Anyone who ever fantasized about space travel but can't afford the $20 million ticket to ride a Russian rocket should catch this IMAX offering. Narrated by Tom Cruise, this spectacularly photographed, 40-minute film is the first IMAX production shot in outer space; it's a perfect match of content the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) and IMAX's large-screen 3D format. Orbiting some 250 miles above the Earth's surface, the ISS is a wildly ambitious international collaboration involving 16 countries (including the U.S., Russia, Canada and Japan) with the goal of building a laboratory in space. The various components of the ISS are built on Earth and then ferried to the celestial construction site by means of NASA space shuttles. The movie opens with a virtual-reality training exercise that simulates the terrifying prospect of drifting off during a space walk, and includes thrilling footage of several liftoffs, as well as a more mundane look at the day-to-day space lives of the predominantly Russian and American crews. There's something unusually beautiful about the slow-motion pas de deux that occurs as the various parts of the ISS are fitted together, a graceful sight Stanley Kubrick imagined as a Strauss waltz in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. And the zero-gravity environment inside the station's cramped quarters ensures that there are plenty of floating space tools, popcorn and blobs of water floating perfect for 3D. For this project, IMAX developed two compact 3D "space cameras" capable of shooting the separate left eye/right eye footage that creates the 3D effect onto a single strip of film. Quite an achievement, but like the ISS itself, it's hard to say whether it's worth the extraordinary effort and expense that went into it. Aside from the paradoxical assertion that the ISS will somehow help in the search for a "better way of life on Earth away from Earth," its ultimate function remains vague. The film is sponsored by Lockheed Martin with the cooperation of NASA, both of which are deeply involved in the development of the ISS, so it's not surprising that none of the questions that have swirled around this project like, who'll foot the bill if any one country defaults on its contribution? are answered, or even addressed.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: Anyone who ever fantasized about space travel but can't afford the $20 million ticket to ride a Russian rocket should catch this IMAX offering. Narrated by Tom Cruise, this spectacularly photographed, 40-minute film is the first IMAX production shot in out… (more)