IMAX 'Voyage' measures all things great and small

February 07, 1997|By Chris Kridler | Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF

On a scale between infinite space and infinitesimal particles dwell creatures called humans. They are drops in the cosmic well. But despite their paltry insignificance in the great scheme of things, these beings are so wondrous that they can take us from universe to quark in a mere 35 minutes.

That is the journey we undertake in "Cosmic Voyage," the new IMAX film playing at the Maryland Science Center as part of its "To the Stars" theme in this Baltimore bicentennial. Writer, director and producer Bayley Silleck makes us feel tiny in his depictions of the vastness of the cosmos, but he also exhilarates with this vision of our mysterious beginnings and our place in the universe.

"Cosmic Voyage" may seem familiar to fans of the late Carl Sagan's series on PBS, "Cosmos," which examined the breadth of human knowledge and the expanses of space. This look at existence, however, is more concisely contained, even if it is depicted in the spectacular big-screen IMAX format.

Starting from Venice, Italy, where Galileo invented the telescope, "Voyage" moves outward in distances of powers of 10 -- one meter, then 10 meters, then 100 meters and so on -- until it reaches the known limits of our universe in just 26 steps. From acrobats' hoops in St. Mark's Square, circles are then drawn over and over on the screen, expanding along with our perspective.

Then the film reverses itself, moving into smaller and smaller realms until we see a computer-animated rendering of quarks at the heart of sub-atomic particles. There's a lot of computer animation here, blended smoothly with footage of actual places and phenomena.

Of course, no modern movie is complete without an explosion. "Cosmic Voyage" goes for the original blast in a flashy re-creation of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. This colorful conflagration makes us wonder what the end will be like.

Morgan Freeman's stately, resonant narration is the perfect accompaniment to the majesty of the images we see on the giant screen. And carrying us along emotionally is a wonderful orchestral score by David Michael Frank. It's all very sweeping, and the combined effect is quite intoxicating. (Fortunately, for kids who have the attention span of a gnat, it's also short.)

Carl Sagan would approve.

'Cosmic Voyage'

Directed by Bayley Silleck

Narrated by Morgan Freeman

Released by Imax Corporation

Rating: Unrated

Where: IMAX theater at Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St. When: Shows through the day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; runs through May 22

Admission: $9; $7 for children 4-17, military personnel and seniors; children under 4 admitted free; price includes all Science Center attractions

Call: (410) 685-5225

Sun score: ***

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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