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Destination Moon
Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . PG . PAL


For the second last DVD in the Retro Sci-Fi Collection we have a gander at Destination Moon. This film could be considered one the grandfathers (Georges Melie's films are probably the Great Grandfathers) of modern science-fiction and the first out of the Hollywood studio system. Proving that it has always been impossible to make everyone happy, this is either regarded fondly by some as a classic, or by others as a boring, dated and overrated mosh - kind of the Armageddon of its day. Still, it went on to win an Academy Award for Best Special Effects in 1950, so that stuck it up a few people, didn't it? They'd probably counter that with "But it didn't win the Best Picture, did it?" to which I'd respond "Stick it up your clacker, ya whinger."

Like so many films which followed, the story is driven by the motivation that whoever gets to the moon first will control it and have the upper hand in controlling Earth. With the race on to get to the moon before the enemy, American Industrialists pony up when the government won't and fund the whole shebang. However, when there’s a public backlash over the firing of an atomic engine and the risk of radiation exposure, the crew decide to bring the launch forward and take off before the mission can be grounded. Off into space in their untested flying cigar, the crew must face all manner of dramas on their trip. Will they make it to the moon? Will they make it back alive? Will they have to leave someone behind? Stay tuned! For these questions and more will be answered in George Pal’s Destination Moon!

Feel free to skip this bit and move on to the transfer details if you like. I’m just going to tell you something stupid I did one night that kind of relates to this film. About 10 years ago, when I had only had a computer for about a year or so, and an Internet connection for just a few months, I was up at around 4am browsing various art websites, having always been a nightowl. In my travels I found the homepage of Chesley Bonestell, the artist responsible for the fantastic backdrops of the moon used in Destination Moon (amongst others) and was instantly hooked by his work. Being an aspiring artist myself, I was amazed by the quality of his paintings and his commitment to work in a field that probably wouldn’t have been a good choice for an artist wishing to make a living. So naturally, I wrote him an email. I told him how much I was inspired by his work, and how I found parallels between his and my own art at a time when I was disillusioned by my training and prospects. I recall writing something to the effect of “keep up the great work” as well. Well, about half an hour later, after reading through the site some more and coming across a biography, naturally I discovered he died about ?? years earlier. Feeling a bit stoopid, I quickly fired off another email to who I guessed where the living descendants of Chesley Bonestell and apologised, hoping I hadn’t offended anyone and claiming that’s what happens when you don’t get any sleep and stuff around on the internet at four in the morning.

Oh, and in case my ramblings have you wondering, I have laid off the beer while writing my reviews. This one was scribbled while imbibing Oakvale Old Liqueur Muscat instead. A fine drop which, like Destination Moon, I can heartily recommend you try, preferably at the same time while sitting back in your leather recliner with the lights suitably dimmed for the right atmosphere. Which reminds me, excuse me for a moment while I top up my glass...


Okay, I'm back again. So, what do we have here? Hmmm, a full frame picture which is close enough to the original 1.37:1 AR as makes no difference. The film was shot in technicolour, and has very warm and rich colours that result in unrealistic skin tones with a yellow glow resembling jaundice. In fact some scenes resemble the look of early hand coloured films. There's some expected wear and tear on the print, but it's not too bad. The transfer seems to suffer from an interlacing effect, with some fine white lines being the most noticeable highlight of this effect early on. Detail can be a bit variable, ranging from soft and indistinct to reasonably clear and sharp (with noticeable edge enhancement) at best.

The audio track isn't that remarkable, either. Slapped on the disc in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono like the rest of the series, it suffers from some muffled dialogue throughout which is hard to hear. The dialogue spoken while on the moon and in helmets is a little harsh on the ears, but acceptable 'cause there isn’t too much of it. You might find the occasional need to bump up the volume a little to ease clarity. As expected, it’s all a bit flat and lifeless with no real range to it, but it does the job and isn’t too bad, I suppose.

The only extra features on the DVD are one trailer for the film, and eight and a half minutes of trailers for other old sci-fi films, some of which are also in the Retro Sci -Fi DVD Collection. These are shown on a drive-in themed screen to keep it all in the mood. Although this seems like a good idea, and they should get points for trying something different, I personally would have liked to see them individually accessible and played fullscreen. Still, they are what they are, and that’ll have to do. Life shall go on.

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  •   And I quote...
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    - Vince Carrozza
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