Ok, so I often say that I'm more of a nerd than a geek. I'm mostly a Humanities nerd and avoid the sciences, but I love, love, LOVE space and astrophysics. I'm such a nerd that I go to free lectures at JPL about various space missions. So when I saw a panel for Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey, I was crazy excited. Cassini is a real space program that's made some incredible discoveries recently, and now it's the basis of a 3D large format CGI animated feature.
Quantum Quest is present as a dynamic story, a conflict between The Core--light and the stars, voiced by William Shatner--and the Void--emptiness and antimatter, voiced by Mark Hamill. The Void existed before the big bang and wants to destroy the Universe by destroying humans. (If humans don't exist there's no one to observe the universe and it basically doesn't exist in The Void's rationale.) The main character is a photon named Dave, voiced by Chris Pine, who's forced out of the sun to save the Cassini spacecraft and embarks on a journey through the solar system.
The panel was a lot of fun, featuring a few of the voice actors, including Doug Jones(!), the composer, and the writer/director, a mad scientist named Harry Kloor. He chipped in some interesting science, like how he wrote in the script that photons "surf" the solar wind only to have that proved by NASA two years later and the crazy new possibilities of life on Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus.* The composer talked about using actual sound from the Cassini mission in his score. The poster designer talked about what he did, which was bizarre. And then Chris Pine called in, and the ladies, and a few gentlemen, went wild. Kloor held his iPhone up to the mike while Pine talked about the process of voice-acting and filling kids with wonder and inspiring them to like scince and giving everyone the vapors.
Quantum Quest hits theaters in early 2010 and features the voices of Abigail and Spencer Breslin, Robert Picardo, Sandra Oh, Amanda Peet, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen, and Neil Armstrong, in addition to Pine, Jones, Shatner, and Hamill. It looks like a really fun movie in addition to being educational and inspiring. I cannot wait.
*Sorry to totally nerd out, but Titan is the only known place in the Universe other than Earth to have rivers and lakes of standing liquid. Enceladus has massive ice geysers that constantly spew into space, creating Saturn's E-ring and hinting at the tantalizing possibility of life under the surface. That's freakin' exciting guys.