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Action. Drama. Anticipation. Exultation. Experience it all as you join the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity for an awe-inspiring journey to the surface of the mysterious red planet. Through the eyes of these two intrepid, state-of-the-art rovers, and with NASA scientists and engineers at your side, you'll see Mars in a way no one ever has before. You'll feel what it's like to stand on the startling surface of the planet that's intrigued mankind for eons. ROVING MARS -- It's the ride of a lifetime.
When you consider the odds against success, the achievements on glorious display in Roving Mars are almost miraculous. This excellent IMAX production follows the familiar IMAX format; at 40 minutes in length, it's not as wide-ranging as other documentaries might be, but in chronicling the design, launch, and successful landings of NASA's robotic Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, it offers an unprecedented level of visual splendor, highlighted by amazingly accurate computer-animated depictions of what really happened when the rovers arrived at their destination. Financed by Disney, and combining the talents of veteran IMAX director George Butler and top-ranking Hollywood producer Frank Marshall (best known for his frequent collaborations with Steven Spielberg), this celebration of science and technology begins with a raspy introduction narrated by Paul Newman (who had recently voiced the character of "Doc" in Disney/Pixar's Cars), then dives right into the formidable challenge of launching and landing the rovers on time and budget, with a looming deadline of optimal Mars/Earth orbital alignment occurring only once every 26 months.
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 DVD
Roving Mars is presented in both full-screen and widescreen formats, and 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
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Top customer reviews
This is a fabulous documentary! First they are designing the rover (they actually sent up two identical ones, one right after the other), and you get a good idea of what a 20-year challenge that was. An "origami" rover - because after landing, it had to unfold itself.
Then there's wind-tunnel tests, looking for a parachute that wouldn't tear at 12,000 miles per hour. And the giant balloons that inflate around the rover and protect it after it BOUNCES across the Mars landscape on landing.
Even though we knew the rover missions were successful, the three of us were literally sitting on the edges of our seats, joining the nervous scientists at mission control, waiting to see if the little guy would survive the landing.
Disney did an excellent job on this movie. There's lots of real footage of the scientists at work and in the control room. I got such a kick out of the outdoor desert-y testing playground for the rovers, with a big sign in front of it stating "Mars"! And there's fabulous CGI of the rocket in space and the landing, and the bouncing.
Both rovers, offically named Spirit and Opportunity, were designed to last 90 days and move around 600 feet. Spirit sent back information for 6 years, 2 months and 19 days! According to a June 22, 2011, update on the
marsrover.nasa.gov website, Opportunity is still traveling, having so far clocked 19.3 miles!
I highly recommend this documentary, and am buying our own copy and a copy for a gift.
The feature is pretty interesting.
PQ: DNR galore! I have never seen anything so DNR'd in my life. This BD is the worst in my collection of 860 BDs.
It's a wax museum, but wax figures look far more life-like then what's on display here.
Aliasing is a constant problem too, but it's obscured by all the DNR, so it isn't as distracting as it would be.
Same goes for banding, which is not a major problem. The DNR kills this feautre completely. EE runs rampant too!
I couldn't even concentrate on the dialogue, and had to look away.
I watched it on a mere 50inch HDTV from 5.2 feet away.
SQ: No problems here. It's powerful and dynamic with some lovely use of surround. Pretty powerful stuff.
Extras: This is what single-handedly saves this BD, as it contains one fantastic and one pretty good extra.
The fantastic one is a bonus movie called Mars and Beyond from 1957. It's a must see, and should be seen before the main feature, if that were any good that is. It's 50min long and quite in-depth, featuring some truly imaginative animation, and interesting hypothesis.
The pretty good one is a sort of a making of called Mars: Past, Present & Future and runs 25min.
The PQ of both of these is better than the main feautre.
The 1957 movie has some specks, but nothing distracting.
This is one to get for the extras alone.
The main feature has been oblitereated by DNR and EE!
Unlike movies that should concentrate on the story line with visuals coming in as a secondary attribute this documentary benefits form the Blu-ray treatment. One plus is the narration by Paul Newman.
Do not forget to look at the extras on the DVD.