Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Toni Myers.
This film, shot largely on the International Space Station, makes great use of the 3D format and large IMAX screen to give us some stunning vistas of outer space, but also of the planet Earth. The film also gives us glimpses into the day to day lives and routines of astronauts as they carry out repairs and scientific experiments aboard the claustrophobic confines of the space station.
We meet the trio of astronauts – a Russian, and American and an Italian – who have spent six months on the space station before being rotated home and replaced by another crew. We don’t get a lot of insight into their personality and what makes them tick. But in a 45 minutes film like this time is tight and it is the stunning visuals that are important in this journey into space.
Director Toni Myers has collaborated with NASA on several other IMAX productions, including Blue Planet and Space Station 3D. The film was shot with next generation 4K digital cameras, which are much more compact and manageable than the usual large format IMAX cameras. Myers’ regular cinematographer James Neihouse had to train the astronauts on the use of the cameras, and given the cumbersome gear they have to wear it can’t have been an easy task.
The film captures the visual wonders of the world and experiences the impact that we have on the planet. The space station flies over the earth and we can see the results of deforestation and oil exploration, both of which leave visible scars on the planet’s surface. One of the visual highlights of the film though is the sequence showing the earth at night, with cities appearing as bursts of bright and vibrant light. It also highlights the vivid contrast between North and South Korea – South Korea is well lit up at night, while North Korea remains hidden in darkness, sinister and secretive.
But as well as some stunning visuals, A Beautiful Planet also aims to educate audiences as to environmental impact and the fragile nature of the planet. Narrated by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, the film has a strong environmental message as it looks at the effects of climate change and the consequences it has for our beautiful but fragile planet.
This visually stunning film that deserves to be seen on the big IMAX screen to fully appreciate it.