Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets (2004)

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Released 5-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Robot Pioneers
Featurette-Making Of
Notes-Fact File
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 118:04 (Case: 191)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joe Ahearne
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Martin McDougall
Joanne McQuinn
Rad Lazar
Mark Dexter
Michelle Joseph
Mark Tandy
Hélène Mahieu
Lourdes Faberes
John Schwab
Colin Stinton
David Suchet
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Don Davis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Independent television production company Impossible Pictures specialise in CGI based docu-dramas that bring its audience into unfamiliar environments of wonder and beauty. However, these programs have the added benefit of providing the audience with an informative and educational narrative to the fictional story. Impossible Pictures in partnership with the BBC have created many superb series, including the fascinating Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Beasts.

    This successful partnership has turned their attention to the world of deep space exploration in this dramatic documentary, Space Odyessy: Voyage To The Planets.

    The story is revealed in two fifty nine minute episodes, with narration provided by David Suchet. The story moves along at a cracking pace. The scenarios depicted in the program are based on science fact rather than science fiction. An impressive list of highly qualified consultants assisted in the making of this series, including former astronauts and respected scientists from the world's various space agencies.

    A relatively small crew of five embark on a six year mission to explore the wonders of our solar system. This crew are a combination of scientists and engineers from various countries, specialising in different fields and with unique individual responsibilities in the mission. The crew consist of Mission Commander Tom Kirby (Martin McDougall), Flight Engineer Yvan Grigorev (Rad Lazar), Mission Scientist Zoe Lessard (Joanne McQuinn), Mission Scientist Nina Sulman (Michelle Joseph) and Medic John Pearson (Mark Dexter).

    Their vessel and mothership for the journey is the nuclear powered Pegasus. This is an impressive space station that also carries all the various landing craft that will be used for aspects of the mission.

    The 2,246 day mission plans landings on various planets, moons and a comet. With each aspect of the mission comes different obstacles and dangers that must be overcome. The crew and their equipment must endure extreme temperatures, massive amounts of radiation and incredible atmospheric conditions on the expedition. This provides much of the drama in the program, as well as some from dubious and potentially dangerous decisions made by Mission Control back on Earth.

     Space Odyessy: Voyage To The Planets  contains many scenes of awesome power and beauty, especially when viewed on a large display. However, the program is let down overall by some occasional corny dialogue and flimsy acting. The fast pacing of the script also tends to weaken the authenticity of the storyline.  

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is of very good quality.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the correct aspect ratio, which I believe (but cannot confirm) to be 1.85:1.

    This transfer exhibited an excellent level of sharpness and clarity throughout. Blacks were deep and clean, with no low level noise evident. Shadows were also of a high standard and held very good detail. These aspects were very important to the overall appearance of the transfer due to the vast amounts of dark space on display throughout the program.

    Colours varied depending on the situation and location of the scene. To increase the authenticity of many scenes, colours were muted down or manipulated in some way to achieve the desired effect. Colours in general terms were quite superb, exhibiting wonderful balance and saturation.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident. The only artefact that was noticed was some occasional and very minor aliasing. There were no film artefacts present in the transfer. As with the colours, many scenes are deliberately degraded to give the effect of using low resolution cameras and footage taken under extreme conditions. To achieve these effects, lines, grain and other interference was added with outstanding results.

    This DVD features English subtitles for the hearing impaired. They are white in colour and are very easily legible.

    This is a single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at 36:06 during the The Robot Pioneers documentary and is noticeable, but not problematic.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is also of very good quality.

    There is one audio track on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality is always clear and easily understood throughout the episodes. I found no problems at all with audio sync.

    The musical score by Don Davis complements the action on screen effectively. Davis is an Emmy Award winner, with extensive film composing experience including the films of The Matrix trilogy. His score for Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets is suitably dramatic and inspiring.

    The surrounds mirrored much the same audio as the front speakers. There appeared to be very little in the way of channel separation, but this still aided in immersing the viewer in the action.

    The subwoofer was very active, adding enhancement to the music and bass effects in the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The selection of extras on offer here will please fans of this series very much.

    The menu design is outstanding and features 16x9 enhancement and wonderful animation combined with looped samples of Don Davis's score. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Featurette - Space Odysessy - The Robot Pioneers (49:01)

    This interesting documentary is dedicated mainly to the use of robotics in space exploration, both in this series and in NASA's various unmanned missions to the planets. It discusses all the robotic missions from the Venus missions of the sixties through to the "New Horizons" mission to Pluto, due to commence in the next couple of years. It also ventures into behind-the-scenes aspects of the series, going on location to film some of the planet scenes. This documentary also features interviews with many of the people involved in this field of human ingenuity. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Featurette - Making of...

    Four short "behind-the-scenes" featurettes centred on different aspects of the making of the series. All four make very interesting viewing and provide some excellent insight into just how much time and effort went into the making of the series. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Photo Gallery 

    Here you can manually select 153 images from the series. Many of these photographs are behind-the-scenes images.

Fact Files

    Extensive facts and figures on factual elements of astronomy as well as the fictional aspects of the series. These are presented in text form and are well formatted and very easy to read.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     At the time of this review, there is no R1 version available of Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets.

    An R2 UK version is available and seems to be identical to this Australian R2/4  version.

Summary

    Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets presents us with a grand tour of our solar system in the form of a dramatic documentary, although at times the plot is not totally convincing and it is not as compelling as Walking With Dinosaurs. The CGI effects are, however, still highly impressive. This fact alone makes this a voyage worth taking.

   The video and audio transfers are both excellent.

   The selection of extras are worthy and relevant.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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