Roving Mars | Chicago Reader

Roving Mars

This large-format documentary by George Butler (Pumping Iron, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition) charts the genesis and journey of Spirit and Opportunity, two robotic vehicles that NASA sent to Mars in 2004 to collect and assist in the analysis of soil and rocks. The mission was the brainchild of Cornell University astronomer Steve Squyres, who hoped to broaden our knowledge of the red planet's history by examining various mineral deposits that act as a sort of time capsule. Butler deftly intercuts real footage with CGI, heightening the drama, and the film becomes especially compelling once the robots are launched into space. The most memorable sequence is their touchdown on Mars; enveloped in giant air bags, they bounce along the craggy surface like mutant blancmanges. 40 min.

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