Friday, August 20, 2010

Hubble 3D

What is it about space that so captures our imagination? Is it the vastness that seems to becon, almost tease us, upward and outwards to explore its seemly endless wonders, or is it simply how it allows us another perspective in order to see how small and relatively unimportant one tiny blue dot is in the grand scheme of things? Whatever the reason, since man first turned his gaze to the sky we've been captivated with that final frontier just outside our grasp.

Since it's launch two decades ago the Hubble Space Telescope has been responsible for several breakthroughs in the areas of astronomy and an increased understanding of the known universe. The new IMAX documentary Hubble 3D gives us a short history on the telescope, and its early struggles, before exploring the final service mission of to repair the telescope by the Atlantis crew.

If you aren't a science nerd before seeing the film, you will be afterwards. The documentary blends footage from multiple Hubble service missions, taken with IMAX cameras (including the 3-D camera taken on this final mission), along with the launching of Atlantis and footage from Hubble itself. Although only 45 minutes in length the documentary delivers more than most films three times its length.

The subject of 3-D is often debated. Now that it's back in vogue Hollywood is taking some heat for several films which have used the concept of 3-D to try and cash-in at the box office without really asking the most important question: Will 3-D make the film measurably better? The answer with Hubble 3D is a resounding yes. From shots of the Earth to the creation of new stars deep inside the Orion Nebula, it's breathtaking.

Not since Avatar has the use of IMAX and 3-D technology been used to so completely immerse the viewer in a fantastic world (and in this case it has the added benefit of being real!). Although the footage of the crew doesn't really shed any new insight into the space program it does ground the film with a needed necessary human element. And although Leonardo DiCaprio might not have been my first choice as a narrator, his enthusiasm and referential tone provide just the right note for the documentary.

It may be short in terms of running time but there's no short-changing the audience here. Informative and awe inspiring, Hubble 3D shows us just what we're capable of, and how much further we have to go.

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