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'Hubble 3D' is out of this world

Hubble 3D (G)

3 stars out of 4

Although it certainly comes in handy on a couple of occasions, 3-D isn’t that important of a feature for a documentary like “Hubble 3D.” If you have a space-based telescope that can clearly present actual images that are 150 trillion miles from Earth with the clarity of a microscope, 3-D becomes redundant. You also don’t need 3-D for static scenes in a brightly lit cement room showing astronauts being suited up prior to launch.

What does make absolute sense here is the IMAX format and its accompanying teeth-rattling sound system. Two sequences featuring the launch of the space shuttle Discovery are utterly spectacular. About halfway through for about 15 minutes, narrator Leonardo DiCaprio borders on the reverential when he uncorks a laundry list of facts and figures about a solar system that is unfolding in front of us that would put anything in any science-fiction movie to shame.

After two unsuccessful tries in the ’50s and ’70s, the technology associated with 3-D has finally become fiscally justifiable and artistically friendly. James Cameron’s “Avatar” is the perfect example of a film that employs the flashy medium in the ideal context. Much can be said about a few animated movies (“Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and even the narrative-wanting “Monsters vs. Aliens”). Slapping it on in post-production (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Clash of the Titans,” “The Last Airbender”) is simply a deceptive cash-in for Hollywood to make a couple of extra bucks. “Hubble 3D” certainly doesn’t fit that description, but it also doesn’t warrant the additional ticket price 3-D productions command.

“Hubble 3D” — all 46 minutes of it — makes the best use of the IMAX medium since the ’90s when you could only catch these movies at the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta. Needless to say, if you’re someone who has to see every “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” movie the day it opens, you need to do the same thing for this film. It’s better than make believe. (Warner Brothers)