Hubble 3D

The newly resurgent 3D format gets an out-of-this-world showcase in "Hubble 3D."

Narrator: Leonardo DiCaprio.

The newly resurgent 3D format gets an out-of-this-world showcase in “Hubble 3D.” Structured around a tricky NASA service-and-repair mission, the latest Imax venture from producer-director Toni Myers (“Space Station 3D”) lingers to transfixing effect on images captured by the famous telescope, inspiring the viewer’s awe in the possibilities of giant-screen cinema as well as the mysteries of space. Opening Friday in Imax venues worldwide, this educational eye-popper should prove an excellent draw for science lovers of all ages.

Shortly after the Hubble Space Telescope was launched in April 1990, scientists discovered a tiny yet damaging flaw in its primary mirror, which was rectified by a crew of astronauts in 1993. Since then, the telescope — roughly the size of a school bus, and the most sophisticated of its kind ever put into orbit — has undergone regular service missions, enabling ever sharper, clearer and wider-ranging glimpses of the universe.

Pic documents the most recent of these excursions, the STS-125 Mission — which, though initially canceled in the wake of the 2003 Columbia shuttle crash, went ahead successfully in May 2009. A 700-lb. Imax 3D camera was installed in the shuttle’s cargo bay, while Myers and d.p. James Neihouse trained the astronauts to use it, also positioning HD cameras throughout the spacecraft.

Apart from shots of the astronauts going about their routines inside the shuttle and marveling at the properties of zero gravity — which turns out to be ideally suited to 3D, as floating objects provide a natural depth of field — most of the footage is devoted to the spacewalks undertaken by those repairing the telescope. Narrator Leonardo DiCaprio (who also did the voiceover honors for global-warming docu “The 11th Hour”) works hard to impart a sense of the mission’s danger, enumerating the various risks to the astronauts’ safety as well as the many points at which the repair procedure hits a snag.

Fascinating as much of this footage is, the docu’s strongest images are to be found elsewhere. As though keenly aware that the sight of a shuttle launch never loses its thrill, Myers and Neihouse film the blast-off twice — first from a distance, so you can appreciate the big-picture spectacle of a column of flame against a blue sky, and then from up close, so you can feel the roar of the rockets, an effect that should make any theater quake if its sound system is working properly.

Most mesmerizing of all are the photographs taken by Hubble itself, expertly enhanced through computer-visualization techniques applied by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Consequently, “Hubble 3D” comes as close as any film to reproducing the curious, cosmic sensation of floating through outer space; with the bonus of the telescope’s infrared camera and ultrasharp focus, pic affords tremendous views of everything from the young stars emerging from the Orion Nebula to a black hole in the more distant Virgo Cluster.

It’s an experience so pure and vivid, you may actually wish for less of DiCaprio’s voiceover — which, though useful in explaining what you’re looking at, becomes a bit of a distraction. In space, no one can hear you narrate.

Hubble 3D

Production: A Warner Bros. release presented with Imax Corp. in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Produced by Toni Myers. Executive producer, Graeme Ferguson. Directed, edited by Toni Myers. Written by Myers, Frank Summers, Graeme Ferguson.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Imax 3D, HD-to-Imax 3D), James Neihouse; music, Micky Erbe, Maribeth Solomon; sound, Greg Smith; supervising sound editor, Peter Thillaye; re-recording mixers, Cory Mandel, Paul Shubat, Ed Douglas; visual effects supervisor, Bret Culp; associate producer, Judy Carroll. Reviewed at California Science Center Imax Theater, Los Angeles, March 11, 2010. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Special Events.) MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 43 MIN.

With: Narrator: Leonardo DiCaprio.

More Film

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Us Scriptwriter and Film-maker Larry Cohen

    Larry Cohen, Cult Horror Writer-Director of 'It's Alive,' Dies at 77

    Larry Cohen, best known for his work as a B-movie producer and director in the ’70s and his later work in screenwriting, has died. He was 77. Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post to Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died in Los Angeles [...]

  • Captain Marvel

    Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Shatters $900 Million Milestone

    Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” continues to do heroic business. In its latest box office milestone, the female-fronted superhero tentpole zoomed past $900 million in ticket sales worldwide. “Captain Marvel” brought in a mighty $87 million globally this weekend, including $52 million from international territories. It has now generated $589 million overseas for a global haul [...]

  • Us - Lupita Nyong’o - cr:

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Stuns With $70 Million Opening Weekend

    Talk about scary good. Universal’s “Us,” the second directorial effort from Jordan Peele, pulled off a stunning debut, generating $70 million from 3,741 North American locations. That haul is enough to land it the second-best opening weekend of the year behind Disney’s “Captain Marvel” ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by a [...]

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content