How close to reality is the journey of the "Prometheus?" The long-running science program NOVA offers a point of comparison in "Mars Dead or Alive," an in-depth look at the Mars Exploration Rover mission to the red planet. As a bonus, see the results of NASA's efforts in the follow-up episode, "Welcome to Mars."
The manned missions featured in sci-fi films like the "Alien" or "Star Trek" series run into a lot of trouble from outer space, but what about more mundane issues? "Astronaut Down"explores the life-threatening danger posed by disease and injury while in space when there's no Dr Leonard McCoy or his fully stocked sick bay.
There's the all-too-real danger of catastrophe back on Earth in the form of climate change, as "The Age of Stupid" reminds us. A film that creatively and obliquely uses time travel of a sort, Fanny Armstrong's film is conceptualized as originating from the ecologically ravaged 2055, with its main subject reviewing footage from our present-day as a cautionary tale for what could, and likely will, happen if we don't change our ways.
Sci-fi is not all doom and gloom and its presentation of a vibrant future is very much part of its appeal for some audiences - the kind of optimism evident in "Safety Not Guaranteed." Tariq Jalil's "A Galaxy Far, Far Away" explores what makes the universe of "Star Wars" so popular, in the lead up to the release of "The Phantom Menace," while Mark Edlitz’s "Jedi Junkies" profiles some of the franchise's super fans -- from light saber squads to metal bikini-clad Leias.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Indiewire @ Hulu Docs" is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu's Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Indiewire selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under "Featured Content" in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).