Most films shown in IMAX deserve to be seen on as big a screen as possible. Even Hollywood directors are finding that IMAX is an even better — and definitely bigger — option than 3D. From Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, or Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the scope and magnitude of the screen’s size helps suck the viewer into their world better than just seeing things in the third dimension. However, when a film is made directly for IMAX and filmed in 3D, it can be an amazing visual experience. And Space Junk 3D, the new IMAX Blu-ray 3D being released on September 17, is no exception — even when viewed at home.
Director Melissa R. Butts takes viewers on an amazing ride through the galaxies to show us the debris space exploration and technology has left behind. From a trip to Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff, Arizona, to the outer reaches of the solar system, Don Kessler (“Father of Space Junk”), and narrator Tom Wilkinson, enlightens viewers to the vastly growing ring of debris orbiting Earth. While it may not seem like a huge deal, this debris is on course to collide with each other at some point. While not all of what’s adrift in space is literal garbage — it ranges from nuts and bolts to space satellites — what goes up doesn’t always come back down. Butts makes sure viewers will think about possible solutions to cleaning up our mess up there, while explaining just how infantile our planet really is.
The 3D 1080p picture is presented on a 25GB disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image looks as amazing as you’d expect from a Blu-ray presentation of an IMAX feature, especially being on a smaller disc size that also includes the 2D version. The lack of special features, and the utilization of the IMAX Solido 3D Camera, makes sure that Butts fills every frame with immense depth. The CGI-rendered graphics, and live-action sequences, are as mesmerizing as you’d expect from the best 3D presentations. Along with Storm Surfers 3D, Space Junk is one of the best live-action 3D presentations on the market. From what I’ve read about the rest of the IMAX 3D Blu-rays, it appears they show no signs of slowing down with each presentation a complete knockout. I did spot one occasion of aliasing on an orbiting satellite, but aside from that, there was no crosstalk, ghosting, banding, crush, noise, nada.
The 5.1 DTS-MA track also is full of fun directional sounds with some surprisingly deep LFE when necessary. Considering most of the film is packed with Wilkinson’s voiceover, everything is delivered crystal clear with surrounds kicking in here and there to envelop the viewer. IMAX theaters are getting used more and more for Hollywood entertainment, but they’ve always been used for educational films first. Space Junk 3D runs a very quick 37 minutes and features the bare minimum of extras. Included are a “Making Of” featuring clips of Wilkinson and Butts; a very short 2-minute “Interview with Tom Wilkinson”; a Behind the Scenes photo gallery; and a long list of additional IMAX 3D trailers including Dinosaurs, The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti, Dinosaurs Alive!, Wild Ocean, and Rescue, to name a few.
Space Junk 3D is a film to give creationists a heart attack, but it’s considerably naïve to assume that Earth is as young as they believe. The solar system is ever expanding and that’s a scientific fact that can’t be denied. The 3D presentation is a definite go-to disc for anyone looking to show off their 3D TV with enough dimensionality to make you almost want to reach into your set and play with the stars on the screen. The audio does its job and the special features are limited enough to make sure the small disc size has ample room to properly display the 3D effects. Space Junk 3D is a welcome addition to the Blu-ray 3D family that will make anyone stop and think about just how miniscule we really are here on Earth, and it comes highly recommended.