Blu-ray Review: National Geographic’s “Mars” Intertwines Science Fact & Fiction

“It's actually quite fascinating watching each character deal with the elements they were all warned about in lieu of their mission, loneliness, lack of companionship and intimacy, cabin fever, and how each of them conducts themselves within any given situation.”


 

The first manned mission from Earth to Mars in 2033 attempts to colonize the red planet.

I think it is mathematically impossible for National Geographic to produce anything that is not intriguing, whether it be a documentary, a TV series, an original movie, or even a photograph, they have never created “boring,” and the proof of that is in their latest endeavor, a miniseries about the first manned mission to the red planet. It takes place in the year 2033 so the characters are still very much grounded in today’s technology, unlike, say, “Blade Runner,” which came out in 1982 but was set in the year 2019, complete with flying cars and androids, some who dreamed of electric sheep. With “Mars,” National Geographic takes it one step further by not only creating an authentic and realistic drama which takes place on board the spaceship Daedalus, as it speeds towards Mars, carrying the first humans who plan on colonizing the red planet, but it intermixes interviews and real-life footage with some of today’s top scientists, and includes footage and photographs from the Apollo space program, including the landing on the moon, and the creation of the Space Shuttle program in 1972, until its retirement in 2011.

The show acknowledges commentaries by top scientists from around the world and their thoughts and ideas on how we should proceed with our non-stop fascination and aspirations to travel to Mars, and they explain, in great detail, exactly what it will take to get there. We then cut back to the drama part of the show, which begins in 2033 when we first land on Mars, including its eventual colonization, and it encompasses all of the technology and mechanics that the scientists and engineers of today speak about throughout the show.

Once the spaceship Daedalus lands on Mars in 2033, the crew are anticipating living inside the ship for the next two years, until the next spaceship arrives with the second team but upon entering the planet’s atmosphere, they are knocked off course and one of their team members dies from injuries sustained during the ship’s descent to the surface. The team must then travel over 75 kilometers to reach their base camp and over the next four years, we watch their progress, and, at times, their failures, and how they affect each team member.

While there is a lot of story exposition and character development, the show never bores. It’s actually quite fascinating watching each character deal with the elements they were all warned about in lieu of their mission, loneliness, lack of companionship and intimacy, cabin fever, and how each of them conducts themselves within any given situation. The cutting back and forth between the interviews of today and the drama of tomorrow, makes for thought-provoking television and it is the first time, to my knowledge, that a show of this magnitude has ever been produced. Both Ron Howard and Brian Grazer produce and you can feel their presence throughout. If you are looking for futuristic thrills and excitement, comparative to movies like “Red Planet,” “Mission to Mars,” “The Martian,” and even Ray Bradbury’s 1980 miniseries, “The Martian Chronicles,” you will be disappointed, but if you go into this with an open mind, I promise you, you will be thoroughly entertained. And enlightened.

Now available on Blu-ray & DVD


 

James McDonald

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.

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