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Running Time:
40 minutes

Rating: Unrated

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
A visually stunning but choppily structured IMAX attraction.

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D
The documentary's premise is that time has diminished awareness of the dozen U.S. astronauts who went to the moon between 1969-72. As evidence, a series of kids offer what they know about the program. "Lance Armstrong?" one suggests as the first man on the moon. The film's strength, besides the visuals, is that it goes beyond the obvious and iconic, beginning with its title, a quote by Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the second man to step foot on Earth's satellite. Embarking on "humankind's greatest road trip," the film puts viewers inside the cramped vessel and then outside as it touches down. Stills from the 32,000 photos Apollo astronauts took using large-format Hasselblad cameras create the awe-inspiring backdrop, whose stark beauty reminded Jim Irwin of Sun Valley. There's no denying the boosterism of the film, which is sponsored by Lockheed Martin; the space program's problems receive no mention, and the docu acknowledges the astronauts who lost their lives only at the end, in a dedication. Still, danger gets its due; director Mark Cowen, who also produced and co-scripted, includes an enactment of a hypothetical crisis. Even within the brief running time, "Desolation" feels repetitive and lacks a cohesive flow from one segment to the next. But as a tribute to the aviators and engineers who became lunar explorers, it is one of a kind, especially in heart-stopping moments like the camera's plunge down the 1,000-foot-deep Hadley's Rille, the moon's Grand Canyon. A cast of well-known actors, among them Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Matt Damon, Paul Newman and Scott Glenn, lend their voices, with musical compositions by James Newton Howard and Blake Neely helping to stir up the drama.

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