Ossus Library Index Non-Fiction Movie Index


Directed by Tony Myers (2002, IMAX Corporation)
Narrated by Tom Cruise

A journey to the International Space Station, from the launch of its first component, its construction, and the first crews to live there.

View Count: Twice



4 stars

March 2nd, 2003 on the OmniMAX dome


I enjoyed this movie a little more the second time around, being ready for the annoying narration, and able to tune Cruise out.

I think the best narration could have come from the astronauts themselves. The narration that they did give, experiences mostly, were great, as (was it Bonnie Dunbar floating through the hatch?) "sometimes we bring them a woman..." was hilarious.

The views from space, and the interiors of the space station itself were terrific. Many of the same thoughts as I expressed below occupied my mind while watching this film for the second time. But this time, I was also aware of how beautiful the Space Shuttle is, and how much I still feel for the tragedy of Columbia's disintegration a month ago. It was amazing to see the shuttle flying and launching, especially from within.

One thing that kept annoying me was the way the shuttles were constantly different in every shot. The narrator would be speaking about Endeavor, but Atlantis would be in the picture, probably because it was a better "shot". It shouldn't be that difficult to keep them straight.

The film could have been better, but did a very good job, nevertheless.



3+ stars+

December 1st, 2002 on the OmniMAX dome


Visually splendid, but without enough substance, and Tom Cruise was just annoying.

Images from space- real images -are always breathtaking, and this movie is no exception. Why do the producers start, then, with a computer simulation? It is an obvious simulation, and sets the tone for the movie right away.

The film shows the assembly of the International Space Station in chronological order, so that we see the first launch of the first components, then more and more until the station is habitable. I guess there are only so many ways to capture a launch. The Russian launches were really cool, since I have never seen one of those on IMAX before. The Space Shuttle launches were nowhere near as neat and inspiring as in, say, The Dream is Alive. Only one shot stood out -as filmed from the orbiter window at launch. That is probably as close as most people will get to being inside the shuttle during those first eight minutes, and it was amazing!

The astronauts this time were not as interesting as they could be. It was nice that the film-makers sought to capture a very international flavor, including Canadian, Italian, and Japanese astronauts along with the American and Russians who pretty much run the station. The astronauts had some neat moments, but most of it we have seen before, with the floating and eating, and so on. They didn't make it very interesting, even when operating the robot arm. Tossing the large water containers was one of the best parts.

It was neat to see the Canadarm logo so large on the screen, so dominant on the shots outside the station. That arm really dwarfs the smaller shuttle arm! The station is the main attraction and the title character in this film, so it is fitting that the only real awe we feel here is with regards to its assembly. We get to share the feeling of amazement when the astronauts first enter; with everything still stowed, and few equipment racks even present, the station looks huge! That first crew must have had a massive playground for weightlessness! Also amazing are the views of new equipment arriving. Most of it just barely fits through the doorways, obviously designed for a perfect fit.

I would have rather done with no narration, instead of the stupid statements and tones that Tom Cruise provided. His dimwitted commentary really detracted from the film. His statements were all completely flat, his jokes falling flatter, and what is supposed to be awe comes off bored. The way he recites facts like the weight of the station, or the biographies of the crew make me think he was sleeping at the time. Yuck -this is the perfect way to ruin a movie.

Still, the images from space were impressive, as always. The interior of the station was fascinating, and it's always fun to see a launch, especially of the Russian rocket.

I wonder if expectation has too much to do with my impression of the film. I might see it again, now that I have been disillusioned about this being the best space movie ever, as some have proclaimed. A little less expectation might improve the film. We shall see.


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