Film in review: “Challenger: The Final Flight”


Noah Mruz, Film Reviewer

I am sure at one point or another in your film and TV viewing, you have come across a reference to the 1986 Challenger disaster. Have you ever stopped to wonder though, what truly happened on that tragic day? Netflix’s four-part documentary “Challenger: The Final Flight” takes the viewer through what happened on that fateful day, Jan. 28, 1986. This film reviews what led up to the disaster, what happened as a result of it and discusses how exactly it happened. “Challenger: Final Flight” engages the viewer with its interesting subject matter and its excellent use of archived footage with modern interviews.

Like most Netflix documentaries, this one is an interesting and compelling watch. However, this one is unique, as it discusses something that is often referenced but rarely looked into with depth: what exactly happened on that flight. It may seem like an easy answer but getting into the complexities of how this explosion occurred becomes an interesting study that the film takes the viewer through, at times making you feel like you are investigating it yourself. It is also important to remember that this tragedy was something broadcasted around the nation due to it being the first space flight to feature a private citizen: a schoolteacher from New Hampshire named Cristia McAuliffe.

“Challenger: The Final Flight” begins with almost entirely archived footage of the news broadcast from January 1986, showcasing the excitement of all the spectators and the media at this monumental launch. It takes you through the joy, to immediate heartache that was felt on the ground. This is paired with modern interviews that showcase how and what the interviewers are feeling and going through. The interviews are pretty standard in their filming and set up, but the subject matter is what makes them impactful and interesting.

The Challenger Disaster is an event that lives in infamy in the United States. “Challenger: The Final Flight” takes that story and showcases to viewers the pain felt not only by the nation, but by the loved ones of those involved. Due to the constant display of Netflix’s documentary lineup, the style chosen here can feel similar to “Making a Murderer” and “The Last Dance”, but the story told is what is truly important here.

I am giving “Challenger: The Final Flight” a 3.5/5 stars.