As titles go, BLAST! promises a lot. But it's an acronym, for Balloon Launched Astroseismology Telescope. And as interesting as a movie about scientists trying to create and launch a new, low-cost space telescope might be, the film never approaches the whiz-bang fun that acronym suggests.
Paul Devlin's documentary follows a NASA-funded team over 18 months as it attempts to put a telescope on an ultra-high altitude balloon to search for stars as they're being born. The film gives a solid science lesson that covers the speed of light, the crowded nature of the heavens and the way BLAST might offer "a quantum leap in our understanding of what's going on in the universe." If they can ever get it off the ground.
Set mostly in Scandinavia and Antarctica, the most interesting scenes have to do with chasing the telescope down after it's landed.
Fascinating stuff for astrophysicists, I am sure. But Devlin's movie (the chief scientist is his brother Mark) can't make the mildly dramatic setbacks into high drama. Thus, there's no thrill of victory, agony of defeat to BLAST!, just plucky scientists and grad assistants starting over when things don't go the way they should.
Screening at: 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Regal; 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, Regal.