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August 10, 2010
Voyage to the Planets: A Traveller's Guide To Leaving Earth Blu-Ray Review
TV Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20104/8/2010Village RoadshowRichard Smith
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby Digital 2.0EN/A

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Jupiter's massive Red Spot is actually an Earth-sized anti-cyclonic (high pressure) storm.

When it comes to documentaries few companies provide productions as comprehensive as National Geographic Channel which is the company behind this release. With high production values, some great interviews, and slick editing this 5-hour, 6-part documentary is a brilliant look at our solar system. While the title may suggest something somewhat light and entertaining, this is very much a detailed, scientific look at how we could travel to other planetary bodies, and what we would encounter at each of these distant locations.

As a six part series, the sequence of episodes in Voyage To The Planets progresses from the most to the least hospitable planets and moons rather then starting with the closest planet to the Sun, that being Mercury, and then looking at each planet at a greater distance from the sun. The first episode looks at the most hospitable and most likely planet for colinization, that being Mars, and it's a lengthy, detailed look at the planet.

Each episode, which runs for approximately 50 minutes, is filled with interviews with various researchers and scientists, some gorgeous CG footage for each planet and location (from Hive Studios International), real photos and imagery where available, and also a look at similar locations on Earth which exhibit similar geographical properties.

Ever since I was a child I had a fascination with Science, and astronomy was one facet that always fascinated, and perhaps driven my love for science-fiction movies and TV shows such as Star Trek as well. So I have a fair knowledge of our planets and Solar system, but the amount of information I learnt in Voyage to the Planets was extraordinary. It's always easy to follow, but has a massive amount of details and facts but is engrossing at the same time. So much so that I watched all six episodes back to back in an afternoon!

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Voyage to the Planets (which is now out on Blu-Ray) has some great CG visuals.
This is, quite simply, a brilliant documentary series which covers all the major planetary bodies in our solar system. If you didn't see this series on TV earlier this year, you missed out, and we highly recommend you pick this up on Blu-Ray.

Voyage To The Planets is presented on Blu-Ray at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and this is a pretty good looking release. The video has been encoded at 1080i which is a little disappointing - 1080p would look that little better as the 1080i image contains some light aliasing. Having said that this is as good as a documentary such as this ever really looks and with a bitrate that often hovers around 20Mbps or higher there is plenty of room for the video to shine in this release. Images from spacecraft and telescopes are gorgeous to look at while the CG visuals are of a very high, almost film-like quality, and certainly among the best I've ever seen in a TV documentary.

The only audio option on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 640kbps. While somewhat disappointing there is no surround sound option this really isn't a release that needs it, although it may have added some extra wow factor in some of the CG, and in particular the flyby, shots.

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Voyage to the Planets is a great look at our Solar System, and is highly recommended on Blu-Ray.
Each of the episodes in this series is littered with interviews with various experts from the space community and relevant scientists which is always clear, while narration from Richard Roxburgh is easy to listen to and suits the tone of the documentary perfectly.

Sadly this release is devoid of any extras at all, but given the entire subject matter is a documentary, and mostly based on interviews and CG visuals, there isn't too much that isn't covered. Still, perhaps some additional details on how the gorgeous CG was created, or additional, extended, interviews would have been nice.

I really do love my documentaries and Voyage To The Planets: A Traveller's Guide To Leaving Earth is a detailed, comprehensive look at the planets and their moons of our Solar System. This really is a great release for anyone interested in the subject matter and with a RRP of only $39.95 it's hard not to recommend this release.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© ABC/Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.