Space Station 3D

on April 19, 2002 by Jordan Reed
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If you watch TV, you may have noticed a recent Burger King ad in which theatre full of dark-shade-wearing folks gape up at a three-dimensional Whopper as it oh-so-tantalizingly hovers above their heads. Don't let the idiocy of that spot prevent you from checking out the new IMAX film "Space Station 3D," and don't walk into it expecting a sandwich to float off the screen.

Instead of focusing on fast food, "Space Station 3D" recounts the 16-nation collaboration to build the International Space Station (ISS), a laboratory designed to provide a zero-gravity environment for scientific experimentation. Filmmaker Toni Myers had startling access to both the inside and outside of the various ships involved in carting and constructing the numerous components that constitute the impressive structure--or at least her cameras did. She didn't get to go into space, but instead helped train the astronauts as cameramen, cinematographers, and sound and lighting engineers. The results are astounding: The daily routine and critical steps--both of which will have you wishing you'd never given up your childhood dream to become an astronaut--that made up the charmed lives of the numerous teams as they orbited 220 miles above the planet, assembling the ISS piece by multi-million-dollar piece, are captured in intimate detail, as are the breathtaking images of space, still riveting and awe-inspiring to anyone with a heartbeat and invoking jealousy as well as wonder in us poor Earth-bound mortals.

And as if watching zero-gravity naps and space walks weren't enough, the 3D images only enhance the film's otherworldly quality, giving it a strange combo of you-are-there closeness with the disorienting unreality of the seemingly broken-down fourth wall of the movie screen. One montage of the astronauts at work and play to Bing Crosby's version of "White Christmas" seems straight out of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," making that film all the more incredible for its prescience. And Tom Cruise's narration ads a final surreal touch. But don't worry--at no time does he make a plug for the outer-space-influenced teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. He thankfully has left that to John Travolta. Directed and produced by Toni Myers. Narrated by Tom Cruise. An IMAX release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 47 min

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