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Good Night Oppy Is A Masterclass In Documentary And Storytelling

good night oppy poster

Good Night Oppy Is A Must-See

Isn't it nice when you come across a movie that you somehow missed the boat on and then when you watch it you wonder how you missed something so incredibly amazing?  Well, that's exactly what happened with me and Good Night Oppy.  I'm trying to figure out how I missed this amazing docu-movie from Amazon Studios which tells the story of Opportunity, nicknamed Oppy, a Mars rover launched in 2003 that was supposed to last 90 sols (Mars days) and ended up plodding along the Martian surface for 15 years!  The other mystery of how I missed this is two of the production companies that brought us this masterpiece are Amblin and Industrial Light & Magic no less.

The production quality is simply first-rate throughout its 105 minute runtime.  The movie is a mix of documentary and a gripping Martian movie so we get to hear from the actual clever people who achieved this amazing feat of putting not only Oppy on Mars but another rover too, Spirit who is Oppy's more stroppy and temperamental sibling.  If that wasn't enough, we also get a mix of quite simply stunning CGI from the ever reliable Industrial Light & Magic to depict Oppy's and Spirit's wild adventure across the surface of Mars.  Genuinely, you won't be able to tell what is real footage and what was created.
oppy martian surface
Director Ryan White has done a tremendous job with Good Night Oppy and has made the audience actually care for a machine.  Just like R2-D2 & Threepio or Wall-E you will, by the end of the movie have emotional feelings for a machine.  With the advent of A.I. and being featured prominently in the news recently this movie shows that humans can actually have an emotional bond with A.I. and machines.  A sign of the future, perhaps?

In an interview with The Guardian, Ryan White explains how Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was a major inspiration for him:

“ET was my favorite film growing up,” He explains that Spielberg’s ET provided him with direction for shaping a story around a machine whose sole purpose is to study space rocks. “It’s a film about a non-human character that hopefully the audience will bond with or feel this emotional attachment with. And then at the end of the film, you have to say goodbye to that character. It’s sad, but it’s also very hopeful.”

To accompany the movie we have a glorious mix of soundtrack from Blake Neely and the "wake-up" music that would be played as part of a tradition each morning to get the crew in the right frame-of-mind.  Listen out for songs from The Beatles, Abba, The B-52s and many more.

The movie is currently on Amazon Prime and is one of my favourite movies of the year (it was released last year hence my latecomer amazement.)  Even though it's educational, the movie plays out more like a Pixar classic and as mentioned the rovers both take on a personality of their own.  Incredibly, they both have more character than a lot of current movies and TV shows.  In fact I wouldn't object to a TV series featuring just Oppy and Spirit.  After all, there's 15 years of material!

Score - 10 out of 10.
Rob Wainfur
The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.


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