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Warner Home Video presents
Space Station (IMAX) (2002)

"If you come along, we'll go behind the scenes and discover how these extraordinary people do it."
- Tom Cruise (narrator)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: July 20, 2005

Stars: Tom Cruise, Brian Duffy, Susan Helms, Marsha Ivins, Yury Usachev, Steven Lindsey, Koichi Wakata
Other Stars: Sergei Krikalev, Yuri Lonchakov, James Kelly, James Newman, Janet Kavandi
Director: Toni Myers

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 0h:47m:07s
Release Date: July 19, 2005
UPC: 794051807526
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B+A A-

DVD Review

The International Space Station (ISS) is a stunning creation that represents a remarkable collaboration between 16 countries from around the world. A permanent space residence still feels more like science fiction, but this structure actually orbits the earth today. While not as large or awe-inspiring as the fantastic creations of authors and filmmakers, this collection of modules is four times larger than the Russian Mir station. The logistics of assembling the ISS and living in zero gravity are extremely difficult, but the astronauts continue to gain knowledge that assists in making once-fictional ideas a reality.

Space Station takes you inside the International Space Station and reveals the intricate details concerning the astronauts’ daily life there. Even the simplest tasks on Earth can become much different while living in zero gravity. Sleeping is especially unique, as the astronauts must zip themselves into a stand-up sleeping bag to keep from floating around the room. Showering also requires the men and women to take pellets of water and push them onto the skin. Everyday privacy is obviously incredibly limited aboard the station. Another intriguing element is the additional need for exercise to keep the muscles from deteriorating within the zero-gravity environment. Each individual must work out for two hours a day just to maintain their current state of fitness. The treadmill and exercise bike even require odd straps to keep the participants from simply floating away.

Narrated by Tom Cruise, this entertaining picture takes a light-hearted approach to the subject and utilizes fun, recognizable music cues from such notable bands as the Talking Heads. Cruise’s genial enthusiasm contributes to the overall tone, as he avoids the dry, professional demeanor of some other star’s IMAX readings. Along with up-close looks at the astronauts, this film depicts preparations for the journey that begin on our planet. Astronauts use virtual reality simulators and underwater activities to ensure their readiness for the immense tasks ahead. The camera also provides a majestic view of the space station from inside the shuttle’s cargo bay. Even presented on the small screen, the format’s capabilities stand apart from the typical space presentation on television.

Filmed prior to the Columbia shuttle disaster, the movie projects an optimism that NASA currently struggles to regain. The recent delay of the shuttle launch again has brought negative attention to NASA and its inability to get things moving. It becomes nearly impossible to view this story without thinking about the astronauts who died in the accident aboard the Columbia. This film showcases the best aspects of a space program that will hopefully recover and continue to thrive in the future. Also, the strong bond developed between the international crew also supports the fact that NASA is not alone in exploring space.

Originally presented in 3D, Space Station’s impact does lessen slightly when viewed at home in the 2D format. However, I challenge anyone to shut out the lights and not become impressed with the images presented. Viewers with little interest in the topic may also have issues with the lighter tone, as the discussion generally avoids the larger issues of the value of space to people on Earth. Space devotees should fall in love with this picture, however, as it provides a fresh, impressive tour of a remarkable achievement. The International Space Station’s success is a requirement for any plans to visit Mars or other planets in the future.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: While IMAX films often utilize attractive transfers for DVD releases, they obviously pale in comparison to their original large-screen presentations. Space Station's full-frame transfer gives us an impressive look at living in outer space. However, the picture could be sharper and does offer a grainy image during a few scenes. The overall result is positive, but it falls a bit short of the best IMAX releases.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Any minor drawbacks with the image transfer are totally erased by the astounding 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio that stands among the premier tracks. During the launch sequences, the debris appears to fly right across the room and into the back wall. The rear speakers are utilized almost constantly during the presentation, which helps to create the intimate atmosphere of being aboard the space station. The sharp, complex sound field leads to an immersive, powerful experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring IMAX general preview
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Toni Myers and Astronaut Marsha Ivins
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Expedition 7: An audio visual tour of the ISS
  2. Mission STS-108: An audio visual tour of the ISS
  3. Photo gallery
Extras Review: Space Station (IMAX) offers a nice collection of extra features that give us an intimate perspective of the astronauts' experiences. The best piece is Adventures in Space—a 22-minute documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes perspective of the film's creation. The feature begins by having the astronauts discuss the various aspects of living in space, including taking a shower, eating, and exercising. Their enthusiasm helps to enhance the information and make it even more compelling. The next segment involves the actual filming out in space, which was extremely difficult within the small confines of the International Space Station. Astronaut Marsha Ivins also discusses her involvement in helping the Foley artist to match the soundtrack to the reality. The film concludes with brief conversations from Director Toni Myers, Tom Cruise, and others on their opinions about the future of space travel and hopes for actually traveling up there. Ivins and Myers also contribute a feature-length commentary to this disc, which provides even more intricate details. The two have a personal relationship that makes the riveting material even more enjoyable.

This disc includes two very different but equally effective audio visual tours of the International Space Station. Narrated by Dr. Ed Lu, Expedition 7 lasts 16 minutes and provides a first-person observation of every nook and cranny inside the amazing structure. They make excellent use of space and have placed an incredible amount of items within the small area. Lu also points out the unique elements of this station, including their ability to ride the stationary bike while watching the Earth pass below them. Mission STS-108 takes us through an entire space mission from the moments prior to launch through the fast-paced landing. The five speakers who offer commentary during this 18-minute feature are Commander Dom Gorie, Mission Specialist Linda Goodwin, Pilot Mark Kelly, Mission Specialist ISS Flight Engineer Daniel Mitani, and Former Astronaut Captain Frank L. Gilbertson, Jr.

The remaining supplements include an impressive photo gallery and the typical IMAX trailer. The gallery includes 16 color pictures from both within and outside the station and also shows Tom Cruise recording his narration. The IMAX preview showcases the stunning capabilities of the technology and offers highlights from some of the most prominent large-screen films.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

The future of space exploration is a complex issue that divides many individuals who might share political beliefs on most subjects. There's no questioning the fact that going into space is very expensive. The difficulty lies in one's belief on the true value of exploring the unknown reaches of space. My logical side understands that spending money on this area is difficult in trying economic times, but my idealistic side believes that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Space Station provides a glimpse of a magical world and will hopefully inspire a few bright young viewers to aim for the stars.

 


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