Capsule/Summary ***½IMAX Hubble is an interesting and entertaining look at the Hubble space telescope covering both its history, examples of images it has collected across the known universe, and the most recent, and last, space shuttle mission to upgrade and maintain it. It loses a good deal of its theatrical grandeur due to the limitations of its SD DVD audio and video presentation, and I would only recommend it for home viewers interested in space travel and astronomy if they are unable to view it in either the Blu-ray or Blu-ray 3D releases that were made available concurrently with this standard definition DVD release.
Directed By: Toni Myers
Narrated by: Leonardo DiCaprio
| Studio: Warner |
Film Length: 44 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: March 29, 2011
The Film ****IMAX: Hubble (also released theatricall as IMAX: Hubble 3D) documents STS-125: the last shuttle mission to upgrade and maintain the Hubble Space Telescope. The first half of the film focuses on the history of the Hubble telescope including previous missions to place it in orbit and maintain it. The viewer is also treated to eye-popping motion renderings of images captured from the telescope spanning the length of the known universe. The second half of the film follows the astronauts of STS-125 from their training through to the actual mission documented by an IMAX camera that was actually carried on board the Space Shuttle.
If you have ever found yourself watching the NASA channel on television for more than 15 minutes or have even a passing interest in astronomy, then this is quite likely the ideal film for you. The IMAX images of the astronauts doing their work in space are impressive, and the motion renderings of the Hubble images are both cleverly realized and fascinatingly hypnotic to watch. The advocacy aspect of the film touting the importance of the Hubble program is handled with a light touch such that it never feels like a space program sales pitch. Leonardo DiCaprio's narration works best during the motion renderings of the Hubble images, giving viewers an indication of what the spectacular images they are viewing represent as well as the vastness of space.
The footage captured by the SRS-125 astronauts is an entertaining combination of the awe-inspiring and the prosaic as the views from space invite viewers into a perspective on our place on the Earth and in the universe that only a handful of humans have ever experienced directly while occasionally coming across as a very expensive home movie as we see astronauts slightly awkward reactions to being filmed going about their daily routines.
The Video ***½The film has been trimmed somewhat from it's original IMAX dimensions to fill the entire 16:9 enhanced frame. The highly symmetrical wide angle photography does not suffer from any obvious framing issues due to the "tilt and scan" cropping, and the process does increase the detail in the areas of the frame that remain uncropped. Detail being one of the raisons d'etre of any IMAX production, this is an understandable compromise, but to the extent even a 3D high definition video rendering of an IMAX 3D production is only a shadow of its theatrical presentation, this SD DVD rendering with its occasional MPEG artifacts and jagged diagonal lines is like a copy of a copy. The MPEG noise was especially disappointing given the brief running time of the feature. If you have absolutely no intention of upgrading to Blu-ray or 3D Blu-ray, then this is a reasonable approximation of the film, but otherwise, I would recommend that home viewers pursue one of the available high-definition options.
The Audio ****Audio comes courtesy of a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 384 kbps. As with most IMAX feature soundtracks, the mix exercise all of the 5.1 channels vigorously, although the relatively low-bitrate audio does suffer from minor compression artifacts which will be noticeable to critical listeners. Alternate language dubs are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish.
The Extras **½When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following set of trailers/promos presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Dgital 2.0 sound:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray/DVD Promo (2:19)
- Scooby Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster DTV Trailer (1:53)
- Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown DVD Trailer(1:27)
- Yogi Bear Blu-ray/DVD Promo (1:26)
- IMAX: Born to Be Wild 3D Trailer (2:27)
Inside IMAX's Hubble 3D (8:16) is a brief featurette that straddles the line between promoting the film and documenting its production that thankfully errs on the side of the latter. Viewers are treated to discussions on topics including how the motion renderings of the Hubble images were created, the logistics of filming the documentary inclusive of shooting in space, some technical challenges encountered during production, and even a brief generally complimentary section on the recording of Leonardo DiCaprio's narration. On camera interview comments are offered by STS-125 Astronaut Scott Altman, Director/Producer Toni Myers,