Good Night Oppy (2022)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Ryan White
Run Time
1 hour and 45 minutes
Oppy travels across the surface of Mars. (c) Amazon Prime

Ryan White’s delightful documentary is a good companion for Wall-E, due to the NASA engineers treating their two Mars rovers like they were their children. You don’t have to be a space travel fan to enjoy this true story that unfolded over six exciting months of 2003.

The film follows the development of Opportunity, the interplanetary Mars Exploration Rover that skilled NASA engineers developed and dubbed Oppy. They successfully launched and landed two rovers—Spirit and Opportunity– in the hope that they would last 90 days, during which they would explore and sample the soil and rocks of Mars. The goal was to look for evidence that the Red Planet once contained water and, maybe even supported life.

Spirit was launched on July 7, 2003 and Opportunity followed three weeks later, their journeys requiring six months. Both exceeded their 90-day life expectancy, and Oppy lasted for 15 years! Thus the film focuses more on Oppy and the incredibly long journey the 5′ 2″ tall rover equipped with robot arms made across the surface of the planet.

With Angela Basset providing the voice-over, White employs archival footage of soaring rocket launches, scientists and technicians NASA in their situation rooms, interviews with those who developed the two rovers. Adding to all this are the excellent CGI animations of the rovers’ adventures in space and on the surface of the planet, provided by the VFX experts at Industrial Light & Magic. The drama is enhanced also by a romantic score by Blake Neely. There is some additional music, because each Martian night Oppy was shut down to save power, and on the next morning “he” was activated with wake-up music consisting of beloved rock classics such as “Born to Be Wild” and “Roam.”

The many comments and cheers from the scientists are infectious, inciting the viewer also to relate to the little rover in a personal way. The film is a delightful tribute to the ingenuity and persistence of humanity. I saw it a few days before watching October Sky, the excellent 1999 film about a West Virginia coal miner’s son’s struggle to fulfill his seeming impossible dream to become a rocket scientist. White’s film would be a good follow-up to this biographical film, proof positive that the dreams of such youth to work at NASA are well worth the effort to bring them to fulfillment.

No set of questions for this film.

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