Monday, January 13, 2014

Galactic Adventures Double Feature: 3D Sun / Mars 3D Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
3d sun marsFrom Earth, the Sun cannot be looked at with human eyes. Narrated by Al Roker, 3D Sun gives audiences a chance to see the Sun up close in startling 3D.  Stand above the arctic circle and witness the most brilliant auroras on Earth; take a ride on a solar blast from Sun’s surface to Earth’s Magnetosphere, and come to a deeper understanding of what this vast sea of fire means to life here on Earth.  In October 2006, NASA launched twin spacecraft from a single rocket in Florida — a spacecraft that would, for the first time in the history of space exploration, capture space-born, high-definition 3D images of the Sun.  In 3D Sun, the leading NASA scientists from the mission unveil these images and take us behind the scenes to tell the story of the Sun and why it is of crucial importance to all of us.  Mars 3D takes viewers behind the scenes of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission revealing daily dramas, mind-boggling physics and compelling science behind the $820 million dollar NASA project.  Behold this celebration of space exploration and the human stories behind the mission, how engineers plunged the depths of gravity and physics to ensure a successful launch an landing and how two 380 pound rovers will bring scientists closer than ever before to solving the mysteries of Mars.


Films (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

3D Sun (3 out of 5 stars)     Mars 3D (4 out of 5 stars) 

We’ve all seen footage of our Sun and Mars before, but with each new leap of technology employed, the images of both just keep getting better and better.  When NASA deployed satellites to provide stereoscopic footage of the Sun and a pair of cool Mars Exploration Rovers for Mars, the footage that they got back was the most lifelike and amazing to date.  Both of these features have been packaged together into a 3D/2D experience which is a good thing since they both run about twenty minutes each.
3D Sun is the weaker of the two programs because most of the running time is spent talking about the sun or using CGI to make its points instead of the actual sun.  After hearing about solar eruptions, magnetic fields, and doomsday scenarios, we finally get to see the new stereoscopic images of the sun which are pretty spectacular.  In fact, the images are so good, you wish that more of the running time had been devoted to them instead of the rest of the filler.  Al Roker does a serviceable job narrating this feature, but this is pretty dry material and it doesn’t help that the program is such a tease by making us wait until the very end to see the best parts.
Mars 3D on the other hand, was a lot more interesting because it followed a more traditional approach and because of the awe and interest that the planet has always held for viewers like me. I had followed the news reports of the Mars rovers like a lot of other people and I was deeply impressed by how well their missions had gone and how impressive a feat it was that NASA was able to pull it off amidst the severe budget cuts to the agency.  In this program, we get to hear from the NASA employees directly responsible for different aspects of the mission and we get to see the behind the scenes suspense that took place when the rovers were deployed to Mars and their excitement when the images and test results started being transmitted back to Earth.  Not only did the Rovers prove once and for all that water did exist on Mars at one time, but we also get to see Mars in 3D which is very very cool.  I just wish that both programs had longer running times but there’s no denying how amazing the Sun and Mars look in 3D!

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

2D Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)    3D  Video (3 out of 5 stars)

While 3D Sun is 1080p, 3D Mars is 720p for some unknown reason and neither of them can be called reference quality although 3D Sun is the better of the two as it offers a sharper image.  3D Mars has many soft looking shot and it just doesn’t fare as well thanks to the lower resolution. Both fall victim to what appears to be low budget production values which affects the look of the programs and also the CGI used.  In both cases, I would have to say that the 2D versions looks better than their 3D counterparts, which is a statement I rarely make.  Both versions have issues, crush, noise, and aliasing but the black levels are decent.   Out of the two, 3D Sun looks the best but they both could have been better.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

3D Sun (3 1/2 out of  5 stars)    Mars 3D (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

3D Sun and Mars 3D both offer a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix which is appropriate for the material but both could have been better.  Narration and dialogue are both clear and clean sounding and the various sound effects are accurate and prioritized well.  Both of these are primarily front channel mixes but every once in a while the LFE channel makes its presence known.

Extras (1 out of 5 stars) 

There’s nothing here but trailers to their other movies which is very disappointing considering that you are paying full price for a pair of movies that run about 45 minutes combined.
Trailers - Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3DMummies – Secrets of the Pharaohs 3DDinosaurs Alive 3DDinosaurs – Giants of Patagonia 3DLegends of Flight 3DWild Ocean 3DRescue 3D, and Space Junk 3D.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars) 

Despite their short running times, I enjoyed both of these programs and I especially liked the real 3D footage which is the entire point that people want to see these.  That footage is amazing to see but it’s all too brief and you have to wait until the end of both to see it.  As far as the Blu-ray itself goes, the video and audio quality could use some improvement and the extras are very disappointing.  When the movies are this short they should have given us some extras to make up for it and to justify the cost.  Not to mention the lack of extras also severely dropped the final score down so it’s a shame.  This is recommended for those people that really want to see the Sun and Mars in a new way, but be aware that the total running time for that good footage is about ten minutes combined.
Order your copy today!
3d sun mars

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