DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main

Al Reinart
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell
An in-depth look at various NASA moon landing missions.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 4/26/2022

• Audio Commentary with Filmmaker Al Reinert and Astronaut Eugene Cernan
• “An Accidental Gift” Featurette
• “On Camera” Interviews
• “Paintings from the Moon” Gallery
• NASA Audio Highlights
• “3, 2, 1… Blast Off!” Compilation
• Booklet
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


For All Mankind: Criterion Collection [4K UHD] (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson/Chris Galloway (April 12, 2022)

As a kid, I would always fantasize about walking on the Moon. Space in general always left me amazed, and the possibility I could visit the Moon enchanted me.

That probably will never happen, but that doesn't impact my fascination with space exploration, the planets and the Moon. This left me eager to watch 1989’s For All Mankind, a documentary about the Apollo missions that uses actual footage.

As I went into Mankind, I anticipated wonderful footage of the Moon and of space itself. While I got that, I managed to also find one of the most appealing documentaries I have ever seen. I don't think I've seen a movie that captures the excitement, wonderment and pure exhilaration of any subject like this one does.

During the Apollo missions, cameras and film went along and the astronauts took footage of their flights and landings. This footage collected dust for a couple decades until director Al Reinert managed to get his hands on it and put together a film that documented these trips.

The movie takes film from all the missions and blends them together to give the illusion of one space flight. The actual commanders on the missions relate their feelings during different stages of the trips.

The scenes in space become the film’s most entrancing. The astronauts detail aspects of their experiences, down to the inevitable questions about how they deal with bodily functions

The Moon landing footage works best, and this material just amazes me. The film captures the magic of this event vividly.

Mankind conveys the excitement that the astronauts must have felt. I've never seen a film that held me completely captivated like this one does.

Some people may not feel as mesmerized as I did, but my amazement with space itself more than likely helped me get so overwhelmed by it. I was hooked and felt the same things everyone else must have.

Mankind is wonderful and covers an era that held some of the most important events in human history. For All Mankind is a classic that keeps the memory of these actions alive.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus

For All Mankind appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 and of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Shot on 16mm film, the Dolby Vision disc offered a good replication of the source.

If that sounds like a conditional recommendation, it is. 16mm material recorded under less than ideal circumstances in the late 1960s/early 1970s won’t give you material to show off your fancy TV.

Nonetheless, the images looked fine given those constraints. Sharpness seemed adequate, as the presentation never boasted great accuracy, but it felt appropriate given the nature of the source.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed natural, and outside of a few anomalies baked into the original photography, source defects failed to create distractions.

Colors tended to seem somewhat flat and bland. Again, this reflected the original film, as the 16mm stock and the various settings leaned in that direction.

While not memorable, the hues felt acceptable within the limitations of the footage. The disc’s HDR gave colors a little extra bite, but they lacked the range to show real improvements.

Blacks seemed fairly deep, while shadows demonstrated reasonable delineation. HDR added some impact to whites and contrast, though again, there was only so much the 4K could do. Given the restrictions of the source, nothing here impressed, but the image worked fine for what it was.

Note that for this review, I mainly screened the 1.33:1 version, as that represented the original aspect ratio. I did check out part of the cropped 1.85:1 edition, and it presented similar quality.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it opened up fairly nicely. Of course, much of the audio came from material created specifically for the film and not from original recordings, so that allowed the mix to broaden its horizons.

Music spread nicely to the side and rear channels, and effects gave us a good sense of the events. Of course, blast-offs became the most impressive, but other airborne elements created an appealing impression.

The soundscape didn’t go nuts, and that made sense, as the combination of old 16mm and a super-active soundfield wouldn’t fly. The mix offered a nice expansion of the audio without overdoing it.

Audio quality satisfied, with dialogue as the inevitable weak link, Decades-old material recorded under less than ideal conditions meant speech tended to seem tinny and thin. Nonetheless, these components remained perfectly intelligible most of the time, and their verisimilitude overcame any flaws.

Music boasted nice range, while effects came across as accurate and bold, with strong low-end when appropriate. The soundtrack acted as a compelling counterpart to the visuals.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2009? Audio remained identical, as both came with the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 material.

As for the Dolby Vision image, it marked minor improvements, as it felt a bit more stable and vivid. However, the nature of the source meant that the 4K couldn’t do much to upgrade the Blu-ray. I’d prefer to watch the 4K, but this didn’t become a notable step up.

Note that the 1.85:1 version only appears on the 4K disc. The Blu-ray came solely with the 1.33:1 ratio.

Only one extra appears on the 4K disc: an audio commentary from director Al Reinert and Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan. Taped in 1999, both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of space flight and the creation of the documentary.

While Reinart gives us some good notes about how he put together Mankind, Cernan becomes the commentary’s MVP. He brings us great first-person notes about his experiences, and these allow the track to become winnng.

Additional extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and An Accidental Gift runs 32 minutes and provides info from Reinart, NASA film editors Chuck Welch and Don Pickard, NASA film vault curator Morris Williams, NASA lead librarian Mike Gentry and astronaut Alan Bean.

“Gift” looks at the origins of Mankind as well as aspects of its production and the original footage. The show expands on the material from Reinart in the commentary and offers an appealing view of the movie’s assembly.

Next comes On Camera, a collection of interviews. In this 20-minute, 35-35-second piece, we hear from Cernan and astronauts Charlie Duke, Al Worden, Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad, William Anders, James Lovell, Michael Collins, Stuart Roosa, Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell, James Irwin, John Young, Frank Borman, and Rusty Schweikart.

The astronauts discuss various aspects of their experiences. They deliver lots of excellent insights.

Paintings From the Moon spotlights the art of astronaut Alan Bean. After a seven-minute, 33-second introduction from Bean, we see a 37-minute, 53-second gallery of his work, all accompanied by Bean’s audio commentary.

While I like Bean’s work, his remarks become the main attraction here. He mixes notes about his artistic choices with thoughts about space flight, so anticipate a nice series of notes.

With NASA Audio Highlights, we find a compilation of 21 sound bites that span a total of six minutes, 47 seconds. These provide iconic moments from space flights. While interesting, they could use text to explain their significance and context.

The disc finishes with 3, 2, 1… Blast Off!, a package of launch shots. It goes a mere two minutes, 35 seconds as it displays a series of those elements. It doesn’t do much for me.

The package concludes with a booklet. It mixes art, credits and essays from director Al Reinart and critic Terrence Rafferty. This concludes the set on a positive note.

A look back at first-person footage shot during space missions, For All Mankind becomes a satisfying program. We find lots of excellent material wrapped into a compelling package. The 4K UHD provides generally positive picture and audio as well as a nice array of bonus materials. Expect a high-quality documentary here.

To rate this film, visit the Blu-ray review of FOR ALL MANKIND

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main