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Journey to Space (3D Blu-ray Review)

6 May, 2016 By: John Latchem

Street 6/7/16
Shout! Factory
$39.93 4K/3D Blu-ray combo, $19.99 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Narrated by Patrick Stewart.

Imax movies about space travel tend to follow a formula of providing inspirational imagery alongside larger-than-life shots designed to take advantage of the large-screen format, and Journey to Space is no different.

Pairing new scenes alongside footage from earlier Imax efforts, the film reflects on the Space Shuttle program in its final days while looking ahead to future space adventures on the International Space Station and Mars. Though “Star Trek” icon Patrick Stewart is the headline narrator, most of the voiceovers come from a handful of astronauts and other NASA personnel, who provide some interesting insight into what it’s like to prepare for these missions and some of the technical challenges involved.

Given the mixture of footage involved, the filmmakers used a few editing techniques to blend everything together, including some fun CGI to illustrate various missions and spacecraft, such as the Orion capsule.

Running 45 minutes, Journey to Space is a fun primer for space enthusiasts on the current state of America’s space program, especially for those viewers who might not have seen it at the handful of museum Imax exhibitions where it has been screening. There are a lot of fascinating tidbits about future space technologies, such as inflatable space habitats, that might surprise viewers used to seeing Hollywood’s depiction of spaceflight. A major one is a spacesuit that docks with a Mars rover in a way to prevent possibly toxic alien dust from entering the habitat, which certainly casts a new light on movies such as The Martian in which the astronauts wear their suits inside all the time (not that they get their suits covered in Mars dust anyway).

In some cases, which is typical for Imax transfers to home video, the footage is displayed in smaller windows within a larger backdrop, instead of the film being recomposited to fill a home theater screen. The Blu-ray includes a short featurette about the conversion of the film to the 4K and 3D formats, which explains that some of the video isn’t blown up to fill the entire screen because of the limits of upconverting the original footage.

The 3D effects aren’t very pronounced through most of the film, though the depth is most effective in some of the native Imax POV scenes.

The combo pack includes one disc with a 4K Ultra HD version of the movie, and another disc with 3D and 2D viewing options.

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