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Blu-ray Review First Men in the Moon Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Richard Gallagher

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First Men in the Moon Blu-ray Review



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.



Studio: Sony

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, Other

Standard Blu-ray Case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/10/2015

MSRP: $29.95




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.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

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.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

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.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

This Twilight Time Blu-ray includes a number of worthwhile extras.

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.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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.


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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Mark-W

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The extra I really appreciate on this Blu-ray is the commentary with Ray Harryhausen. I had to go back and check my Sony DVD; the audio commentary is not on there. And, Cook mentions Twilight Time during the commentary. This may be the final Harryhausen commentary track and it sounds like it was recorded not long before Ray passed on. I am so happy to have this.
 
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I'm glad this has come out on Blu-ray but don't like the limited release policy of Twilight Time. Think I'll wait till it appears on general sale in the UK at a sensible price. I'll stick with the DVD till then.

Eddie Judd used to do 'Voice Overs' for me back in the 80's and 90's for corporate films. Hearing his voice on a film was like hearing an old friend. I was sad to hear he passed away about 5 years ago in a nursing home in Mitcham. He was an old pal of Michael Caine and I remember him introducing me to Mike at Pinewood when he was working for David Wickes on the 'Jack the Ripper' TV mini series.
 

SilverWook

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The disc is superb. I was impressed even the trailers seem to have been lovingly restored. (They look pretty rough on the old DVD.) And it's great Ray got to see his work in HD. Hopefully, they recorded commentaries for his other films not yet out on Blu Ray.


I was slightly disappointed they didn't mention how those U.N. spacesuits went on to be used in everything from 60's era Doctor Who, to the original Star Wars trilogy! One thing I never noticed before is the helmets the lunar module pilots wear look very similar to the emergency helmets seen aboard the Nostromo in Alien.


The only nit I can pick is the booklet came off the printing press cut a little too high. The bottom text on the interior pages was almost chopped off, and the poster on the back cover lost some credits as well. Did this happen to anyone else?
 

youworkmen

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When was the last time Sony released a movie in the UK that Twilight Time released in the UK? Oliver perhaps.

It doesn't happen very often. I agree TT prices can be a bit steep but order more than one movie or more copies of the same film and it brings the price down a bit. If you've held off buying from TT you've already missed Blurays of Golden Voyage of Sinbad , Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Mysterious Island . 3 Harryhausen classics unavailable elsewhere -apart from bootlegs that is.

The dvd isn't just a dvd quality version of this Bluray - its also a poor quality master by comparison.

For the first time ever , First Men In the Moon looks like it had a decent budget
 

Keith Cobby

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This was waiting for me (with Journey) on my return from holiday. I always order 2 blu's from TT. It spreads the cost a bit when importing to the UK. I have my TT blu-rays together on my shelves and I don't know why, perhaps it is because they are limited editions, but they feel a bit more special when I handle them.
 

Hollywoodaholic

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SilverWook said:
The only nit I can pick is the booklet came off the printing press cut a little too high. The bottom text on the interior pages was almost chopped off, and the poster on the back cover lost some credits as well. Did this happen to anyone else?

Mine (poster) is cropped okay. Totally enjoyed seeing this movie again in HD. Thought of all the times I watched this cropped and faded on some small television set back in the day. Back when you couldn't even notice the pulley wire holding the chair (and Judd) to the ceiling after the Cavorite was applied. But also I was shocked how big budget this movie actually must have been at the time.
 

Vegas 1

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I passed on the TT sale and ordered First Men in the Moon and Journey to the Center of the Earth instead, quite pleased with the look and sound of both films. Glad I ordered them before they are gone.
 

Richard Gallagher

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SilverWook said:
The only nit I can pick is the booklet came off the printing press cut a little too high. The bottom text on the interior pages was almost chopped off, and the poster on the back cover lost some credits as well. Did this happen to anyone else?

My booklet is fine. I suggest that you send an e-mail to Nick Redman about it and I'll bet that he will send you a replacement booklet.


Go to the thread on the TT 4th Birthday Celebration and click on Nick's user name (Twilight Time) and you'll see his e-mail address.
 

Virgoan

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This was a very enjoyable film presentation for me. The one drawback to my being totally enthralled is the expectedly "over-the-top" but very annoying performance by Lionel Jeffries. I say "expectedly" because Jeffries has enlivened many films with his particularly energetic if hammy performances. His role is so large here that it wearied me quite a bit. Otherwise, it's a wonderful bit of sci-fi/fantasy.
 

SilverWook

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I loved his performance. (I think it might be his best role.) Jeffries could probably play eccentric crackpots in his sleep, but Cavor had some depth. His internal conflict at things going badly with the Selenites is at the heart of the film's second half.
 

SilverWook

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Richard Gallagher said:
My booklet is fine. I suggest that you send an e-mail to Nick Redman about it and I'll bet that he will send you a replacement booklet.


Go to the thread on the TT 4th Birthday Celebration and click on Nick's user name (Twilight Time) and you'll see his e-mail address.
Thanks for the tip, Richard. :)
 

Keith Cobby

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SilverWook said:
I loved his performance. (I think it might be his best role.) Jeffries could probably play eccentric crackpots in his sleep, but Cavor had some depth. His internal conflict at things going badly with the Selenites is at the heart of the film's second half.

I agree. I have enjoyed all his films since seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child on its release.


Very happy with the quality of the blu-ray.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Never heard of this film and watched it for the first time this afternoon.


What a marvelous treat. Looked fantastic projected on my 118" screen.


And what a surprise to see Lionel Jeffries of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in this movie. Just the icing on the cake.


Really glad I had the opportunity to see this film with fun Harryhausen effects!
 

F451

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This is really a stellar treat. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) I became enamored with this film in its initial release. What an amazing film and imagination. I has read H.G. Wells' novel long before then and had looked forward to seeing the film simply because it had Ray Harryhausen's name on it. I was not disappointed.


The image and audio quality here is near reference grade. The extras present are quite good. The packaging utilizes the theatrical poster. All in all, it's imperial!


A side note. As a fan, I was fortunate to meet Mr Harryhausen twice -- once in Boulder, once in Denver. He was a real gentleman and had a handshake like iron. His contributions to motion pictures and the world of entertainment are enormous.


First Men in the Moon is a marvelous entertainment and the Twilight Time Blu-ray finally does it justice. Most highly recommended!
 

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