First Men in the Moon

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

As a team of astronauts prepare to embark on a journey to the moon, the world celebrates the first band of people to land on the moon. The United Nations has been behind the trek from the start, which means it has plenty of funds, equipment, and minimal downsides. The mission goes off like clockwork and the team lands on the moon, but much to their surprise, they discover they weren’t the first humans to explore the lunar surface. The crew uncovers a British flag and a claim made on the moon for Queen Elizabeth, which means someone not only beat them to the moon, but did so long ago and kept the mission under wraps. So once they’ve returned, the team uses what little information they have to track down a member of that mission, who turns out to be Arnold (Edward Judd), a man who has never had anyone believe his incredible tale about the moon. He tells them the entire story and that includes an outlandish, but true account of a special paste that sent the trio skyward, toward the moon. As Arnold’s story unfolds, the team becomes more interested and before long, Arnold has them ready to return to the moon. But this time around, the moon won’t be as serene, thanks to the presence of some mean alien forces…

Columbia has unleashed another film that features the special effects handiwork of Ray Harryhausen, which is always good news. This time, we have First Men in the Moon and as based on H.G. Wells’ classic novel, this is a fun sci/fi movie with some nice visuals, most of which come thanks to Harryhausen’s magic. First Men in the Moon has some moments that elicit an unintentional laugh, but as do most sci/fi driven films from this time period and if you ask me, that simply adds charm to the picture. I mean, this is not a bad movie in the least, it is a well crafted, but now dated film that supplies plenty of entertainment. This is no Plan 9 from Outer Space, so don’t expect an array of cosmic mishaps, just some dated moments that raise a chuckle or two. As usual, Harryhausen’s visuals are a wonderful sight and might look a little outmoded, but I wouldn’t trade his handiwork in for all the CGI in the world, not a chance. I simply never tire of watching First Men in the Moon, as it has all the elements you need in a good sci/fi picture, plus numerous small touches, Harryhausen’s magic, and just a sense of wonder that you don’t see often. I highly recommend this film to those interested, especially since Columbia has released a solid disc here.

Video: How does it look?

First Men in the Moon is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Now this is one terrific visual treatment, much cleaner & sharper than prior home video editions, for fans this new transfer is a real eye opener, to say the least. The print still has some small nicks & marks, but grain is minimal and the image just seems to leap off the screen, it is that clean and alive, simply excellent work from Columbia here. A few scenes look a little less impressive, but even then, the image is leaps & bounds ahead of the others, which is great news indeed. The special effects laden scenes also show more grain on the whole, but look solid and for a lot of sequences here, the print is pristine, unbelievable stuff. I commend Columbia for finding great source materials and then delivering a fine transfer, one fans will be thrilled to no end with.

Audio: How does it sound?

A robust audio track is included here and while it won’t serve as a reference level material, First Men in the Moon has never sounded so sweet. I was pleased to find some effective, but natural separation present and that adds to the atmosphere, which is an important element here, especially in the lunar scenes. This won’t keep pace with modern full on surround mixes, but for what it is, there is a lot of great audio touches, no doubt about it. The awesome musical score comes through well also, as do the vocals, which sound crisp and consistent. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, and Thai.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the excellent The Harryhausen Chronicles documentary, a featurette titled This Is Dynamation, some still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer. I’ve enjoyed both of the included video supplements several times, but buyers of the other Columbia Harryhausen titles should remember them too, as they’re both on most of the discs.

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