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BMZ Review: Space Station 3D
By Herb Lash


SPACE STATION 3D is Space For Everyone
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: April 2002


Category: Reviews

There is a relaxing beach house near NASA's Cape Canaveral launch complex where astronauts preparing to blast beyond the wild blue yonder get to chill out and enjoy some last quality time with Mother Earth. NASA could have a pretty good bash on its hands at the beach house if it invited all of the astronauts, cosmonauts, international scientists and tourists who have ever been to space. But it would still be a fairly intimate gathering. From first in space Yuri Gagarin to the men and women currently working on the International Space Station - it's a pretty exclusive number of people who know first hand the fun of zero gravity. Don't give up hope - space travel may be within your grasp. If you have early and unswerving dedication, incredible drive, fabulously good fortune, fantastic health and some serious brains in your skull - you can be like astronaut Colonel Susan Helms and make your space dreams come true. Or you can be like math/financial wizard Dennis Tito and slip Earth's surly bonds by forking over about twenty million dollars to the Russians for a seat aboard one of  their Soyuz rockets bound for the International Space Station. If you don't have the right stuff to be an astronaut and you don't have billions of dollars - there is another way to reach orbit. Your mission will require about ten bucks and forty-five minutes of your time - you will have to go buy a ticket to see IMAX's SPACE STATION 3D.

Real IMAX cameras were launched into space and operated by real astronauts aboard both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS.) The
Giant Screen loves few things like it does the wide-open vistas of space.  There are images in this film that truly belong to the human historical record - these are rare home movies shot aboard humankind's collective outpost to the universe. Many a space traveler has quipped that as long as there is a window in sight, there is no such thing as a bad seat on a space ship. The same might be said of filming in space - everywhere the camera looks there is something worth seeing. The astronauts shot about twelve miles of film during missions spanning over the last three years. One can only imagine the wealth of information and images that never made it into the film. It must have been a difficult task for the filmmakers to cull through the hundreds of hours of breathtaking footage in an effort to carve out the documentary.  Fortunately, the images in SPACE STATION are spectacular enough to outshine the thoroughly average narrative. This Big Movie could have been immensely better - but still, where else can you go to float above an Earth horizon, drift with space walkers and watch as a lonely Space Shuttle bids farewell to the Space Station and falls back to the void. SPACE STATION 3D is quite simply as close to the real thing as most of us will ever get.

Tom Cruise narrates the film with a genuine sense of enthusiasm, respect and admiration for the efforts of those making the construction of the ISS a reality. The film employs a flat, industrial filmmaking style in describing the training, technology and strategy being employed in this massive, multi-national undertaking. Don't look for APOLLO 13-type suspense here.  Sorely missing from the documentary are animated graphics or schematics that give an overview of mission objectives - there is no real sense of participation and it is not always clear what exactly is at stake in terms of Space Station construction.  Russo-American harmony is on full display and there are more than a few enjoyable human moments captured in the film.  Eating, drinking, sleeping, working, exercising and clowning around - it turns out that almost everything is more fun in zero gravity. We get brief and friendly get-to-know-you sequences with the astronauts/cosmonauts - Susan Helms' bright personality and world class zero gravity afro often steal the show.

The 3-D scenes are occasionally eye-crossing and this film is probably not the ideal showcase for IMAX's phenomenal 3D technology. But in those moments where the 3D effect is booming the sensations is. . . indescribable. The spacescapes in the latest installment of STAR WARS will undoubtedly thrill audiences this summer - all of them counterfeit thrills. The images from SPACE STATION 3D will quiet, awe, humble and inspire you precisely because they are real. Susan Helms was inspired to become an astronaut after seeing the IMAX film DESTINY IN SPACE. During her first space shuttle mission she looked out the window towards Earth below and her first exclamation was, "It really does look like an IMAX movie!" So go be an astronaut for a little while, go see this Big Movie and help make some future astronauts - take a kid.

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