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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Imax: Hail Columbia
Imax: Hail Columbia
Warner Bros. // Unrated // October 2, 2001
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 24, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

This 1982 IMAX film is a little more narrowly focused than many of the large-format's more recent space-themed pictures, but still quite enjoyable. Where pictures like 1994's "Destiny In Space" spend parts of its time watching the repair of the Hubble telescope, looking at life in space and discussing present and future possibilities for exploration, this 19-year old picture takes a marvelous look at the stress and joy surrounding the preparation and launch of the Columbia space shuttle. Although the older film does suffer from the likely technical limitations of the time, it still does capture the events leading up to the launch quite well, exploring the possible dangers involved in both launch and re-entry.


The DVD

VIDEO: As with all Warner IMAX titles (and most IMAX titles in general), "Hail Columbia!" is presented in 1.33:1 full_frame. A 1982 picture, there are some age-related flaws visible at times during the presentation. Sharpness and detail often varies; some of the footage looks rather soft and grainy, while most sequences appear at least mildly well-defined, if not completely crisp.

Other problems occured as the movie went on. A couple of instances of noticable, but not very distracting, edge enhancement appeared. Some minor instances of wear were seen, as a few speckles and marks on the print used were visible. Again, although some of the footage seemed fairly sharp and crisp, there were some moments that appeared grainy. No pixelation or other flaws were spotted, though. Colors looked fine; they appeared slightly flat at times, but usually came across as at least fairly natural and accurate. Overall, a decent effort, but not without some infrequent problems.

SOUND: As with all of the IMAX titles presented by Warner Brothers, "Hail Columbia!" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The difference between this film's sound presentation and the other recent space-themed IMAX titles from the studio is that this is simply an older release. In comparison to mid-90's pictures like "Mission To Mir" and "Destiny In Space", the 5.1 soundtrack for "Hail Columbia!" sort of pales in comparison.

The film's soundtrack still is quite active. Surrounds do flare up often for ambient sounds and, as with the other recent IMAX space titles, voices do occasionally come from the surrounds. Yet, the surround use here occasionally comes off as somewhat thin and hollow sounding in comparison to the smooth surround use exhibited in some of the more recent large-format releases.

Audio quality was generally okay. Although the score still sounded strong and crisp, some of the sounds and sound effects during the movie sounded a little on the thin or hollow side on occasion. The 2 rocket launches shown in the picture sounded simply loud - all speakers reared up to provide an immersive experience, but although it sounded loud, it didn't have that full, rich rumble that launches in some other recent films presented. Long story short, the film's 5.1 soundtrack included here did provide a fairly agressive experience, but the sound quality of the 19-year old picture did have some weaknesses.

MENUS:: Static film-themed menus are included, but the score does play in the background.

EXTRAS:: Only a general IMAX trailer.

Final Thoughts: "Hail Columbia!" was a fairly informative and entertaining piece, but it never really built up that much tension or engaged me as heavily as other IMAX features. Warner Brothers presents a decent DVD edition; the nearly 20-year old picture displayed some minor audio/video flaws, but the presentation was otherwise decent. No real supplements, though.


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