What a beautiful, beautiful film, full of passion and tributes to the human spirit.
And, remarkably, director/co-screenwriter Ryan White does not focus on a human creature for his protagonist in “Good Night Oppy.”
The star, if you will, is a Mars Exploration Rover, called “Oppy” by the team that created it.
There were two of them back in 2004, which is when Spirit and Opportunity were launched. These extraordinary creations were supposed to operate for a shot time. But Oppy far “outlived” that prediction and kept transmitting data for 14 years.
I love the way White takes us on this adventure, using interviews with people at NASA and some animation to make the rovers feel like first cousins to “WALL-E.”
It’s an origins story of sorts, too, because we go clear back to the early 2000s, when NASA’s new mission to Mars developed with the hope of finding water, and possibly life, on the planet. The scientists who developed the robots seem to consider, just as the viewer does, that they are discussing two living beings.
We cheer on the launch and we celebrate when the rovers begin to transmit data. Watching the data create photos of Mars is inspirational.
Visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic are combined with archival footage to further engage viewers. Angela Bassett’s loving narration has the perfect pitch.
And the score … oh, the score. There’s no question that John Williams work influenced composer Blake Neely’s music that’s one of my favorite movie compositions this year.
Is it sentimental enough to make you shed a tear? Absolutely. I did, and so have several friends who have watched “Oppy.”
It’s well worth taking time to appreciate this memorable, well-told true tale about the NASA team and the rovers. I can’t think of an audience who won’t enjoy this journey.
Goodnight, Oppy. Well done.
Running time: One hour and 45 minutes.
Steaming on prime video.
Watch the trailer here.