Space Junk 3D (Blu-ray Review)

Whenever I hear about a new IMAX film, my ears go up faster than a bloodhound’s on a fox hunt. The latest to arrive on Blu-ray, is Space Junk 3D. If you’re like me, you may have had a difficult time taking that title seriously at first. I mean, it has to be more “look at what we can do in 3D, here’s a satellite flying at your face” effect than anything else, right? Wrong. IMAX isn’t in the business of comedies and this was consistent with their history of a brief, but quality-created documentary. So what’s the big deal about space junk anyway?




What goes up, must come down…right?  Not necessarily.  Actor Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, Batman Begins) narrates this 35-minute (approximately) documentary that covers what’s covering us.  Humans have been sending rockets and satellites up in orbit for the last 50 years.  Satellites are like cars in that they’re a vehicle (of sorts) that doesn’t last forever.  Unfortunately, there’s no satellite heaven they disappear to when their time is up.  The large craft continue to circle the earth; too low to drift out of earth’s gravitational pull, too high to fall into the atmosphere and burn up.

Space Junk 3D makes heavy use out of CGI interpretations and reenactments.  It’s not like there’s a lot of video to go around of satellites colliding or watching loose bolts fly off an expended rocket fuselage, so computer recreation is mostly what you’ll see here.  Make no mistake about it though, as it doesn’t make the content any less interesting.  With the amount of communications and weather satellites that roam one of the three levels of earth’s orbit, it can be a bit disconcerting to think of what could happen should one run astray and collide with another…or worse, collide with the International Space Station.  After all, the former has already happened.  Let’s hope the latter does not.


Displayed in beautiful 1080p with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Space Junk 3D barely squeaks out a perfect score here.  Why does that sound a wee bit negative?  As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of CGI usage here, some of which involves some very basic animated diagrams such as moving dots, lines or grids.  Though some of these are pretty much bare bones representations of floating debris, they are done without any visual noise, and I can’t fault quality of the picture because of some smooth block graphics.  Nevertheless, colors are lush in the real world footage and are easily achieved in the CGI runtime.  Think of it as a score of ‘5’ with an asterisk.


There is some quality use of 3D here, and while it’s quite good, it still falls a little short to a disc like Amazing Ocean 3D.  With that being said, it’s still a constant here and will certainly impress your guests.  From the flight over a massive Arizona crater to the animation of displaced satellite parts, it’s depth technology at some of its best.


As it is a documentary, that of course means this is a dialogue-heavy disc.  As with most dialogue on a surround sound system, the front speakers get the most workout in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio presentation.  Various sound effects such as a spacecraft’s liftoff or ambient mission control sounds filter through the rear channels.  I would have liked some more content to come from those speakers behind me, thus allowing for a more immersive experience.  It’s certainly not a bad experience, just not an all-encompassing one.


Extras?  What extras?  They really skimped here and took the opportunity to advertise for their other 3D films.  While I was intrigued by some of the other IMAX 3D Blu-rays out there, I was disappointed overall.  The first two extras are incredibly short and the second one is actually comprised of part of the first one.  It’s like saying Lady Gaga’s The Fame and The Fame Monster are two totally separate albums.  They’re not.  The latter of the two is just version 1.5, but I digress.

  • Interview with Tom Wilkinson – Sneeze and this one’s over.  The actor discusses the present and future state of man-made space debris. (1:32)
  • Behind the Scenes (Video) – Producer/Director Melissa Butts shares a thought on creating Space Junk 3D, then we see Tom Wilkinson reading his lines.  Then we also see part of Tom’s interview from the first extra. (2:43)
  • Behind the Scenes (Gallery) – Here we get to watch a slideshow of production shots…all 79 seconds worth.  Woo hoo. (1:19)
  • Trailers – This extra offers up a total of nine high def 3D trailers.  The resolution was a welcomed surprise, as was the 3D bonus.  Then again, if you want viewers to buy the 3D disc, how else would you show the trailer?


I will definitely be revisiting this disc as it became the double-edged sword we hope documentaries can be; both educating and entertaining.  Tom Wilkinson proves to be a suitable narrator and the demonstrations give viewers a glimpse at some very likely scenarios that could occur with all the spent orbiting junk that is stuck in transit.  When it comes to cosmic garbage, there’s not a stone that Space Junk 3D left unturned.






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