Roving Mars

Rated NR 40 minutes 2006

This 40-minute IMAX presentation traces the missions of the two successful Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. One of them is described as a blue-collar machine that had to crawl long distances for everything it accomplished; the other was "Little Miss Perfect," landing just where it needed to in order to find the rocks scientists probed for signs of water. George Butler's film spends more time detailing the construction and testing of these gold-plated dune buggies than with their painstaking exploration, and it treats us to more animated recreations of what the Rovers are up to and less of the actual photos they've taken. Short on data and long on spectacle, Roving Mars is for families, not scientists, though it's nice to see so many scraggly haired techies being glorified. The rocket takeoffs and Martian landings are thrilling, and the film should succeed in what surely is its primary mission: Interesting kids in science. Philip Glass's music pulses accommodatingly along, a far cry from the critique of high technology he penned 23 years ago for Koyaanisqatsi.

Film Credits

Official Site: disney.go.com/disneypictures/rovingmars

Director: George Butler

Writer: George Butler and Robert Andrus

Producer: Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, George Butler and Caroline Alexander

Cast: Paul Newman, Stephen Squyres, Rob Manning, Charles Elachi and Wayne Lee

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