Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Who's the Best... Film about Space Exploration?

The Right Stuff:

Apollo 13:


Karen: And any others you want to bring up...looking for realistic films here, not science fiction, but it can be on the edge.


Humanbelly said...

I'm guessing ARMAGEDDON and SPACE COWBOYS probably aren't going to top anyone's list-? (The former I bought for 25 cents at our library bookstore-- and still threw it away after I watched it. . . )

Boy, keeping it out of the realm of true SF, though, is tough, isn't it? 2001 fits pretty well until you get into the overplot w/ the monolith and the ending with the space baby-being and all that. . .


Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, 2001 also came to mind for me, as well, as did Contact, based on Carl Sagan's novel of the same name. Regardless of the fact that it centers around actual contact with an alien intelligence, I think the movie really does a good job of examining a lot of the issues surrounding space exploration.

As for the movies you linked, I haven't yet seen Gravity, but thought the others were just so-so, despite their popularity. Personally, I liked that TV series Hanks co-produced, "From the Earth to the Moon" much better than the movies - especially the one about the engineering that went into making the lunar module, the one that focused on the astronauts' wives, and the one where geologists help train the astronauts on what to look for when collecting rock samples on the moon.

By the way (and I hope this isn't too much of a derail), but while I generally agree with HB about Armageddon (liked Deep Impact much, much more), it did have this one genuinely hilarious scene. Kind of liked Space Cowboys, though...

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence, I bought the DVD of 'Gravity' just yesterday - I've never seen it but it has such great reviews that it's one of those films that's a must-see. As to the topic - I also thought of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I first saw it on TV on January 1st 1982 and quite liked it but the ending was baffling and rather spoiled it for me but these days I understand it more (well, a bit more). By coincidence there was a BBC radio programme all about 2001 broadcast last Thursday including interviews with the cast etc. They realistically tried to imagine what technology would be like in 2001 - how could they know the space race would be over by 1973.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen yet, but I understand "The Dish" is excellent.

Edo Bosnar said...

Anon, ha! I should have thought of The Dish myself. That's a really cute movie.

Humanbelly said...

SPACE COWBOYS wasn't an awful film, no-- just kind of thin and formulaic. The guys in it, of course, elevated the material considerably. Of all the implausibilities, though, the one I couldn't swallow was that a very obviously infirm James Garner supposedly passed the rigorous, no-quarter-given physical requirements. But you just have to let those things slide for the greater good. Really, I think the biggest knock against the film is that the story isn't a good for a motion picture. It would have benefited tremendously from being conceived as a single-arc Limited Television Series, with a planned conclusion and everything. Then you get a much more appreciable depth of plot and characterization.

Maybe sort of like the British series, "New Tricks" (retired police detectives pulled back into action), except w/out the many years of subsequent seasons.

Hmmm-- didn't one of the AIRPORT sequels involve and inadvertent trip into orbit. . . ?


Anonymous said...

Wow, I've seen all three of the movies mentioned in today's topic. Not to issue any spoilers, but I thought Gravity the weakest of the three.

Quick question to Colin, are y'all as inundated with the Netflix red boxes over there as we are over here? What I like the most about those things, you don't have to return a movie rental to the same place you checked it out.

Since we've opened the door to Gravity, would The Astronaut Farmer be allowed in the mix? I ask, not because I've seen it, but because it's not as fact based as The Right Stuff or Apollo 13. And getting into "not as fact based" my personal favorite Moon movie is Wallace And Gromit A Grand Day Out. Gromit has to get Wallace to the Moon for some cheese.

I was watching a program on HG Wells and they mentioned in one of his story about men travelling to the moon, they took off from Florida. I think they were launched out of a huge cannon?

The Prowler (rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone).

david_b said...

2001 stands out for me as the best, but if we're looking at representation/dramatization of more 'real space' technology, I really liked 'Right Stuff'. Sure it could have been cut by 20min, but it was still heroic in all the right spots, as was Apollo 13.

If you go more for space program documentaries.., I HIGHLY recommend 'Moonshot'. It's a 90s documentary with Al Shepard offering some very very poignant memories about his involvement, especially a wonderful warm closing story about how his Dad was ultimately proud of him being the first American in space. Deke Slayton was the executive producer and was going to narrate it, but he passed on during it's production, so they grabbed Barry Corbin to ultimately narrate..:

It's a highly-enjoyable, informative documentary, far better than the 'When We Left Earth' series. Unfortunately, it was regretably only released on VHS. (..bastards...)

The Andrew Lincoln DVD listed is a different and inferior product altogether.

Karen said...

I know, it's hard to find films dealing with space that aren't at least somewhat science fiction -perhaps we can include a category of realistic Science fiction, like 2001, Contact, and others.

There were older space films I didn't list, like Marooned, just because I felt most people hadn't probably seen them, and they felt minor in comparison to some of the other films here.

My personal favorite is the Right Stuff. The story of the Mercury astronauts is personally affecting, and the score is magnificent. The space program has always been of huge significance to me. I feel it's a tremendous achievement and something to take pride in, as human beings. I do have to reconcile this with some of the negative feelings I have about all of the former Nazi scientists we 'imported' to work on our space program...but that's for another blog.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, I'm with you on the space program (or rather programs, as the Russian efforts & achievements in this regard were no less impressive). And when we're talking about factual space exploration over the SF variety, I tend to prefer documentaries (or at least docudramas) to dramatized and overly-dramatic films.

And I agree about the Nazi scientists - again, this wasn't just an 'original sin' perpetrated on the American side, as the Russians also smuggled in their own contingent of Nazi rocket scientists to help get their space program off the ground, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Prowler, we do have Netflix here but I've never used it so I don't know much about it :)

david_b said...

Well, 'Iron Sky' is HIGH on my list to watch come 2015..

I sort of liked 'Apollo 18', granted a bit low-brow but their heart was in the right place to at least TRY to make it authentic.

"Magnificent Desolation" by Tom Hanks anyone..? I HAD to see it when it hit our Milwaukee IMAX and I nearly had tears in my eyes.

Like Karen, I lived/breathed/ate by our manned Space Program like most of our generation, dreaming of my moonwalk someday.

Garett said...

Apollo 13 has grown on me over the years, and I now think it's an excellent show. I thought Gravity was good but overrated. Looking forward to Interstellar.

I remember Mission to Mars and Red Planet came out around 2000. I was excited about both, and neither one was good, although they each had something going for them. I was hoping the Mars movies meant a new interest by the public in real space exploration. Didn't turn out that way, but maybe these new movies like Gravity and Interstellar getting high acclaim is an indication of new interest?

J.A. Morris said...

I'd probably pick 'The Right Stuff'. I wasn't alive during the Space Race, but I'm a big fan of history and historical movies. I think it did a good job capturing its era. And the space scenes were well done too.

Anonymous said...

Much as I enjoyed The Right Stuff, I think it pales a bit next to the real thing.

Documentaries are, of course, films too - something like For All Mankind strikes me as infinitely more watchable than a fiction. But then, I'm mad for anything about the cold war era space race.

The best film about that kind of thing is the recent Cosmonauts: How Russia Won The Space Race. Absolutely riveting. Its going to be shown on BBC 4 again on Tues 16th, and should be on the beeb I-player just after. Anyone interested in the subject won't be disappointed.


Martinex1 said...

I liked The Right Stuff. I should watch it again as it has been many years. I especially liked the early test pilot scenes with Sam Shepherd as Chuck Yeager. How about "Thunderbirds"? At least the puppets were named after the Mercury astronauts.

david_b said...

Sean, THANKS for that mention, never heard of it, but sounds awesome.

I love any documentaries on the Soviet space program... soooo much left unanalyzed.


david_b said...

Here's the Youtube link..:

"Cosmonauts How Russia Won the Space Race"

Anonymous said...

David - Great film, isn't it? Its blocked on youtube over here, so for anyone who needs it, you can see a few clips now and watch the whole thing after the 16th at


William said...

The best movie about space exploration was "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" (or some other Trek film). Hey, they explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations.

Related Posts with Thumbnails