Space Station 3-D

Space Station 3-D

Directed by Toni Myers

By watching grainy film of grinning astronauts spinning weightless pens in Apollo capsules, the star-gazing public of the ’60s had their imaginations sparked like no generation had before — but the fascination didn’t last, except in childhood daydreams. Since then, shuttle launches have become so commonplace, few give those crystal-clear video shots from space much more than a cursory glance. Try as they might, today’s NASA-covering media cannot capture and hold a viewer’s attention any better than their predecessors. The concept of space travel — to float in zero gravity while looking down upon Earth — is so unnatural that earthbound humans simply cannot grasp just how fantastic it is.

Space Station, IMAX’s 65mm entry into the summer blockbuster arena, doesn’t just capture an audience’s attention — it commands it, for the Lockheed Martin-sponsored project was filmed in 3-D. Wearing a state-of-the-art visor-helmet that’s a far cry from those cheap paper glasses, you finally get a real taste of what it’s like to fly like Superman, and to finally see our planet like the astronauts now orbiting above us do. With this incredible technology, you aren’t just watching a film — you are convincingly tricked into feeling like you’re a participant in the action.

Consuming miles of film, specially trained astronauts-turned-camera operators documented the story of the International Space Station over the course of three years. Narrated by Mr. Top Gun himself, Tom Cruise, this movie boggles the mind from scene one — when you accidentally slip off of the space station, unattached tether floating before your eyes. Before you become truly terrified, the extremely realistic virtual-reality training session ends — and your journey truly begins.

From there, you’ll experience a sensory-blasting Soyuz launch at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome from an unsafe distance — complete with debris cracking your visor-lenses. With bubbles swirling around your head, you’ll observe practice drills conducted underwater in a huge tank, and eventually follow two crews of astronauts and cosmonauts into outer space — where it really gets interesting.

From 220 miles above the earth’s surface, you’ll become part of the team getting the International Space Station ready for habitat, and later in the adventure, watch as the shuttle Atlantis-ferried crew adds more sections to the erector-set-resembling contraption. Along the way, the astronauts and cosmonauts describe daily life aboard the Station as you watch them assemble gear, have dinner and write home. You soar down corridors alongside them, and stare in fascination at globes of water floating right in front of you, while an astronaut gobbles them like tossed grapes. Like a space-suited fly on the wall, one comes to appreciate just how lonely and claustrophobic it can be to circle around the earth for months at a time. But, as the camera focuses on an engineer sleeping in her bunk — accompanied by The Drifters’ “Up On the Roof” — and then pans to a window shot of the blue planet below, one realizes just how extraordinary and peaceful the astronauts’ day-to-day existence must be.

From an adult’s viewpoint, the pace could be accelerated in spots — and there could be more of those teeth-rattling launches and weightless wrenches flying past one’s head! Also, Cruise’s lowest-common-denominator dialogue gets tiring after a bit, but, then again, the purpose of this film is to refocus the public’s attention on man’s greatest endeavor — and to educate and inspire children. The astronaut-filmmakers achieve these goals and more; the 3-D reality we’re shown is much more vivid than any Star Wars CGI Lucas could concoct… and kids just might discover that even the most fanciful of dreams can become a reality.

Space Station is currently showing at IMAX theaters nationwide.

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