It’s rare that a documentary can so perfectly open that an audience can be immediately captivated with minimal information, and Good Night Oppy executes this flawlessly by both encapsulating the sheer scope of what this history-making rover faces on the surface of Mars while also being wildly endearing as a living character that we will come to care for in the same way her creators and the NASA scientists assigned to her did. It is often difficult to blend the past and present well while maintaining a captivating narrative, but Ryan White (The Case Against 8) and his team weave the story of this monumental task and those instrumental for its success into such a compelling picture that I almost forgot it is all real.
The use of music by Blake Neely (The Flight Attendant) within the opening hooked me immediately beyond the amazing visual start with a score that continues matching this film’s mood to accentuate every piece of interviews and archival footage. The hardest part of making a film like Good Night Oppy is filling in the gaps for which we would be unable to see, but the visuals used to bridge all of these gaps in the storytelling by Industrial Light & Magic continues to prove whey they are the foremost company on the planet (and beyond) and had to be the only choice here.
Given that this is a documentary, one thing that could be overlooked is the way the story itself is put together for something that was a fifteen-year endeavor. Ryan White and Helen Kearns (Assassins) handle this task expertly, adding just enough seasoning to an already exquisite meal in the way they intercut the rover diaries and comedic moments while giving the narration of Angela Bassett just the correct amount of exposition to educate the audience.
To be honest, I am typically bored with documentaries, especially with topics of which I already have cursory knowledge. I love that this is an exception to this rule for me as I was entertained for each and every moment of Good Night Oppy. I truly hope this gives its audience a chance to experience its sense of adventure and spectacle in high-premium formats, and I personally cannot wait to watch it again on a big screen with friends and family.