Blu-ray Review: ‘Journey to Space’

Journey to Space

As a longtime resident of Houston — aka Space City — I’m a huge space exploration fan. As such,  I want to support Journey to Space, a Giant Screen film from 2015 arriving  June 7 on home video, with a single-disc Blu-ray and 4K UHD + 3D Blu-ay + Blu-ray two-disc combo, both from Shout!Factory.

But as a reviewer I must be honest, and honestly, the material here feels overly familiar for anyone who’s paid cursory attention to NASA’s doings from the Shuttle program onward.

Yes, space is awesome, so it feels funny saying “been there, done that.” But we’re not talking space — we’re talking filmmaking.

Besides, the wow-factor of a theatrical presentation with an enormous screen, ear-blasting sound and audience involvement is understandably muted when the program is brought home. And at just over 40 minutes, along with minor extras, Journey to Space barely has time to reach orbit before it’s over.

The film’s final stage is when it really takes off, via an ending devoted to planned Mars missions to take humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s. We also see development of new NASA rocket Orion. (It’s about time, JSC.)

But up until then, Journey to Space is largely a rehash of the decades-long Shuttle program, highlighted by its building of the International Space Station and repairs of the Hubble Telescope.

Sorry, but that’s old news, which makes it a narrative yawner. The Shuttles’ remarkable feats have been shown and revisited just as ably many times before. And it still rankles me as a Houstonian to see celebrations of retired shuttles’ installations elsewhere, when the home of manned space flight — and all of America between the east and west coasts — didn’t get one.

The script strives for eloquence but can be simplistic if not hyped. It also belabors the concept of humans as wanderers as if explaining that to a child. Compelling reasons to explore space go far beyond a “because it’s there — and we’re wanderers” mentality.

Narrator Patrick Stewart lends some gravity, but having him say Earth’s oceans have “infinite” depths doesn’t cut it for a science-driven film which can’t even presume to claim infinity for the universe, which is a bit deeper ocean, wouldn’t you say?

Still, if you savor the boldness and discoveries of space exploration, as I do, any film about that is worth some support. I admire the hell out of the people who made these space events happen. I just wish this film about them was more fresh, insightful and authoritative.

— Bruce Westbrook



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