on November 18, 2003
One of the greatest joys of DVD for me is not watching your latest block-buster, but seeing older films restored to their former glory. Two of the best are "Now Voyager" and "The Time Machine", but this film "Destination Moon" has to be the worst transfer I have ever seen and basically renders the film unwatchable. I didn't even get past the first ten minutes before it was back in it's box and is now being advertised for sale on eBay. Ghastly.
Destination Moon is a true classic. Although not as widely known today as "The Day The Earth Stood Still" or "Forbidden Planet", it easily stands up beside them as representing the absolute best that 1950's science fiction cinema had to offer.
Destination Moon is also a seminal film in that it represents "hard" science fiction. That is, it is a serious attempt to project into the future based on real science as known at the time of its creation. It's not a fantastical romp with gloss of pseudoscience applied for flavor. Nor is this a movie that spends much time exploring human relationships or emotions. This is pure science fiction for science fiction's sake.
Looking back from the vantage point of the early 21st century, its projections may not all have hit the mark. But even its misses are still thought provoking. In a contemporary context I'd encourage anyone to consider this movie in the light of the writings of astronautical engineer Robert Zubrin, or the actual hardware being built by Burt Rutan. Or the original Project Orion - America's real nuclear rocket program.
Destination Moon is a remarkable film and I highly recommend it.
As for the quality of the print... Well, it's watchable, but it is a disappointment. Especially given that one of the best things about this movie is the lunar landscape backdrop painted by famed illustrator Chesley Bonestell. Even today this work is still eerie and incredible to look upon. Destination Moon is no camp B-grade frolic where the crackles and scratches of aging celluloid are almost part of the charm. This movie deserves better. Incidentally, because reviews do tend to migrate around a bit and appear under versions other than the one they were originally written for, please let me stress that I am writing all this about Destination Moon [DVD]  [US Import].
Hidden away in one of the comments to the current "most helpful" review over on Amazon's US website is the information that a company called "Force Entertainment" in Australia is also putting out a DVD of this movie. Being in Australia myself I decided to chase it up. Unfortunately, judging by this review:
(I did give a web address in the previously submitted version of this review but Amazon decided to censor it)
...the Force Entertainment version doesn't sound like it's any better.
You'll notice I gave this product four stars. I took a star off simply because of the poor quality of the print. Ignoring the print and focusing purely on on the movie, Destination Moon easily deserves five.
on October 31, 2010
I had seen Destination: Moon before a couple of years ago on TCM, but now it's fresh in my mind.
Firstly I'll get the negative out of the way. I'm disappointed with the general quality of the dvd transfer. This really should be cleaned up for the best colour and removal of periodic visual noise. In that way you could really appreciate the film's visual spectacle which is quite good within context of what they were trying to depict.
There's a lot of good detail in this film and I felt that even with what we know today there isn't much inaccurate. Certainly in context of what was known when the film was made it's very good with the details of space flight. For example I appreciated that they let the actors grow their facial hair since shaving in zero-g wouldn't have been practical and it's just like contemporary astronaut practices. I also liked that while care was shown in showing the characters moving differently in zero-g and on the lunar surface they didn't move with exaggerated slowness. It isn't exactly like actual footage we've seen of Apollo astronauts on the moon, but it's close. I quite liked some of the background details such as private industry being heavily involved in getting into space because it's much like the reality of space programs since the '60s and especially today with private enterprise endeavouring to get space tourism off the ground and made practical. And while I can't say how realistic it is I did like the sense of enthusiasm and urgency the characters conveyed. A great strength of the film is the realism of the characters behaviour and dialogue. There was absolutely nothing B-grade about either. Within the context of the story their behaviour is quite believable. I also appreciate that the sense of urgency is derived from a believable scenario rather than something contrived---it made it all seem more credible.
The Chesley Bonestell artistic influence is quite evident and it's wonderful. No, the film's lunar surface doesn't look as we now understand it, but it's fascinating nonetheless and really conveys a tangible sense of alien environment. I also rather liked the different colour space suits to help identify who is who while outside the ship. Mind you the perfectly clear faceplates of the helmets was amusing given what we now know of the brightness of the sun on the moon. The scenes depicting the Moon and Earth from space are very nice except that the starfields look a little too hokey.
I really like the design of the spaceship Luna. Of course it's nothing like the multistage utilitarian design of a real Saturn V rocket, but it really nails the romanticized idea of future space travel. I love the Luna's clean lines and ideal proportions as well as its silvery finish, a high-tech bullet fired into space and into the future. Wonderful! I only wish we could have seen the ship sail back into Earth's atmosphere and land again.
In it's own way Destination: Moon was a hard SF film much like 2001: A Space Odyssey would be eighteen years later, and it doesn't suffer for it. It clearly shows that in an era of B sci-fi flicks with bug-eyed monsters there were folks who wanted to aim higher.
on June 1, 2004
This film was not the first dealing with a voyage to the moon (this honor goes to George Melies 1902 film, "Le Voyage dans la lune"), nor was it the first one to treat the subject realistically (Fritz Lang's 1929 "Frau im Mond" beat it by 20 years. However, the film's large budget (for its time), high class special effects, and attempt at realistically portraying a trip to the moon put this film in a class by itself. Perhaps the single most important factor in making this a milestone film was simply the timing. Released some eight years before the official start of the space age, this film was a training film for future space scientists, aerospace engineers (I was one), and astronauts.
Looking back, the film's mistakes are among its most interesting features: 1) the moon's surface is cracked by ubiquitous deep fissures (can't be, because there never was any water); 2) ship is powered by atomic energy (turned out to be too hard and too dangerous); 3) communication with earth is sporadic and primitive (during the Apollo missions, TV was everywhere); 4) no rocket staging (the Apollo vehicle had many stages which were discarded along the way; presumably atomic power made this obsolete); 5) no computers used for control (computers were probably seen as to big and heavy to put in a spaceship).
Suspense and drama are provided when it is discovered the ship is too heavy to return (this is solved). Humor is provided by the kid from Brooklyn. Unusual for a Hollywood movie is the absence of a love interest (Fritz Lang's movie did not resist this temptation). Another interesting aspect of the film was the palpable cold war paranoia. To summarize: although the dialog is stilted, the plot somewhat artificial, and even George Pals and Bonestell's special effects are dated, when it comes right down to it no space video library can be without this film!
on May 28, 2003
I enjoyed the movie, and am glad that I bought it.
However, the quality of this as a DVD is pretty poor.
I realize this movie is 53 years old, but no effort was made to clean up the print for the supposed "50th Anniversary Edition", as it says on the box. This was apparently transfered from a VHS copy, or even an old set of reels.
Every time there is a reel change, you get those obnoxious reel change dots in the upper right corner. There is static, a lot of pops, a few jumps in scenes, the funniest being a scene where the captain says "let's get into our bunks", they get half-way there, and BOOM they're in their bunks, finishing off a sentence. Also, after each reel change, the film is scratched for the next few seconds.
The only "special feature" is the theatrical trailer at the very end of the movie.
Since demand for this movie will probably not force a better version, this will probably be your only chance to get this classic movie on DVD.
I do recommend the movie, but be aware of the quality before you buy it.
on June 9, 2001
George Pal's "Destination Moon" is a CLASSIC Science Fiction Movie of the 1950's. I recommend it to everyone. HOWEVER be aware that the DVD edition is made from an EXTREMELY POOR QUALITY print. Its scratchy, its noisy in places and scenes are shortened by a few seconds where broken film has been joined etc. etc. etc. (Its painful to watch sometimes). Come on the guys at IMAGE Entertainment; if your going to put out a DVD of a movie like this; (especially for its 50th Anniversary); at least get a GOOD QUALITY print!!!! Perhaps even get a NEW one made from the original negatives IF possible. I pulled my 15 year old BETAMAX video; (yes it still works!); from the archives and it looks 100% BETTER then the DVD version you have supplied!!!!! So be warned fans of this George Pal Movie; its a GREAT film, but Image Entertainment have decided to supply you, the customer, with an inferior quality product. This DVD version is extremely disapointing to people like me who who loved the film and who where looking forward to something BETTER. If you can't find a better QUALITY version on VHS, buy this DVD, otherwise FORGET IT. The film gets 4 stars; for the quality of the print it gets -1. The sleeve notes are good however at the end of the day I feel like I have wasted my money. Jay R. Eneberg.
on September 15, 2000
Rather than call Destination Moon a science fiction film - George Pal labled his opus "a documentary of the near future". Pre-dating man's landing on the moon by at least a quarter century - it is a marvel how ahead of their time George Pal, Robert Heinlein, Irving Pichel, Chesley Bonestell and others who contributed to this film were. That speech by Neil Armstrong claiming the moon for all mankind - is actually duplicated here - a quarter of century before Neil Armstrong ever dreamt of landing on the moon or even contemplated writing that speech. That alone makes this film a landmark in the annals of film and space science history. George Pal's amazing ideas proove once again the great effect he had on science, writers, movies and even astronauts! Also to get a fabulous overview of this movie with many star interviews, crystal clear film sequences and amazing archival footage of Pal - buy the newly released on DVD expanded director's cut version of THE FANTASY FILM WORLDS OF GEORGE PAL by director Arnold Leibovit. It is positively sensational and one of the finest tributes ever done. There is an added 45 minute bonus kinescope sequence filmed on the actual set of Destination Moon in 1950. Appearances by Robert Heinlein, Chesley Bonestell, the stars of the film, the set, Irving Pichell, George Pal and more. No science fiction or fandom fan can be without the new DVD release of THE FANTASY FILM WORLDS OF GEORGE PAL!
on June 6, 2000
Image's DVD release of DESTINATION MOON is one of the company's better ones. The 50th Anniversary Edition features a short essay by Tom Weaver in its fold-out cover, and it also includes the original theatrical trailer. While the print perhaps could be better, I didn't find it particularly distracting in any manner.
As for the movie itself, this one's a classic, if not for any other reason than its historical importance. This is one of the first "serious" science fiction films of the 1950s and was written by the great sf author Robert Heinlein. The story revolves around four astronauts, their trip to the moon, and the difficulties they encounter preparing for the return trip to Earth. While certain details are inaccurate, the movie is still enjoyable, overall, for today's audience. The lunar landscape is still impressive. DESTINATION MOON, by the way, won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Special Effects.
The DVD of DESTINATION MOON runs 91 minutes. I'd certainly recommend it to science fiction fans. As an extra "bonus," a Woody Woodpecker cartoon about basic physics is embedded in the movie.
on March 2, 2000
This is a significant movie in the history of science fiction cinema, but it's hit and miss as a movie. The special effects, especially the matte paintings by Chesley Bonestell, are outstanding, but the story is pretty thin and the characters are strictly two dimensional. It was one of the first movies to treat space travel scientifically and that was both a good and bad thing. It created a sense of reality in the story that is fairly effective, but at the same time some of the exposition is pretty dry (even Woody Woodpecker can only do so much with it) and the big crisis at the end of the movie doesn't involve us as much as it should.
The DVD is also hit and miss. When it's good, the video is pretty impressive for a 50 year old movie, but there are a lot of frames marred by scratches. The color is true and the picture is sharp but the scratches become distracting at times. The audio also displays a surprising amount of noise for a DVD transfer. It's a shame this movie hasn't been restored to better condition. There are no extras except for an interesting printed history of the film on the despised snap case.
Despite my caveats, I do think this is a must for any serious collector of sci-fi film. As others have commented, Destination Moon made space travel believable to the public and paved the way for the real space program. And it is especially desirable for any Heinlein fan. Even with its faults, this is certainly the best treatment his work has had on film so far.
Not exactly a Five Star movie , but it is a movie of Five Star significance. The recent Biography of Robert a Heinlein by Lawrence H Pattison Jr. gives a very good idea of the preliminaries of getting the movie made. Robert Heinleins' personal agenda included
trying to write Science Fiction that would involve the public in the space industry , so getting a movie out must have been a big
win for him. The movie is based on a book called "Rocket Ship Galileo" . Some of the science has been expanded on since ,
but the movie was accurate as they could make it at the time. Produced by George Pal , and won an Oscar for its' special effects,
which by modern standards are no longer so special. Of interest to sci-fi types and fans of RAH. This movie has a definite place
on the sequence of events that eventually lead into space.