Man on a Mission
Film Review by Kam Williams
Space Travel Documentary Chronicles Computer Geek’s Ride aboard Russian Rocket Ship
Ever since he was a child, Richard Garriott’s dream was to follow in his father Owen’s footsteps by becoming an astronaut. After all, during his formative years he got to watch his dad train before rocketing into orbit aboard NASA Skylab and Space Shuttle missions.
But Richard was ruled ineligible for consideration because of his poor vision, so he had to pursue another line of work entirely. He nonetheless went on to enjoy astounding success as a computer programmer, most notably as the inventor of the successful series of Ultima fantasy games.
Still wanting to experience space travel, Richard eventually approached Russia about becoming a cosmonaut, and was allowed to purchase a ticket aboard a Soyuz launch for $30 million. So, at the age of 47, he was finally able to fulfill his elusive lifelong dream.
The long road to that unlikely achievement is carefully recounted in Man on a Mission, a triumphant biopic chronicling the extra-terrestrial exploits of a nearsighted nerd-turned-21st century Buck Rogers. Provided you can get past the specter of a self-indulgent rich guy spending so much money to become the first father and son in history to escape the Earth’s gravity, the picture is actually fairly fascinating.
The film reveals some rather intimate details about life aboard the International Space Station, from how the crew members go to the bathroom to how they stay in shape to how they keep themselves entertained by juggling and doing card tricks. They also conduct scientific experiments, even Richard, who was given the assignment of documenting exactly what happens when ice melts in outer space.
The movie has its funny moments, too, like when a couple of astronauts floating opposite head-to-toe keep accusing each other of being the one who’s upside-down. Plus, there is the sobering interlude when Richard expresses his apprehension about the danger of immolation during the capsule’s fiery reentry into the atmosphere at the end of the 12-day trip.
Revenge of the computer geek!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 83 minutes
Distributor: First Run Features
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Man on a Mission