'Hubble' at an IMAX theater worth the trouble

March 16, 2010 

Normally I don’t review IMAX movies. The closest you can get is Spokane, Seattle or Portland.

Since films at those venues aren’t of much impact to Tri-Cities film fans, I skip them.

I didn’t skip Hubble.

Space fascinates me as it does for many of you. When it’s clear, we can view the swath of stars spread out in the night sky. It’s our galaxy, the Milky Way, and some of the dots within are actually other galaxies. In that view we get just a sliver of an indication of the size of the universe. If you’re high enough and the night is dark enough, it is mind-boggling.

That view pales in comparison to what can be seen outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Those views and a trip through time and space are what make the 40-minute IMAX flick so powerful.

Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, Hubble explores the telescope’s history and how space shuttle flights have managed to keep it working since the original launch in April of 1990. You’re shown clips of the telescope being released into space and the flight where the optically impaired Hubble was given what amounts to a pair of cosmic glasses.

Most of the movie centers on the space shuttle flight of what will be the telescope’s final repairs. They were done in May 2009.

While all that is fascinating, the images shown at the beginning of the film and at the film’s end will truly blow your mind. We know space is vast, but in an IMAX theater, the size is overwhelming. Hubble’s photographs peer billions of years into the past and show you light that was generated and sent our way before this planet was even formed.

The pictures defy description. Words can’t paint the glory of the cosmos as seen through lenses and filters that let you see light that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Worlds collide. Galaxies collide. Clusters of gas hide young stars. Older galaxies eat them.

Hubble is a wonderful machine, and this is a phenomenal movie.

I caught it in 2-D because Portland’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) does not have the gear to show the 3-D version. Spokane’s IMAX is showing it in 2-D, too. If you can’t get to Seattle’s Pacific Science Center where it is in 3-D, don’t worry. Even in two-dimensions the film stuns the senses.

That said, I can’t wait to travel to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle and don the glasses.

Hubble opens in Seattle in 3-D -- and in Spokane and Portland in 2-D -- on Friday, March 19.

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