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‘Space’ informative, inspiring docu – ‘Valedictory tribute to NASA’s past accomplishments’

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 31, (RTRS): Eyes will be duly popped and imaginations stirred by “Journey to Space,” a valedictory tribute to NASA’s past accomplishments that offers a sneak preview of the agency’s exciting next frontier. Balancing rich footage from previous shuttle missions with a fascinating survey of forthcoming innovations (including but not limited to tools that will enable a human landing on Mars in the next 25 years), writer-director Mark Krenzien’s informative and inspiring documentary has grossed more than $10 million since its February release, and should continue to benefit from a resurgence of public interest in space travel — aided in no small part by “The Martian’s” hit status — as it makes its way along the giant-screen circuit.

A famous opening quote from Carl Sagan — “We began as wanderers, and are wanderers still” — sets an appropriate tone of limitless possibility for a picture that suggests humankind will never run out of new worlds to explore. But before it peers ahead into the future, “Journey to Space” offers a fond look backward with a sort of cinematic obituary for the 30-year space shuttle program (1981-2011), complete with shots of the shuttle Endeavour being flown to its final destination at the California Science Center (requiring some tricky maneuvering through the busy streets of Los Angeles).

With its 42-minute running time, the film can only skim the surface of the program’s accomplishments, including the 40-plus flights it took to construct the Intl. Space Station and the various missions to repair the Hubble Telescope, the subject of 2010’s excellent Imax doc “Hubble 3D.”

Older audiences who have seen that film and others, including “Space Station” (2002), will be familiar with the sort of “Look Ma, no gravity!” archival footage presented here, in which astronauts from different flights are shown experiencing the pleasures and challenges of weightlessness (kids will have fun grasping at lollipops floating outward from the screen during one of many goofy astronaut hangouts). The film emphasizes the international camaraderie that enabled US space shuttles to dock with the Russian station Mir in the ’90s, glossing over the many difficulties and hazards of post-Cold War space collaboration in service of a general spirit of teamwork and optimism that, it’s implied, will drive us toward ever richer and more surprising vistas to come.

Technologies

We get a tantalizing look at those vistas in the film’s second half, as well as the pioneering technologies that will enable astronauts to reach them. These include Orion, a new craft designed for long-term, deep-space exploration, and Olympus, an inflatable habitat that will serve as an expanded work and living area for those on board. Even the smaller innovations, such as a study to improve space-suit mobility (juxtaposed with footage of clunkily clad astronauts falling over on the moon’s surface in 1968), provide an absorbing glimpse into the minds of engineers tasked with visioning and troubleshooting our way forward. The film culminates in much informed speculation about the likelihood of a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, teased by rover-captured photos of the red planet’s surface.

The appeal of “Journey to Space,” then, is as much a matter of information as presentation. The images of space — a closeup of sun flares, a shot of a nebula — are impressive as advertised but never feel like the main attraction, and the film overall would be not be much less absorbing in 2D, or on a smaller screen. Patrick Stewart handles the narration duties with practiced gravitas.

Siblings Andy and Barbara Muschietti, director and producer of “Mama,” a US chart-toper in 2013, brothers will produce the next project of Alex and David Pastor, supernatural thriller “In Shadows.” Spanish writers-directors, the Pastors, also siblings, have carve out a name on the international genre scene, with “The Last Days” and “Carriers.”

EOne is in advanced talks with the Muschiettis to board “Shadows.” A Spanish commercial broadcaster is also studying the project for possible co-production.

“‘Shadows’ is a twisted coming-of-age story, a dark tale where supernatural horror is a manifestation of the most mundane horror the characters face in their daily lives. Unfolding along two different timelines, the movie explores how the horrors of the past can haunt us all our lives and define us as adults,” David Pastor explained to Variety.

The Pastors’ new title turns on Jason, a man who comes out of prison after serving 20 years for an unspeakable crime, and is forced to confront the terrible events of his past that sent him there.

“In a similar way to features such as ‘Near Dark’ or ‘Let the Right One In’ that gave the genre a spin, a twist, ‘Shadows’ will do the same,” said Andy Muschietti.

“We wrote the kind of genre movie that as audience members we long to see: a character-driven horror film that is as scary as it is emotional, a supernatural tale that uses its fantastical elements to explore the darkest impulses of its characters,” Alex Pastor added.

The Pastor brothers have just shot “Incorporated,” a futuristic thriller pilot , which they also wrote, also for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Productions, Universal Cable Productions and CBS Television Studios.

The Argentine-born Muschiettis are two of Argentina’s highest-profile producer-directors, working genre films with international mainstream appeal.

Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastainm, chiller “Mama” cumed $147 million worldwide. The Muschiettis are Barcelona-based, having founded the Toma78 production shingle there. They also have offIces in L.A.

“‘Shadows’ is also the story of two brothers and the complex relationship between them, which is a very appropriate first collaboration for us and the Muschiettis!,” the Pastors joked.

It is scheduled to go into principal production in the first quarter of 2016. Screenplay has been penned by Alex and David Pastor. Pic is currently casting.

Muschietti are putting together a packed slate of projects for Andy to direct and Barbara produce or both produce. “We’ve been working hard for the last year and a half to have a significant lineup to develop,” Barbara said.

Andy Muschietti is preparing “It,” a Stephen King adaptation that would be made as two feature. Recently announced, Andy Muschietti substituted Cary Fukunaga on a New Line project. Shoot would take place next summer, partly to allow for work with children, as they have the main roles in the first part. Casting is in process. “Will Poulter (‘The Maze Runner,” ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’) would be a great option. For me he is at the top of my llist,” Andy advanced to Variety.

Andy Muschietti is also attached to direct “Shadow of the Colossus” for Sony, a much-awaited adaptation of the vidgame.

Regarding the Steven King adaptation, “King described 50s’ terror iconography. And I feel there’s a whole world now to rediscover, to update. There won’t be mommies, werewolves. Terrors are going to be a lot more surprising,” Andy announced of his potential update.

Also swelling Muschietti’s slate, Barbara revealed that they have just bought rights to award-winning graphic novel “Anya’s Ghost,” by Vera Brosgol. They are in talks with scriptwriter Patrick Ness (“Juan Antonio Bayona’s “A Monster Calls”) to pen the script.