A great documentary in a unique location, with excellent visuals
This film is billed as the closest most of us will ever come to being in space. Given the IMAX 3D technology (which works near perfectly 80% of the time) you do come pretty close.
The cinematography is brilliant and the 40 years experience of the IMAX film production really show - expect most of the filming is done by astronauts, which make it even more amazing. Filmed on location quite literally 'all over the world' (though identifiable parts are the Kennedy Space Center in the US, 'Star City' in the CIS and *somewhere* over West Africa), this is about an international film as you are going to get.
There are many totally unique sequences in this film: the opening one is a very good computer simulation of a space-walk mishap in which an astronaut becomes unattached from the Space Station. Later on they do this for real to test the emergency back-pack unit.
The sound is, as one would expect from IMAX, excellent. The sub-base adds amazing realism to the launch sequences and docking maneuvers - you can really feel the 'thumps.'
The scenery, especially of earth is breath-taking and very well framed. Also, there are some more human moments: such as the watering of onions that spouted in storage, the birthday party (was it? Or a crew change-over?) and the 'other' scene of stowing provisions (I'll not spoil the humor on this one) that could have probably only been filmed in free-fall by people actually living there.
This film exposes the contrast between the CIS & USA space programs: in the former, the equipment is chunky, reliable and functions at minus 20 C; in the later neat, tidy and delicate (the Shuttles seem to need a near perfect day to launch by comparison). Yet the two do indeed work very well together in orbit, as do the truly international crews: USA, Canadian, Russian, Italian and Japanese all work alongside each other on the missions and the filming. This 'one-ness' is stressed by both the editing and voice-overs given by the astronauts. It is perhaps un-surprising then that the odd environmental point is made about looking after the planet. As a film, this is short: under an hour. This is probably long enough: you can hold your breath only so many times before passing out. The minor detractor is Tom Cruise's narration: at times it is just a little too intense and grates after a while (though this is highly personal: I ignored it and looked at the pictures).
This film is great publicity for NASA and goes someway to silencing the neigh-sayers of the ISS / space exploration projects.
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