Alien Planet (2005)

by | Sep 13, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Alien Planet (2005)

Studio: Discovery Channel/Sony Pictures
Video: 1.78 widescreen, color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Closed captions
Extras: Extended interviews with Stephen Hawking, Jack Horner and others
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: ****

Another high-quality documentary created originally for broadcast TV.
Due to the same advances in cgi and animation that made possible the
dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and other films, it is now possible to do
more than just discuss the possibilities of life on other
planets.  It can be shown — or at least some of the imaginative
possibilities envisioned by various scientists can be shown. Some of
the experts involved in this thought-provoking film included Stephen
Hawking, Craig Venter and several NASA and JPL scientists — some of
whom explain how they came up with the very unusual creatures on their
imaginary planet Darwin IV. 

The voyage to the alien planet, 6.5 light years from Earth, is
undertaken by an unmanned pair of robot explorers who float around on
gas bags once they reach the distant sphere.  Since NASA staff
cannot control them remotely with a 6-year delay, the two explorers
must think for themselves.  They are equipped with an AV
presentation about Earth which can be shown to creatures their sensors
tells them might possibility be intelligent beings.  The first one
that is encountered only swings his large flexible blue tusks which
light up, accompanied by threatening roars. Later some very strange
floating beings are encountered (reminded me of the Navigators in
Lynch’s version of Dune), but the launch of a separate small robot
camera freaks them out and they destroy the one remaining robot
explorer. (Sorry to give away the ending…) The computer animation is
clearly state of the art, and the narration and enthusiastic talks by
the scientists make this a painless educational journey crossed with a
trippy sci-fi/anime spectacular.

— John Sunier

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