Our review of From The Earth To The Moon: The Signature Edition, published October 10th, 2005, is also available.
We choose to go to the moon…
From the Earth to the Moon is nothing less than a ground breaking achievement for Tom Hanks and cable television. A 12 part mini-series, From the Earth to the Moon covers all aspects of the NASA led Apollo program, whose aim was to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. HBO releases a stellar DVD set to accompany their monumental series that will live in my memory for years to come.
I've always been fascinated with space travel. You can give credit to Star Wars and Star Trek for spurring my imagination, but NASA is the organization who has allowed everyone to believe we really can travel into space. The Apollo program was spurred decades before NASA would even consider placing a man on the moon because of Soviet pressure, and President John F. Kennedy's promise to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. If the race to the moon was lost, the Apollo program would have been looked upon as one of the United States' costliest mistakes ever; but in winning the race it became mankind's greatest achievement to date. As an American the Apollo moon landings give me a great sense of pride, in the fact that my country did it; however, it should not be limited to an American achievement because it truly is one the entire world should take pride in.
Thankfully, Tom Hanks has done a truly incredible job in bringing the trials of the Apollo program to life in his From the Earth to the Moon mini-series. The 12 part series progresses through the stages of the Apollo program and covers various aspects of the program, creating the most comprehensive look into the Apollo program that I have ever witnessed.
"Can We Do This?"
"We Have Cleared The Tower"
"That's All There Is"
"We Interrupt This Program"
"For Miles & Miles"
"Galileo Was Right"
"The Original Wives Club"
"Le Voyage Dans La Lune"
All episodes in this set are presented in the 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The video quality is good, although not breathtaking. Squeezing four episodes in full frame on to a dual layered disc seems to have compromised the quality of the video. Still, the resolution on the image is high, daylight scenes perform flawlessly, and black level is dead on, which is especially important during sequences in outer space.
Surprisingly, the audio on this disc is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital (surprising because this was a TV mini-series). Rear channels are not too active, but during shuttle launches and scenes in outer space, both the rear channels and subwoofer are put to good use. Dialogue is placed well on the front sound stage and when the series' majestic score blasts through your speakers you can't help but feel that you are witnessing something special.
To compliment this comprehensive series, HBO has provided an entire disc full of extra content. There are two featurettes, one an HBO "First Look" at the series, which runs about 30 minutes in length and helps to shed some light on the great effort that it took to get this series made. The second featurette only runs about 5 minutes long, but contains interesting information about the special effects used in the series and how they were created. Also available is a cool little section with 3D models of crafts used in the series, including the Saturn V rocket and the Lunar Excursion Module. HBO crams in a ton of information screens on this disc, which covers each planet in the solar system, mission objectives for each Apollo mission, a full transcript of John F. Kennedy's moon speech, a time-line of the space missions, and information on the history of the moon. If that wasn't enough, HBO also provides trailers for each episode, 12 in total.
For those with DVD-ROM (which I do not have), HBO provides even more extra content. Compatible with both PC and Macintosh DVD-ROMs, you can access information on the future of space travel, go beyond solar system, read Kennedy's speech, uncover information on famous astronomers, and go inside space crafts with Quicktime VR clips.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I loved the series, I loved the extra content, I loved the acting, I loved the music; I loved the DVD set as a whole. I have but one quip: the video transfer. In each episode there is usually some picture noise and detectable grain on the transfer, especially during scenes with brown colors. At the end of "The Original Wives Club" there is a huge picture error with the back of a character's hair being completely bleached out; artifacting when the head of the character moves. Four episodes per disc might just have been too much.
Although this set is pricey ($100 street) you get the most for your money. This is a comprehensive, accurate, and entertaining look into mankind's greatest endeavor. From the Earth to the Moon should be required viewing for all American History courses and for anyone who has even been awed by man's flight to the moon.
Acquitted on all counts.
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Scales of Justice
• 30-Minute "HBO First Look" Featurette
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