REVIEW – “Good Night Oppy”

Way back in 2003, NASA launched two rovers named Spirit and Opportunity to Mars. They both landed on different sides of the planet, designed to explore and research the unknown of Mars. The two rovers weren’t expected to last anymore than 90 days, but the twin rovers defied expectations at every turn and ended up lasting well-past their supposed expiration dates. Spirit was active for nearly seven years past the mission date, as she finally ended her mission in 2010. Opportunity exceeded her life-expectancy by nearly fifteen-years, not shutting down until 2018. These rovers captivated the hearts of people around America for their time active, and Good Night Oppy is a wonderful exploration of how they came to be and defied the craziest of odds when no one expected them to.

Good Night Oppy definitely delivers what you’re expecting in terms of learning more about what these rovers went through on their missions on Mars, and how their day-to-day life operated. However, one of the most surprising and warmest parts of this film was just how much you get to know the faces at NASA that helped get Spirit and Opportunity to Mars. While there are many more people that factored into this equation that couldn’t all fit into this documentary, the film does a wonderful job at exploring the humans that not only created them but worked with them for nearly their entire time being active. It is genuinely emotional to see people start so young and see them go through major life events as these rovers relatively don’t change at all. This is a really beautiful angle that the film approached, and I thought it worked wonders by the end as it got some tears out of me.

Good Night Oppy is also, simply put, a really good story about perseverance. No matter what lens you look at the film through, it’s undeniably inspiring to see not only the rovers themselves go through so much and get out of the roughest and most dire of situations – but it’s deeply compelling to watch everyone at this branch at NASA collectively come together to solve a problem together, and help get their rovers out from any mess they find themselves in. As the film spans the course of roughly fifteen-years, there is plenty of ground to cover with all the obstacles these people faced – and it makes for a more than compelling movie.

From start to finish, Good Night Oppy is simply just a really heartwarming and life-affirming picture. Does it take the cheap-shots at equating the life-span of a rover to that of the human experience? Sure. Does it take any huge swings narratively? Not really! But it’s one of those true stories that just feels fantastically, authentically documented with a ton of heart. It’s a fascinating story, regardless of how well you remember this happening in real-time. As someone who is now 25 and only vaguely remembers when these rovers were launched when I was a kid, I found it to be delightful to see the inner-working of the true-story I thought I knew.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s