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Hubble 3D - Movie Review

Heading for Hubble and Beyond

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Hubble 3D - Movie Review

Hubble 3D Poster Art

Warner Bros./IMAX
Hubble 3D is a thrill ride from start to finish. That said, this documentary isn't exactly a thriller, like The Cove or Steep, for example. In fact, from the outset -- from before you walk in to the theater, even -- you know the Hubble 3D story and the film's out come, too. But what you can't anticipate until the lights dim and the film blasts off, is the extraordinary exhilaration of joining astronauts on their space mission -- thanks to the wonders of IMAX 3D. If you don't find the Hubble 3D trip an absolute high, you're really lacking in imagination.

Suiting Up, Taking Off and Space Patrol

The 3D puts you in the middle of astronauts suiting up for blast off, carries you in to space aboard the Atlantis Space Shuttle, situates you at the elbow of astronauts making near-impossible repairs to the gigantic Hubble Telescope and gives you an astronaut's-eye view of Earth -- so beautiful and fragile-looking in the distance below.

The seven astronauts on the Hubble mission are heroic, compelling characters. But even more compelling is the film's extraordinarily beautiful footage -- shot by an astronaut with an IMAX camera or through the eyes of Hubble -- that takes us on awesome exploratory voyages into outer space.

We observe birthing stars, and those that are dying, and nebulae with gaseous emissions that spew far across the blackness of space like the gloriously colorful wings of a butterfly or look like an all-seeing eye with an iris that's bigger in diameter than our entire universe.

While we travel through these mesmerizing images, we listen to narrator Leonardo DiCaprio deliver -- in a tone that mixes just the right proportions of gravitas and wonder -- some of the scoop about what you're seeing. DiCaprio explains in easy-to-understand terms what it all indicates about the foundations and future of outer space.

Re-Entry and Getting Grounded

Photo taken from Hubble Telescope

Warner Bros./Imax
Actually, DiCaprio's narration breezes through some extremely complicated astrophysical concepts, referring to the birth of baby stars that may or may not break out of their cocoons and survive to become big stars, and to the existence of young tadpole stars so called because they have little tails created by space winds so strong they'd make earthly hurricanes seem like slow motion, or to donut-shaped masses of gasses said to be what Earth might have looked like before it was properly formed into the planet we know and love.

This cloud of information and the marvelous 3D images sweep by you and when the visceral experience of the movie is over -- in what seems like the blink of an eye (it's just 42 minutes long) -- you're left in a bit of a fog of curiosity about what star births and masses of gasses really are and what causes the phenomena you've just witnessed in space. You might think your lingering curiosity is the product of a film that's failed.

Quite the contrary! Hubble 3D is a wonderful stimulus for greater exploration and study. Use it as a point of departure for learning more about the Hubble Telescope, NASA and space exploration, and the conclusions that teams of scientists have drawn from Hubble's revelations.

One Hand Clapping

One experience you won't get while watching Hubble 3D is the sound of space, and that's disappointing. Since the big thrill of the film is being there, I really wanted to know what there sounds like.

Sound waves, as we all know from physics 101, travel through media -- air or water, for example -- and volume varies according to the density of that media. So, what does the absence of media -- the vacuum of space -- sound like? I'd like to know.

It may be that the sound of space is something that cannot be transmitted through media as we know it. It may be that humans can't hear it. Maybe the sound or silence of space is something that calls for meditation -- like the sound of one hand clapping - but the subject isn't even referenced in the film, and that seems to be an oversight.

Not that the film lacks sound. It features a nonstop sound track of beautifully orchestrated, often rousing music that is, unfortunately, quite distracting. It doesn't drown out DiCaprio's voice, nor does it override the astronauts' comments, but it does pulls you out of the wonderous moments of being in space and disrupts the breathtaking virtual 3D adventure that Hubble 3D otherwise provides.

Music aside, this documentary is a genuinely thrilling trip. So, break out of cyberspace, don a pair of 3D specs and hop aboard Hubble 3D for a memorable journey to outer space.

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Film Details

  • Hubble 3D - 2010
  • Director: Toni Myers
  • US Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2010 (IMAX)
  • Running Time: 42 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Location: USA, Outer Space
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Production Company: IMAX Space, Ltd.
  • Distribution Company: Warner Bros./IMAX

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