The 38-minute IMAX feature, “Space Junk 3D,” which releases to Blu-ray on Sept. 17, is a beautifully filmed documentary that examines the debris orbiting Earth. It’s a situation in which there may not be a complete conclusion, but the short documentary does open the viewer’s eyes about an issue that is hardly discussed.
While there are many people who wonder about the possibility of life on Mars and on other planets, this issue of floating space debris is a much more pressing one. Director Melissa Butts makes the viewer well aware of the issue, even if there isn’t a whole lot that the viewer can do to solve the problem.
So, what exactly is “space junk?” It’s not just meteors falling from the sky; it’s waste from space shuttles, satellites, solar panels, and other technological products. Some of it is too small to spot, while others are as big as Texas. But it’s also trash from natural causes in space.
Oscar-nominated actor Tom Wilkinson narrates the documentary – outlining some of the most terrifying information about something which very few discuss. There have been several attempts to capture a lot of space junk, and scientists are coming up with new ideas every day. But there’s so much out there that it’s impossible to contain each and every piece. Some of it is lethal, and they can’t be seen by the human eye. And there’s more debris that is created each and every day. Plus, it’s all about when the scientists can get these cleaning machines up into space.
“Space Junk 3D” does use its effects creatively, even though they don’t look that great. The opening title sequence shows a shuttle launching into space. Prior to its liftoff, audio clips from many historical events – including Neil Armstrong’s moon landing – are played. Trash is shown orbiting Earth, and meteors are seen colliding into each other and exploding into separate parts. There is one scene worth mentioning in which we see how signals transmit to various locations at nighttime. It’s a really cool and entrancing moment.
Don Kessler, who has been deemed the “Father of ‘Space Junk,’” navigates the viewer through some of the most incredible landscapes and settings, including Meteor Crater in Arizona – which is considered the “world’s best preserved meteor impact site.” Kessler also shows some areas, like Lowell Observatory, in which astronomers can get a good glimpse at the sky.
Those who didn’t get the chance to see it in IMAX may ponder the question of how it would look on a big screen. The Blu-ray does give viewers the option to watch it in 3D or 2D, so they can get somewhat close to what those who watched it in IMAX saw.
Blu-ray special features:
The special features are all pretty short. There’s an interview with Wilkinson in which he discusses what interested him in being the narrator and learning more about space junk. There’s also a behind-the-scenes featurette, which shows some clips from the Wilkinson interview and has Butts discussing the research process of the documentary.
The last two special features are galleries. One is a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, while the other is a collection of other IMAX 3D trailers.