If all the celebrations have given you a craving for more moon dust, head to the Virgin Media Store for some seriously out-of-this-world entertainment!
Moon Landing 50th Anniversary on the Virgin Media Store
We always had plans to become the world’s greatest ever astronaut. It was only the need to do all that studying and training and, you know, get off the couch that put us off. Fortunately, the Virgin Media Store is always on hand to fulfil our space needs and thirst for star-studded adventures of all kinds. (With the added bonus of experiencing it on a comfy sofa!)
And with the 50th anniversary of the still-astonishing 1969 Moon landing rolling around this weekend, what better way to celebrate than to bag yourself some out-of-this-world, space-related TV and films to feast your eyes on…
If you missed this 1998 HBO docudrama the first time round then it’s well worth a look. Co-produced by Apollo 13 collaborators Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the 12-episode miniseries documents the roller coaster story of the Apollo programme from its hare-brained beginnings to its breathtaking final voyages, providing a fascinating insight into the brave astronauts involved. And, if that wasn’t enough, Hanks himself directs the opening episode, and introduces each one.
As well as having arguably the softest voice in the known universe, Professor Brian Cox also happens to be an expert in all things astronomical. In this sumptuously shot series, he’s on hand to give you a guided tour of the universe and its, well, planets. Hugely informative, gorgeous to look at, awe-inspiring – this is everything a scientific space docuseries should be.
Despite the countless film and TV projects that have documented every single second of it already, Todd Douglas Miller’s latest documentary film somehow manages to provide a look at the historic voyage in a way that is as refreshing as it is breathtaking. Using previously unseen archive footage but dispensing with a soundtrack or any narration lends this gripping film a thoroughly original feel – it’s like you’re experiencing it all in person for the first time.
It’s almost impossible to mention the Apollo programme without referring to Ron Howard’s thrilling, Academy Award-winning 1995 film about the troubled 1970 lunar mission. Tom Hanks delivers one of his best performances as the astronaut tasked with aborting an attempted Moon landing in terrifying circumstances. Its attention to detail, Howard’s masterful direction and the brilliant performances make this a must-watch for any space enthusiast.
Director and co-writer Theodore Melfi gives the historical view of NASA a shake-up in this cracking drama, with Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monaé shining as the under-appreciated black mathematicians who were instrumental during the organisation’s breakneck Space Race with the Soviets in the 60s. Sharp dialogue, pitch-perfect performances, righting past wrongs, and maths – what’s not to like?
Stanley Kubrick changed the cinematic game with this legendary sci-fi movie, jumping thousands of years with one cut and throwing humanity into a terrifying conflict with the most unnerving AI ever seen (before those weird Burger King adverts, anyway). Things take a turn for existential, surreal, and downright baffling as astronauts investigate a strange monolith near Jupiter. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this classic, make sure to do so as soon as you can.
Fascinating archive footage and Harrison Ford’s brilliant narration offer an illuminating insight into the titular hero of this documentary. Many know him simply as the first human to set foot on the Moon, but Armstrong reveals the years and years of work and dedication that went into that one small step. Much like Apollo 11, it’s a raw and absorbing look at the momentous event.
Despite featuring about-to-be-huge stars like Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans and Rose Byrne, this chilling sci-fi thriller from Trainspotting director Danny Boyle – about a crew travelling to the sun in a desperate attempt to save the Earth – flew under many people’s radars back in 2007. If you like a side of science alongside your thrills, there’s plenty to like about this criminally underrated flick.
Stop sniggering at the back! Prepare to have your mind well and truly tripped up and tickled by this thought-provoking sci-fi. Three Billboards’ Sam Rockwell is an astronaut/miner extracting precious fuel from the Moon, but things soon take a turn for the creepy when he discovers he isn’t alone on the claustrophobic space station. The story’s gripping, the visuals are stunning, and the soundtrack (by Clint Mansell) is one you’ll have on repeat for months.
Where Moon is quiet, contemplative and thoughtful, The Martian is loud, emotional and even comedic – and for a film that features long sequences of Matt Damon walking around a greenhouse eating potatoes, it’s properly gripping. In the hands of legendary director Ridley Scott, writer Drew Goddard’s adaptation of the best-selling novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars has moments that perfectly portray loneliness, hope, terror and even silliness in a way that definitely does Andy Weir’s book justice.
Inception writer/director Christopher Nolan once again takes your brain for a trip through Whoa-What-Is-Going-On Town with this groundbreaking, visionary slice of sci-fi action. With crops failing and humanity’s days on Earth numbered, Matthew McConaughey leads a team of astronauts through a black hole to investigate whether there are other habitable planets out there. Tense set pieces, astounding visual effects and an epic soundtrack make this one of our favourite space-based films ever.
If you like your films to take you for a spin, a tumble, and a eardrum-pounding thrill ride, Gravity is the flick for you. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are the astronauts catapulted into a terrifying, out-of-control orbit after their space station is destroyed. Spectacular effects and Alfonso Cuarón’s genius direction make this a genuinely essential watch.
Still need more moonlight in your life?
There’s even more astro-tainment to be enjoyed as we mark the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing. Check out our round-up of what to watch here.
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