Movie Review

Hubble 3D

‘Hubble’ would be impressive even without 3-D

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the space shuttle after it was released from its final repair. The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the space shuttle after it was released from its final repair. (NASA via Warner Bros.)
By Mark Feeney
Globe Staff / March 19, 2010

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Even though it’s less than 45 minutes long, “Hubble 3D’’ manages to be three separate movies. They’re related, but one of them is especially satisfying.

There’s a primer, sadly brief, on the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the true technological marvels of this technologically marvelous age. Film number two consists of footage of the May 2009 space shuttle mission that gave the telescope a new lease on its scientific life. Finally, “Hubble 3D’’ uses the astounding images from the telescope to, well, astound us.

Any one of these elements could have made a compelling film, and none of the elements really benefits all that much more from all the IMAX and 3-D oomph (the soupy music, alternately peddling uplift and bombast, doesn’t help either).

There are terrific things here. Who knew that shuttle astronauts train in a four-story, 6-million-gallon swimming pool at the Johnson Space Center? (It’s the best way to imitate prolonged weightlessness.) Or that much of the hardware the astronauts used in replacing parts and updating the Hubble looked like something you could get at a Home Depot? (That said, turning screws and replacing bolts is a whole lot harder 320 miles above the earth than it is in your basement.)

Leonardo DiCaprio, as narrator, sounds very nearly reverent, and not without reason. The aplomb of the astronauts as they go about their business, the staggering celestial reaches revealed by the telescope: These are barely comprehensible. But is it being a spoilsport to suggest that the Hubble’s original 2-D images are a lot more stupendous than all the IMAX 3-D hurly-burly?

HUBBLE 3D Written and directed by: Toni Myers

Narrated by: Leonardo DiCaprio

At: New England Aquarium Simons IMAX Theatre

Running time: 43 minutes

Rated: G

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