Tony Palmer’s Space Movie (MVD/Voiceprint) + Magnificent Desolation – Walking On The Moon (IMAX/HBO) + Robert Garofalo’s Apollo 11 + 13 (MVD
C+/B-/C/C+ Sound: C+/B-/C+/C+ Extras: C Film: B+/C+/B/B
of going to outer space still fascinates many people, but there are all
different kinds of approaches to looking at the subject. Four recent DVD releases take three very
different looks at the subject and we will look at each of them.
Robert Garofalo’s Apollo 11 + 13 are separate releases issued at
the same time that exhaustively edit together as much archival footage as
possible on their respective missions and turn out to be more substantial and
watchable than you might expect. Many
such collages have been on the weak side over the years as cash-in projects,
but these are decent. They can be rough
going at times for the conditions of the materials, but are solid records that
are education-worthy and archival in themselves.
Cowen’s IMAX/Tom Hanks-produced Magnificent
Desolation – Walking On The Moon is the most scientific and most expensive
of the productions, and not just because it uses IMAX, digital and production
costs are up, but its greatest flaw is that it is only 40 minutes and not the
best-looking IMAX production on space travel we have seen. Still, it justifies itself by having just
enough to offer the audience, though it could have had more. Too bad there was not a bonus IMAX presentation
or DTS sound, because the DVD certainly had the room.
the best release is from Tony Palmer, whose Beatles documentary All My Loving (reviewed elsewhere on
this site) is one of the best on the subject and his Space Movie (1979) is one of the most exciting looks at early space
flight you will ever see, with exciting editing, footage, pacing, use of music
and constant build up that starts of very well and just gets better and
better. No less than Mike Oldfield
supplies the original music and is the best of the four discs.
want all four, but if you must choose one, Space
Movie is the ticket.
DVDs are anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 except the 1.33 X 1 on the Apollo discs. Ironically, 11 looks the worse and the softest, while the Ron Howard film
itself was later reissued in IMAX. All
use stock footage that is on the aged side and needs some work, so it is no
surprise that despite the most video work, Desolation
is the best-looking of the four, though not always. It also has the best sound with a Dolby
Digital 5.1 mix, despite the Apollo
discs featuring DTS 5.1 mixes, they are just pumping up any audio they have,
which is better than Dolby Digital 2.0 or the like. It is Dolby 2.0 that Space Movie has, complete with the best use of music and editing of
sound and picture.
some extras, with Desolation
offering an interactive way to access archives on space flights. The Apollo
discs have interview featurettes and Space Movie has a half-hour making of
featurette and it is the best of the lot, is anamorphic 1.78 and has some
picture issues of its own, but is good.
- Nicholas Sheffo