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I've always been fascinated with outer space and the planets in our solar system. That is why I was intrigued by the release of MARS: THE RED PLANET ($25), a DVD that takes a detailed look at one of our closest neighbors in the heavens. Right up front, let me say that this DVD isn't designed for those individuals looking for a documentary about Mars. Actually, one could think of this DVD as everything you ever wanted to know about Mars... but were afraid to ask. MARS: THE RED PLANET takes advantage of the interactive nature of the DVD format, which allows the individual to explore the planet through via actual images of Mars. The disc offers an entertainment mode with about ninety minutes of audio/video programming, plus an interactive mode. The interactive mode is probably best for anyone wishing to play explorer, since it allows the view go where they will on this Martian DVD.

The DVD offers Planetary Views with six separate camera angles, so that one can view every bit of the rotating red globe. Additionally, four Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks of music accompany the Planetary Views section of the DVD. The viewer can change the angles on the fly, or allow the DVD to show all six orbits of Mars on its own. The Surface Views section contains 2-D and 3-D images of mars (a pair of blue/red glasses included for that 3-D effect). The images come from the Mars Pathfinder mission and allow one to journey around the Lander and see surface details in 2-D and 3-D. MARS: THE RED PLANET also comes with a Mars Mission section, which provides a complete international history of every manmade object sent to Mars (or currently on the drawing board). The DVD also contains Interactive Maps that allow one to see the charted surface of the planet by zooming in and zooming out, as well as jumping around in the maps various directions. The Gallery section delivers 33 Martian artworks by three artists that specialize in creating rendition of outer space. This section is complemented by a synthesized rendition of Gustav Holst's The Planets, performed by Ryan Shore. The Slide Show section takes a detailed look at some of the most distinct features on the Martian surface, including craters, volcanoes, mountains and canyons. The Slide Show section includes music and informational subtitles. MARS: THE RED PLANET also contains over 200 hundred Easter eggs (hidden features) for intrepid Martian explorers to find. Consumers that find the most Easter eggs have the ability to win prizes. MARS: THE RED PLANET is also DVD-ROM enabled, with screen savers and access to special web features.

DVD International has done a terrific job with MARS: THE RED PLANET. Both the audio and video quality of the disc is excellent and the interactive features are very well implemented. While not the kind of disc that will appeal to the average couch potato, MARS: THE RED PLANET is the kind of disc that will appeal to anyone with the slightest interest in science, astronomy or just our little red neighbor in the heavens..




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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