Blu-ray Review: Journey To Space - 4K UHD + 3D Blu-ray

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New from Shout! Factory comes the odd little release, Journey To Space. It's odd because quite an elaborate package has been devoted to what amounts to a 45-minute PSA for the splintered, stalled space program. Trumpeted as being narrated by Patrick Stewart, only about a third of it actually features the familiar tones of Captain Picard (a pair of real-life astronauts share narration duties: Chris Ferguson and Serena Aunon). The film's title itself is depressingly generic—more suggestive of a grade-Z '50s sci-fi film than a serious documentary. The two-disc Blu-ray package includes a 4K ultra-high-definition disc as well as a disc with both the 3D and 2D versions (a 2D-only configuration is available as well).

Journey To Space begins by briefly covering the rise and fall of the space shuttle program before touching on theoretical plans for Mars exploration. There are some beautiful images along the way, including breathtakingly clear shot of various shuttle launches. Hubble telescope shots are laced in late in the program and are also a feast for the eyes. But overall the problem with Journey is that it feels incomplete and almost offhanded. This is the kind of doc that would be a nice accompaniment to a science center/museum display. As a premium-priced (for those who opt for the 4K plus 3D version) release, it leaves quite a bit to be desired. 
journey to space BD (302x380).jpg Audio and visual presentation is very solid, with both the 2D and 3D versions looking basically perfect. That's given the fact that much of what's included is archival footage. The strange choice to frame some of that archival footage within a static background (like watching an online video against a full-screen wallpaper image) is an aesthetic blunder. However, that choice doesn't really hinder what is an enjoyable viewing experience overall (without 4K UHD capability, I haven't yet been able to soak in the optimal presentation level).

Audio is available in Dolby Atmos, which defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you (like me) aren't yet ready for Atmos. Special features are light indeed. The "behind the scenes" featurette is woefully superficial and only runs about five minutes. There's also a couple minutes of still images (presented as an auto-advancing slideshow) and trailers. Ultimately Journey To Space is probably more suitable as a demo disc for those wishing to show off a tricked out 4K and Atmos-equipped system. As a documentary, Journey To Space is surface-scratching fluff, at best.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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