STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 47 Minutes
Audio commentary by director Toni Myers and astronaut Marsha Ivens
“Adventures in Space” featurette
Audio-visual tours of the Expedition 7 and STS-180 space stations
Photo gallery
Theatrical trailer

The first crew arrived on the International Space Station in the year 2000, and since then at least two people have occupied it at all times. The purpose of the space station is to consolidate the many separate space station programs countries had and to do many zero gravity experiments. The current state of the station seems to be in a holding pattern, with some of the proposed additions to the station being too heavy for modern shuttles to take into space.

Some critics argue that the space station is a waste of money and that the billions of dollars spent on it would be better served on Earth. To those people I would point out that the space station has brought us a new film from IMAX. And not just any ordinary film, a 3D film! Can anyone look me in the eye and honestly tell me that a 3D film isn’t worth 100 billion dollars? Just think of how awesome Jaws III would have been with a budget like that!

This picture was taken moments before the mutated grizzly bear from Prophecy smashed the astronaut into a tree.

The Flick

It’s an IMAX film. Are you expecting a breathtaking tale of intrigue and several action pieces with loud explosions and a soundtrack by Coldplay? It’s a bunch of pretty pictures on a giant screen in 3D. Except you’re watching it at home now so it’s not on a big screen. Oh yeah, it’s also not in 3D for the DVD release. So you’re basically just watching small, two dimensional pretty pictures. Sorry about that.

But what pretty pictures they are! You get to see it all, from the preparation of the space shuttle launching on Earth to the assembling of the station pieces. The IMAX camera placed in the cargo bay allows for great shots of the entire space station from afar. Several times I wondered if I was looking at a still frame or if the movie was paused because no action appeared to be happening, but then I would notice the clouds of the Earth moving in the background. The feature is filled with many striking visuals like this one that you can use as a background at your work PC and become the envy of your co-workers with.

Space Station was filmed and directed by the first two crews to man the International Space Station. The crews were trained in the usage of the massive IMAX 3D cameras before taking off for the station and were instructed on what types of shots to get. Many shots are set up to appear as if they were spontaneous, but they were in fact set up. The crew even managed to get some great shots that they conceptualized on their own. They even rig up a mirror set-up to get shots in areas where the IMAX camera can’t fit.

Above: An IMAX camera breaking. Not pictured: The cameraman hopping onto the space shuttle to escape IMAX lawyers.

The feature is narrated by Tom Cruise, who is apparently not only an expert on psychology but on space stations as well. With all the media frenzy around Cruise these days, just his voice was off putting at the start of the feature. Eventually I got used to it. Cruise conveys a real sense of infatuation and wonder over the concept of the station itself and the unexplored frontiers of space. I don’t know if he really does feel as passionately about space exploration as he sounds in the narration, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.

However, Cruise’s narration is a crude device to link the various shots together and little more. He occasionally describes what the crew is doing for the audience but many of the events are self explanatory. If you’re eager to know the technical details of the experiments and what’s being done in the footage, the commentary track in the extras is a better source.

Space Station isn’t the most exciting footage in the world to watch, but there are a lot of incredible visuals that you’re not going to find anywhere else. Clocking in at only 47 minutes, only the most attention deficient viewers of film will be unable to handle it. Sure, we may not be flying spaceships with warp speed and sending them to Hell-like dimensions yet, but the present state of space exploration is pretty damn cool and worth the time to watch it.

7.0 out of 10

Shortly after this, the omega virus took control of the space arm and destroyed Earth.

The Look

Obviously the home release of Space Station isn’t going to come close to duplicating the detail present on an IMAX screen. The DVD release is digitally mastered from the original 70MM source and looks superb. The fact that the film is no longer in 3D is a real bummer, but considering the 3D projection setup you’d need to buy for your home theater in able to view it in this manner, it’s understandable why the DVD is in 2D.

9.0 out of 10

Be the first man to orbit the Earth and get your own Superman-like memorial!

The Noise

Space Station is presented in Dolby Digital Surround. With the proper audio set-up, a home theater can almost duplicate the IMAX sound experience with this DVD. It’s a great track that’s only hampered by the subject matter. There are no awesome sounds of waves crashing or volcanoes erupting like in other IMAX films, just the empty silence of space and the conversations of the crew for the most part. The only scenes that will really blow your ears off are the launchings of the shuttles and the rockets.

9.0 out of 10

The kids of Seabrook Intermediate are obviously overcome with excitement over the opportunity to talk to the astronauts.

The Goodies

If you’re in the mood to know the technical details behind the space station and space shuttles in general, the special features are right up your alley. The meat of the special features is a commentary track with the director and one of the astronauts. The director doesn’t have much to add since she was on Earth at all times. The bulk of her material is devoted to describing the IMAX filming process. The astronaut has much more to contribute and gives the viewer a deeper explanation of the filming process and the hows and whys of what astronauts are doing in many of the shots.

The disc also includes several featurettes. “Adventures in Space” features interviews with astronauts from the first two crews of the International Space Station. It provides information on the space station’s mission itself as well as the filming process. This feature includes numerous handheld shots of the IMAX filming in action so you can get a sense of how huge the cameras really are. Rounding out the special features are two space station video tours of Expedition 7 and STS-108, narrated by astronauts so you actually know what you’re looking at. A standard image gallery and trailer finish off the special features.

6.0 out of 10

Tom Cruise examines one of the earlier e-meters that took up an entire room and used punch cards.

The Artwork

There aren’t a whole lot of options on cover art for a film devoted to the International Space Station, but IMAX still found a way to get artsy with it. Below the gigantic IMAX logo, an astronaut floats away from the space station with the black void of space behind him. The space station itself is reflected in his visor for a neat visual. Pay no attention to the fact that to get a reflection like that in his helmet, an astronaut would probably need to be unattached to the station and risk floating into the endless abyss. I hope he has one of those jetpack devices.

7.0 out of 10

Overall: 7.5 out of 10