Late last year, Mill Creek Entertainment released the absolutely gorgeous A Beautiful Planet on 4K Ultra HD. Today, they are giving the very similar but much older IMAX Space Station the 4K treatment. I have always loved space and documentaries and A Beautiful Planet was one of my favorite home video releases I watched last year due to how breathtakingly beautiful it was to watch on the format. After watching IMAX Space Station, it is every bit as great of a documentary and looks nearly as good as A Beautiful Planet despite being 14 years older. When the biggest problem with a documentary is that you wished it was longer, that’s the sign you just watched a great film. That’s certainly the case with IMAX Space Station.
Similar to A Beautiful Planet, IMAX Space Station is a documentary set on the International Space Station and shot by astronauts. However, since this documentary was shot around the time the Space Station was launched, it actually starts off with some brief but awesome clips of the construction and launch of parts of the ISS. The documentary then mostly focuses on the first two crews, who had the task of constructing and piecing together some of the first expansions to the Space Station. Mostly though it is about life on the Space Station, just like A Beautiful Planet but shot 14 years earlier. The film is narrated by Tom Cruise, who doesn’t have a huge role but does a solid job with his narration. He was obviously cast for star power reasons but his voice is definitely fitting for narration. I’ve already compared this film to A Beautiful Planet on several occasions and there’s a good reason why it feels so familiar, Toni Myers was the director and producer of both films.
Pretty much my only negative for IMAX Space Station is the documentary’s length. Due to it being an IMAX film (which are almost always under a 60 minute run time), the documentary is just 47 short minutes in length. Considering how interesting the subject matter is, I wish it was much longer so it could dive deeper into each portion of material. As someone who would give up just about anything to visit space, I could watch a 24-hour documentary on the ISS and still never get bored of it. Space and the International Space Station are both so fascinating and I will watch just about any title on those subjects I come across. Unfortunately Toni Myers passed away earlier this year but hopefully someone will take up the mantle and continue making these amazing space documentaries.
While this documentary could have easily been twice as long as it was, just like A Beautiful Planet there’s so much cool and funny footage here despite its short run time. There’s more amazing shots in these 47 minutes than most major feature length films. From watching the astronauts finish construction on parts of the station and getting a really close look at two space shuttle launches to the always awesome zero gravity goofs (I will always find them amusing), IMAX Space Station is a very fun and informative watch. If you have any interest in space or the International Space Station at all, you’ll love this documentary. It is pretty similar to A Beautiful Planet but there are enough differences that I think space documentary fans should watch both. Those not really interested in space or science aren’t going to enjoy it nearly as much (obviously) but as long as you like documentaries, I think its worth watching anyway. It might be a bit slow for non-space fans but the amazing shots should impress all viewers.
Just like A Beautiful Planet, IMAX Space Station is a gorgeous watch on 4K Ultra HD. It’s a decade and a half older but still looks almost as pristine and amazing visually. IMAX Space Station also comes with a Blu-ray for those who haven’t yet upgraded to 4K (I tested the Blu-ray as well and it looks nearly as amazing). This documentary had been released on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D before but both are now pretty pricey for new copies. This is a much better priced release and gets you an upgrade to 4K as well. It would have been nice to get a Blu-ray 3D copy in the package as well (especially since it supposedly looks amazing in 3D), but most people will just watch this in 4K anyway.
In terms of bonus features, no new offerings are included but it does have all of the extras from the prior DVD release of the film. Unfortunately all of the extras are in standard definition but it likely wasn’t worth the effort to clean them up. The bonus features on this release include:
- Director’s Commentary
- Adventures in Space (22:12)-This is mostly a “making of” featurette which includes interviews with director Toni Myers and former astronauts (some of which were in the documentary itself). One of the best things about this is you get to see more International Space Station footage that was cut from the actual documentary. This is a pretty lengthy featurette with some interesting tidbits (like the fact that the very first shot filmed for this movie destroyed a $45,000 camera).
- Expedition 7 (16:14)-A tour of the Space Station with astronaut Ed Lu. It’s a pretty interesting featurette for space fans like me but it is unfortunately quite blurry and hard to distinguish what you’re looking at at times.
- STS-108 (18:40)-While this is listed as an “astronaut-guided tour of the ISS,” it’s more of an audio diary with the astronauts of the STS-108 expedition (a supply mission commanded by Dominic Gorie). It goes pretty in-depth into their mission and the things they saw and did on the ISS during their week aboard. Another pretty interesting featurette for space buffs.
Just like A Beautiful Planet, IMAX Space Station makes for a gorgeous and amazing watch, especially for those of you like me that wish they could visit space. A Beautiful Planet may be more up to date and look a tiny bit better (though IMAX Space Station still looks amazing on 4K), but this one has the advantage of showing some of how the ISS came together and the early days of its first inhabitants. Both documentaries have their advantages and they are equals in my opinion (and should both be watched). Highly recommended.
IMAX Space Station was released on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray on July 9, 2019.
Buy IMAX Space Station on Amazon: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of IMAX Space Station used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.