- Dec 9, 2001
- Fishkill, NY
- Real Name
- Rich Gallagher
First Men in the Moon is an enjoyable adaptation of the novel by H.G. Wells. The film is a visual treat, with very realistic depictions of the surface of the moon and exceptional special effects by the renowned Ray Harryhausen. Sony has produced another outstanding Blu-ray transfer for this limited edition release from Twilight Time.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, OtherStandard Blu-ray Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/10/2015
The Production Rating: 4/5
First Men in the Moon opens with the successful landing of a manned lunar mission under the auspices of the United Nations. Following a flawless landing on the moon, an astronaut becomes the first human to set foot on the lunar surface. Or does he? When the members of the crew set out to collect moon rocks, they make a most unexpected discovery - a small flag of Great Britain and a note claiming the moon for Queen Victoria! The note was signed in 1899 by a woman named Katherine Callender. When the shocking news of the discovery is radioed back to earth, a frenzied effort to locate Callender gets underway. The space authorities learn that Callender is deceased, but that her husband is alive and living in a retirement home.
The husband is Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd), now physically frail but mentally alert. When he is shown a photograph of the flag which was found on the moon, he declares that the men who landed there are in mortal danger. Pressed for details, he tells the story of his amazing journey. We are taken back to 1899, where Bedford, a writer, is trying to write a novel in a cottage in rural England. He is visited by his girlfriend, Kate Callender (Martha Hyer), who wants to marry him. Bedford explains that he is being pursued by creditors and that he cannot afford to get married until he gets his finances in order.
An opportunity seems to arise when Kate meets Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries), an eccentric and excitable neighbor who says that he wants to buy Bedford's cottage because he is conducting dangerous experiments nearby and he does not want to hurt anyone. Kate believes that selling the cottage will allow Bedford to pay off his debts and they then will be able to get married. When she tells Bedford about what has transpired, he rushes over to Cavor's property to tell him that he is not interested in selling.
Bedford's intentions are tossed out the window when he discovers that Cavor has invented a gravity-neutralizing substance he has called Cavorite. Bedford, who has unwisely invested in surplus Army boots, begins to think of ways to add Cavorite to the soles of his boots and make them marketable. Cavor, however, has a grander plan in mind. He has already built a sphere which, once Cavorite is applied to it, will be able to transport him to the moon. Bedford decides to trade his cottage to Cavor in return for an interest in Cavorite, and he then agrees to accompany Cavor on his journey to the moon. As it turns out, getting to the moon is the easy part.
The first half of First Men on the Moon gets a bit silly at times, as director Nathan Juran (20 Million Miles to Earth, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) indulges himself with more humor than is necessary. However, things turn more serious once the sphere reaches its destination, and both the set design and Ray Harryhausen's visual effects are outstanding. The three leads capably handle their roles, but it is Lionel Jeffries who leaves the most lasting impression as Cavor.
First Men in the Moon is an intelligent and exciting science fiction film which will delight fans of the genre.
This superb 1080p high definition transfer is encoded with the AVC codec and is framed at 2.35:1. The image is highly detailed, with strong contrast, solid black levels, and excellent shadow detail. Colors and vibrant and accurate, and flesh tones are just as they should be. An appropriate level of film grain has been retained, giving this Blu-ray disc a pleasing, film-like appearance. There are no signs of dirt, reel marks, dirt, or other age-related anomalies. It is yet another first-class Blu-ray transfer provided to Twilight Time by Sony.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English 5.1 DTS HD-MA audio is beyond reproach. There is a great deal of action in this film, and the surround channels get plenty to do during various explosions and adventures which take place on the moon. Dialogue is confined the center channel and every word is clear and understandable. The score by Laurie Johnson sounds as clean as if it was recorded this year. English SDH subtitles are available.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
This Twilight Time Blu-ray includes a number of worthwhile extras.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
A commentary track by Ray Harryhausen and special effects artist Randall William Cook is very informative, and I always enjoy hearing Harryhausen discuss his work.
Randall William Cook also appears in a brief segment entitled "Randall William Cook Introduces First Men in the Moon." Much of what he says about Ray Harryhausen will be familiar to fans, but it is interesting nonetheless.
"Tomorrow the Moon" is a vintage Columbia featurette which recounts the efforts by the United States to get astronauts to the moon by the end of the Sixties, and then segues into the making of First Men in the Moon.
The original theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer also are included.
As is always the case with Twilight Time releases, this Blu-ray disc includes an isolated score track and an incisive essays by film historian Julie Kirgo.
Sales of First Men in the Moon have been limited to three copies per customer, but as of the publication of this review there are still copies available. Readers who are interested in purchasing this Blu-ray can order it at the Screen Archives website. Scalpers are listing it for more than $60.00 on Amazon, so caveat emptor.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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