Plot: Adam (Eric Hanson) works at the engineering firm that is handling a lot of duties for the space shuttle Challenger launch, a prestigious and high profile opportunity that involves a lot of attention and income. Less than a day remains before launch, but Adam is convinced there are safety issues with one of the shuttle’s seals, though no one seems to want to listen. Of course, if the shuttle launch is delayed, it would mean a lot of lost time and resources, perhaps even the engineering office losing the contrast, so while Adam’s concerns are looked at, the reaction is skeptical. As time passes and the launch looms, Adam tries to raise red flags and delay the launch, though it seems as if his concerns will be in vain.
Entertainment Value: I had to see this one, as Dean Cain in a movie about the Challenger disaster is a concept I couldn’t resist. As it turns out, Cain’s role in this movie is rather small and the film proves to be a thoughtful, accurate look at the engineering issues that led to the tragic events. The tone is serious of course and while the pace is quite slow, the attention to detail and care put into the exploration of the pre-launch events is interesting. A lot of time is taken to explain the engineering involved and the prominent staff members that were part of the launch, so the focus is on their actions, not the actual space program. The grounded, science driven approach is a unique and informative one, but at the same time, the slow pace and middle of the road acting isn’t likely to dazzle. So while again, I appreciated the accuracy and detailed look at the science behind the tragic event, The Challenger Disaster doesn’t work well on the entertainment front. I often complain when real life events are overly dramatized, but in this case, a little more liberty might have worked wonders. If you’re interested in an in depth look at the Challenger explosion or engineering elements in general, perhaps you will find more to like here.
I think a good portion of viewers will check out The Challenger Disaster thanks to Dean Cain’s presence, but as I mentioned before, he isn’t one of the main characters and has limited screen time. His performance is fine, but without much to work with, he isn’t able to make much of an impression. But that is due to his small role and not his effort, as he seems to do what he can. Cain’s work is a coin flip in these lower profile movies, but he turns in solid work here. The best performance in this movie belongs to Glenn Morshower, who brings his usual sincere, rock solid skills to the table. He has the right persona and presence to pull off the serious, tense tone of the material, so he was a natural choice to appear here. The rest of the cast is fine, but no one stands out as overly on point or memorable. This is perhaps due to the material’s reserved approach and lack of drama, but I can’t say that for sure. The cast also includes Eric Hanson, Brandi Price, and Cameron Arnett.