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Title: Journey to Space 4K (3D)

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
3D :3.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :1star:
HTS Overall Score:84

Space, the final frontier. Ahhh, I don’t care who you are, but the prospect of going to outer space has fascinated people for generations and still is a high interest subject for many people today. Some may find the idea of going to the moon as pedestrian, or child’s play being that we have conquered that particular feat many years ago, but the vastness of space still holds many secretes, especially since we have not been able to travel outside our own solar system (manned that is) yet. The secrets in the great black abyss are tantalizing and keep us wanting to strive to get to that next milestone. “Journey to Space” acts as a short IMAX documentary that gives a fairly cursory, but entertaining, overview of the U.S. space projects and the different voyages undertaken. The short film seems to want to invigorate the viewer with the knowledge that we’re on the verge on a new generation of space travel, but seems to spin its wheels a bit as it seems to be more of a memorial to the old shuttle program more than anything.

“Journey to Space” is basically cobbled together from about a dozen or so different sources, with footage ranging from the Apollo days to more recent footage of astronauts training for space flights, and even some CGI rendering thrown in for good measure as they get us geared up for the upcoming attempt at a manned mission to Mars (something films have theorized about and fictionalized for many moons). There’s a ton of interesting footage in the documentary, with some a mixture of narration by Patrick Steward along with astronaut Chris Ferguson (who takes up a bulk of the narration despite the advertising of Patrick Stewart on the front cover) documenting the origins of the shuttle program and the different missions each shuttle has flown. However, there is a distinct feeling that the documentary is more of a cheerleader exercise for the shuttle program and the upcoming space program that is under way with intent for Mars. Opening up with a line from Carl Sagan about the curiosity of man and our ability to wander, the script doesn’t seem to wander very far, but is instead focused more on the last several decades of our space flight program in what seems to come across as “advertising”.

While the shuttle seems to take the focus of the picture, it makes more sense when the script gets to the introduction of the International Space Station, where it shuttles (he he, quite literally) astronauts back and forth in their exploration of even DEEPER space than we have gone to in the past. Watching these astronauts describe their experiences and their anticipation of the future actually is a more than a bit interesting as the viewer starts to feel the anticipation and the excitement of going OUTSIDE our own orbit and past the moon for the very first time on a manned ship. Likewise, when Serena Aunon comes in for the narration and we get into the nitty gritty of the Mars exploration project the excitement comes back as we get to see all the new technology and the new innovations that are going to drive mankind into the outer rim of our solar system (comparatively). This section of the film is where some extrapolation of the visuals come into play and some definitely CGI material is introduced as a “this is what we WILL be doing” material is covered. It’s a fun little exert to the drama and seems to reinforce the theme that the entire premise of the documentary is to garner excitement for the upcoming mission to mars (no, not the sci-fi movie) and to cheerlead the U.S. space program.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video :4.5stars:
The 2D Blu-ray encode is a fantastic bit of digital and analog photography, and like I said at the beginning of the review, it is cobbled together from a dozen or so different sources to create the final picture. Some of the older bits with black and white photography show their age, but mostly the image looks fantastic. Supposedly all of the source elements were brought together and scanned in at a whopping 11k for the transfer. Yes, that was an 11k transfer! The resulting image is finely detailed and filed with all sorts of brilliant colors. Some of the digital bits look extremely glossy and sharp, with other archival footage coming in a bit softer, but never so bad as to really be a negative on the film. However it is kind of mitigated by the fact that much of the archival footage is put in a sort of “picture in picture” window that is shrunk down and overlaid onto the main image, thus making the imperfections and flaws of the older footage not as apparent. I do have to say as a disclaimer that this rating is based off of the Blu-ray included in the 4K ultra HD package and as it has a 2D AND 3D encode on the disc I can’t verify if it is the exact same encoding as what is in the standalone Blu-ray release.

The 4K UltraHD edition just looks that much nicer. I noticed off the bat that it allows you to choose whether or not to play the 4K edition in either HDR or SDR which is a first in my limited experience with the 4K editions I’ve reviewed and screened for myself. The colors tend to pop just a little more (check out the oranges and reds on mars during the flyover bit) and the black levels retain more shadow detail and clarity than the 2D encode does. While I rate both encodes as a 4.5/5 on the scale, please keep in mind that a 4.5/5 4K rating is different than a 4.5/5 1080p Blu-ray rating as they are graded on their own individual scales.

3D :3.5stars:
The 3D for the disc is pretty good, and actually shows some rather nice instances of depth and layering in the space sequences. Sadly some of the layering only accentuates the picture in picture method of showing archival footage at times. I didn’t notice any major artifacting or loss of light in any of space shots, and the inky blackness of space shows some incredible depth and inclusion of fantastic looking detail. The overhead shots of Earth look absolutely breathtaking and some of the sequences taken from Mars exploration vessels will leave your jaw on the floor. It’s a solid 3D entry and while it may not be the best of the best showcases some nice dimensionality.

Audio :5stars:
“Journey to Space” has an absolutely awe inspiring Dolby Atmos track (7.1 TrueHD core for those of you without Atmos setups) and will rock you back in your seats with an impressive sonic experience. The roar of the space shuttle lifting off will clue in early on that you are in for a bumpy ride as the whole soundstage lights up with the roar of the engines and rush of the jets as escaping gases from the blast propel the shuttle into the atmosphere. Dialog is always crisp and clean with the narration taking center stage and a few bits of recorded dialog sounding really nice despite the age of the recordings. The LFE is punishing and unrelenting throughout adding in a nice layered sense of excitement with a pulsing undertone and comes into full power with scenes of the shuttles taking off or the roar of a spacecraft as it makes its way to Mars. The surrounds are never lacking for any type of activity as they are awash with little beeps, boops and other effects to create a fantastic sense of immersion.

Extras :1star:

(on both Blu-ray and 4K-UltraHD Blu-ray)
• Gallery
• Behind the Scenes

Overall: :4stars:

“Journey to Space” doesn’t exactly go anywhere inventive, and in fact seems like an advertisement for the U.S. space program, but it is an entertaining and visually stimulating documentary that does the job at getting one interested in space exploration. The visuals are simply incredible and the 4K editions seems to be the version to get, as it contains the 4K disc, and a regular Blu-ray disc that incorporates both the 3D and the 2D editions, while the normal Blu-ray release ONLY has the 2D version on the disc from what I can tell. While it may not blaze new trails, it’s a fun little jaunt and at least worth a rental.

Additional Information:

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Christian Gardner, Gabrielle Gardner
Directed by: Mark Krenzien
Written by: Mark Krenzien
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Shout! Factory
Rated: NR
Runtime: 45 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 7th 2016

Buy Journey to Space 4 4K UltraHD Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Journey to Space Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Fun Rental

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