First Run Features // 2010 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // May 26th, 2012
"Travel in space ended up being more transformative than I originally anticipated." -- Richard Garriott
Why would Richard Garriott, a successful game designer, spend $30 million -- the majority of his net worth -- to spend time on the International Space Station? Why not? While I've never particularly yearned for that adventure, I believe the rich should be at least a little different, so Garriott's quest struck me as perfectly reasonable, especially considering that he followed in his father's astronaut footsteps during his 2008 trip.
Of course, it takes some vision to be rich. Garriott saw opportunities up there: he did some research on protein crystallization, which could help pharmaceutical companies, and he created some art, which will help science education charities. He also perfected a zero-G card trick, which could prove useful if David Copperfield ever visits the space station.
Man on a Mission introduces the world to this crazy rich guy, follows his preparations for the trip, and then takes us along on the trip. Rather slick for a documentary, the film offers beautiful footage and music, but the main attraction is Garriott himself. He's enthusiastic and well-versed on space travel, which makes him the perfect ambassador for space exploration and research. Garriott is also someone who's been to the South Pole and into the Amazon, so he can handle himself well enough not to look silly, most of the time (creating a body mold for a seat liner put that to the test).
The DVD contains lots of short extras, including "Apogee of Fear," a silly spoofy bit which Garriott says is the first sci-fi movie made in space. Viewers will have to see "Post-Game Wrapup," which follows Garriott's research and art after he lands. Other shorts include "After Touchdown," which follows up on Garriott's life; "Richard's 30 Year Space Plan," in which he comes up with a practical plan for encouraging space research; "Does Richard Own the Moon?," about his purchase of a Soviet lunar pod; "Magic Time," on doing card tricks and eating M&Ms; "Ride the Boran," on a spacecraft-turned-simulator in Gorky Park; and "Conservation Laws in Zero G," an old film in which Garriott's father drops a cat to simulate motion in space (or something like that). There should be a "play all" option, since all these shorts are, well, short, but they're mostly interesting; if you enjoyed the film, you'll want to see them all.
In the end, Richard Garriott turns out not to be crazy, but to be an interesting fellow. His mission turns out to be an interesting one, too.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Run Features
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated