakers did a great job with the animated special effects to accurately depict what the actual rocket launcher liftoffs from Cape Kennedy, and departures from Earth's gravity would have looked like from space. The Martian landings took place many months later, about three weeks apart. Amazingly realistic computer graphics were used to make this movie!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great movie. I use it in my class to review the engineering design process.Published 2 months ago by Q SMITH-GREEN
Not worth any money. Heavily loaded with animations and light on the details.Published 4 months ago by Matt Gent
Roving Mars in HD sounds great. Only thing missing here is any actual video from Mars. What you get is about six still pictures and about 16 minutes of computer animated... Read morePublished 5 months ago by bob turnley
This is a review of the Blu-ray edition!:
The feature is pretty interesting.
PQ: DNR galore! I have never seen anything so DNR'd in my life. Read more
I Was that our students would get a lot from it, but it was a little dry.Published 8 months ago by Vanessa Marie Neff
Great video, watched it with my son for his project. I thought it was going to be too much for a 3rd grader but it was interesting enough to keep him glued to the TV.Published 13 months ago by Peercase