BLAST!

BLAST!

Cast: Paul Devlin, Barth Netterfield, Mark Devlin, Victor Davison

     
 

Filmmaker Paul Devlin follows his brother, Dr. Mark Devlin, and a dedicated team of fearless astrophysicists as they take a spectacular journey into the heart of the Big Bang. There comes a point in everyone's life when they begin to wonder about the origins of the universe, and Dr. Devlin's world-class team turns that heady speculation…  See more details below

Overview

Filmmaker Paul Devlin follows his brother, Dr. Mark Devlin, and a dedicated team of fearless astrophysicists as they take a spectacular journey into the heart of the Big Bang. There comes a point in everyone's life when they begin to wonder about the origins of the universe, and Dr. Devlin's world-class team turns that heady speculation into a full-time job as they prepare to launch a multi-million-dollar telescope affixed to a NASA high-altitude balloon. When it comes to a sensitive job like this, it's important to ensure that the smallest details have all been accounted for because the misplacement of a single microchip could lead to major disaster. Now, as the team transports their telescope from the Canadian North down to Antarctica, the sacrifices, failures, and triumphs of their remarkable journey are captured on camera for the joy of astrophysics fanatics everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
The Paul Devlin-directed science documentary BLAST! feels competent, intelligently made, and reasonably enjoyable, if unspectacular. It's the account of a U.S.-Canadian hybrid science team, comprised of Philadelphia-based college professor Dr. Mark Devlin (the director's brother) and a host of other astrophysicists, who have devised an ingenious method of exploring the origins of the cosmos: a super-powered telescope, attached to a balloon, that enables them to "look back into the past, billions of years," to witness the formation of stars. Dr. Devlin theorizes that given the length of time it takes for light from a very distant star to reach us, what we are seeing when we gaze at any one star actually happened billions of years in the past. Therefore, he argues, gazing at hyper-magnified stars via the instrument in question represents an unusual method of witnessing the birth of the universe. The concept is utterly fascinating, and it deserves serious documentary treatment. Surprisingly, however, in lieu of exploring the men's findings for 70 minutes (which would seem an obvious move), the film primarily covers the events surrounding two launches of the BLAST (Balloon-borne-Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope) -- an initial one in Northern Sweden and a sophomore voyage in Antarctica. This isn't necessarily a detriment; the efforts generate real fascination, and suspense as well, with the question of the experiment's success versus failure hanging in the balance -- particularly when the inevitable array of unforeseen problems begins turning up and threatening to ruin six years' worth of work. Paul Devlin's execution feels solid. He carefully and coherently lays out the scientific principles for the audience in the first 15 minutes of the film, gradually introduces us to several key members of the team, and then documents their struggles to launch the balloon into orbit. He also makes a wise move by undergirding many sequences with aesthetically engrossing images -- such as the cool blue Antarctic skies and solid white sheets of tundra beneath -- or time-lapse photography of the men constructing the scope over a period of several hours, neatly and persuasively conveying the exhaustive amount of work behind each launch. The CG animations also feel top-notch. In the most mesmerizing moment, the film begins with an up-close illustration of our galaxy and gradually pulls back to reveal that celestial body as a tiny pinprick of light in a massive celestial quilt with untoward numbers of elements, while Devlin reflects in voice-over that the experiment ultimately means investigating how the human race began. As well-conceived as all of this is, other components of the film feel less satisfying. The motion picture incorporates a metaphysical undercurrent that surfaces via two of the scientists' theological disagreements: one participant, Toronto-based professor Barth Netterfield, is a Christian who perceives the hand of God behind the order of the universe; Dr. Devlin is an agnostic evolutionist who fails to perceive any need for God or evidence thereof. By contrasting Netterfield's and Devlin's perspectives and emphasizing the fact that both believe wholeheartedly in the experiment, the film raises the intriguing question of whether spirituality and modern evolutionary science can conceivably go hand in hand, but the documentary only grazes this issue; it feels somewhat underdeveloped. The film could have used more of this discussion and fewer saccharine cutaways to Devlin's home life in Philadelphia that emphasize the heart-tugging sweetness of his children -- those scenes merely function as filler material used to distract the audience from the lack of narrative momentum in between launches, and they grate on one's nerves. In the final analysis, however, the motion picture succeeds at keeping the audience concurrently entertained and informed. One walks away satisfied with the results, but insatiably curious about the findings to be deduced from the telescope's imagery in the years to come -- which, given the film's subject matter, is perhaps as high of a compliment as it could receive.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/28/2011
UPC:
0767685247884
Original Release:
2008
Source:
New Video Group
Time:
1:14:00
Sales rank:
81,432

Special Features

Additional scenes including "Werner Herzog Visits Blast" ; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- BLAST!
1. Launch in Antarctica [2:37]
2. What Is Blast? [4:05]
3. Stakes of the Experiment [3:16]
4. Launch Delayed [7:07]
5. Launch in Sweden [7:16]
6. Recovery From Canada [7:50]
7. Preparation for Antactica [5:01]
8. Intro to McMurdo [3:32]
9. Building Blast Cape Evans Vacation [5:01]
10. Living in McMurdo [4:18]
11. Focusing the Telescope [2:19]
12. Launch in Antarctica [4:47]
13. Catastrphic Landing [8:43]
14. The Data and Maps [3:52]
15. Epilogue [1:37]
16. Credits [2:23]

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