Where I live, we only have one IMAX theater. I say that like there should be an IMAX theater on every corner. But I guess I feel the need to qualify that statement because sometimes it felt like Iowa was the last place on Earth to even get an IMAX. So when we got one, it was a pretty big deal.
Our IMAX is affiliated with our local science center. So I don’t normally keep informed about what movies are playing there unless there is a theatrical release in house. You might remember that we took Henry to his first movie at our IMAX theater when we took him to see The Polar Express.
The problem with that is that it never seems like they get a properly formatted IMAX reel. I always get the sensation that they’re taking a standard movie reel and blowing it up on that concave dome. The image is always stretched out and it’s not a very enjoyable experience.
I’ve seen a few movies this way. Superman Returns, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Polar Express. Only Transformers had a legitimately scoped scene in IMAX (when Devastator is attacking the pyramids) and it was cool. But, otherwise, I find the IMAX feature film experience to be exhausting. Watching Brandon Routh zoom from one side of the screen to the other in Superman Returns gave me a crimp in my neck. Right now, they have Avatar as their featured release. Avatar gave me eye-strain on a NORMAL sized screen. I’d hate to imagine what kind of experience I would have watching it on an IMAX screen.
Anyway, long story short, I don’t normally keep up to date on proper IMAX films unless I happen to go to the science center our IMAX theater is affiliated with. After looking at the exhibits, I might say to myself “Oh, what’s playing on the IMAX?” and then check it out. I don’t usually make a point of seeing an IMAX film just for the sake of it.
But that changed this weekend when Cami and I went to see Hubble IMAX.
I was peripherally aware of Hubble IMAX after reading a few advance notices over at Hollywood Elsewhere, but I didn’t give much thought to seeing it until Cami mentioned it to me early last week. I’m not sure how she caught wind of it, but I took it as a sign that we should probably go. Obscure IMAX movie that neither one of us should have any knowledge of? A sign from the Movie Gods.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that both of us are huge nerds who enjoy things like science, history and space. Hence, the punchline to today’s comic.
But I digress…
Let me say this: If your town has an IMAX theater and they’re showing Hubble IMAX, you NEED to see it. In fact, I command you to see this movie. It is AMAZING – and I can’t stress that enough. I caught myself with my mouth wide open several times. It’s simply astonishing.
From a narrative standpoint, there’s not much to tell. The film tells the story of the Hubbel telescope and recounts a few of the repair missions before actually putting you over the shoulder of the most recent and most important repair that happened in April 2009.
To say the repair was high-stakes is putting it lightly. Basically, it was a last ditch effort to repair the ailing piece of equipment or face scrapping a multi-BILLION dollar project entirely.
Once the repairs sequence is complete, the movie treats you to a series of mind-bending and immersive images captured by Hubble to try and explain the sheer enormity of the universe. When the film uses Hubble’s images to dive into the center of a nebula 900 billion miles wide, it basically crumples up your brain and tosses it into a waste basket.
I mean, I always knew that Earth is a planet in our solar system which is made up of several other solar systems that in turn make up the Milky Way.
But when Hubble expands it’s view to include our nearest neighboring galaxy – Andromeda – before gazing further to view the cluster of roughly 36 other galaxies that make up the celestial “village” we inhabit that you start to get an idea of the impact Hubble has on our understanding of the universe.
Gazing further to reveal a “metropolis” of over 2,000 galaxies, the point is hammered home.
By the end of the movie, Hubble goes so far as to literally show you THE END OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE as it zooms in on malformed galaxies so far away, the light they are emitting left their tiny corner of space over 10 billion years ago.
Now, considering that scientists think there are 200 to 400 BILLION stars in the Milky Way ALONE… stop and think about our neighboring galaxy. Then the galaxies in our “village.” Then the 2,000 galaxies in the nearest “metropolis” and finally the dying galaxies on the edge of the universe.
Boy, if you didn’t feel small after watching Hubble IMAX, then your ego is ALL out of whack.
Watching this movie and the irrefutable science really puts a lot of things in perspective. I won’t enter into any kind of religious debate… but when you consider the prospect of extra-terrestrial life… Man, how can there NOT be something else going on out there? Surly we can’t be the only life in the universe. And if we are – WOW, what a waste!
I mean, that is unless they have webcomics somewhere in Omega Centauri? Who knows?
I wish I could get most specific about Hubble IMAX but I’m still kind of processing it and it has left me at a loss for words.
Jeffery Wells from Hollywood Elsewhere made an interesting point when he was talking about the profound disconnect from three-time box office champ Alice in Wonderland.
Basically, he was talking about the 3D fantasy environment Alice promotes and how it never really sinks in because we’re aware of the conceit of 3D and CGI as artistic tools. This, in comparison to what Hubble IMAX gives us – which, in Wells words, “provides a feeling of awe that is 100% real.”
I can’t deny feeling nervous for the astronauts who put their lives at risk to fix this piece of equipment. I felt profound sadness that their contribution to the understanding of our role in the universe isn’t acknowledged more than it is.
I think if you ask people about space exploration, the general consensus is that not much has been accomplished since we put a man on the moon in 1969. But putting a man on the moon feels like a publicity stunt in comparison to the raw value and perspective Hubble has given us.
Watching Hubble IMAX, you get the sense that this knowledge will not be fully appreciated or even actualized until several generations later and that’s a shame. Because the tens of thousands of people that have worked on Hubble are true heroes. Hubble IMAX gave me this new perspective and has me thinking twice about the validity of our space program.
If you haven’t seen the movie, see it. If you HAVE seen the movie or are curious about it, please leave your comments below..
Just wanted to let you guys know that I added a new feature to the site that allows you to reply directly to a specific comment in the comments thread. Before, new comments would show up at the bottom of the page. But now if you want to address someone directly, your comment will appear immediately below theirs! Pretty cool, huh?
The plugin also affords you the opportunity to be notified when someone responds to one of YOUR comments. How cool is that?
Incidentally, this is the plugin I’m using. I might need a little help customizing it for the site. For example, the “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail” check box appears in the lower left corner of the comment input field. I’d like to get it a little closer to the “Submit Comment” button.
If any of you have WordPress or plugin experience, let me know. I could use a little help.
Enjoy the new feature!