Space has been reliable garganto-vision fodder in museum planetaria for decades, and this latest IMAX spectacle has its share of breathtaking cosmic vistas. But the 20-year-old Hubble Space Telescope—whose repair mission is the subject of this chronicle—turns out to be a bit of a stage hog, and audiences expecting a blissout of swirling galaxies will wonder why so much time is spent on astronauts sweating over screws and bolts.
Of course, just about anything looks fairly impressive blown up to brownstone-size, and the movie offers a melange of material: astrofolk training underwater, an earthshaking rocket launch, living-quarter antics and artful computer visualizations of Hubble's crown-jewel data. (It's a mix of footage from both the early 1990s and last year's sortie, stirred together and haphazardly upgraded to bigger-faster-better 3-D status.) Things perk up once the telescope's findings start sending a thousand points of light hurling at us—though these cotton-candy nebulae and whirligig baby stars are each laden with the multiplying cosmic-slop metaphors of Leonardo DiCaprio's voiceover. Despite the astronauts' bravery and good humor, their work on the Hubble, captured in cluttered shots, is not nearly as exciting as the brave new frontiers conjured up by the term spacewalk. But even if this stroll through the heavens isn't as immersive as, say, the recent Deep Sea IMAX, it's still a trip.—Nicolas Rapold
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