From the Earth to the Moon appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Because Moon ran in 1998, it originally appeared via the then-standard 1.33:1 ratio, so the Blu-rays represented an altered aspect ratio.
For the most part, framing seemed fine, and the image occasionally opened up to show additional information at the sides. This occurred mainly during visual effects shots that were newly-done for the high-def version.
Live-action footage also felt adequately framed most of the time, but exceptions occurred. In particular, some close-ups felt awfully tight. Honestly, I don’t like revised aspect ratios and wish Moon stayed 1.33:1, but I can’t object too strongly to the actual reframing on display.
Picture quality turned into a complex issue as well, for the visuals varied due to a number of factors. Most of Moon was shot on 35mm cameras, but some other formats got usage as well, so those elements looked rougher.
Also, while most of the live-action footage got rescanned from the 35mm source, some were “up-rezzed” from the original “finished on video” product. Add to that the mix of new and old visual effects to find a real mix of quality throughout the series.
This meant Moon varied from terrific visuals to ugly images in the blink of an eye. Nonetheless, most of the shows looked very good, so I don’t want to overstate the impact of the less appealing shots.
But I don’t want to lead the potential viewer to think the whole mini-series will look hunky dory, either. In term of sharpness, expect probably 75 percent of the project to look reasonably tight and accurate, with the other 25 percent in varying degrees of softness.
This became the case with jagged edges and shimmering as well. The majority of Moon lacked those concerns, but the up-rezzed shots and old visual effects could suffer from them.
Digital noise and some grain cropped up at times, but source flaws remained minimal. Really, outside of archival footage, I don’t recall any prominent instances of specks, marks or other issues.
Like everything else, colors seemed inconsistent. The mini-series tended to favor a fairly subdued palette, and the hues looked fine for the most part, if not particularly bold. The source led to inevitable degradation at times, though, so expect some shots to suffer from drab tones.
Blacks were mostly deep and dense, while shadows came across with fairly good clarity. Exceptions occurred, of course, but in general, those elements satisfied.
In general, the whole mini-series satisfied, as I really did feel please with most of the presentation. The mix of nagging problems impacted my overall score, though, and left this as a “B-“.
Less equivocal pleasures came from the pretty appealing Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Moon. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix added to the series in a satisfying manner.
Unsurprisingly, more action-oriented scenes fared best, as those that dealt with spacecraft brought involvement to the proceedings. These used the various channels in an active, engrossing manner that contributed to the impact.
Otherwise, the mix tended to be somewhat subdued. Music showed good separation and the track boasted a nice sense of environment, but only the spacecraft and other test vehicle shots really worked well.
Audio quality seemed positive, with speech that appeared natural and concise. The series’ score sounded a bit rinky-dink, but that’s the result of the source, as the synthesizer music never boasted great range.
Effects worked best, with fairly clean highs and some deep lows. I didn’t think the Atmos track rivaled modern productions, but for a reworking of 20-plus-year-old material, it seemed well-done.
Two featurettes appear here, and Behind the Scenes runs 29 minutes, 34 seconds. It brings comments from Walter Cronkite, executive producer/actor Tom Hanks, directors Jon Turteltaub, David Frankel and Lili Fini Zanuck, technical consultant Dave Scott, author Andrew Chaikin, producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Apollo pad leader Guenter Wendt, production designer Richard Toyon, 2nd unit director Michael Grossman, director of photography Gale Tattersall, and actors Cary Elwes, Bryan Cranston, Tony Goldwyn, Elizabeth Perkins, Peter Horton, Dave Foley, Rita Wilson, Tim Daly, Ted Levine, Nick Searcy, Paul McCrane, Mark Harmon, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Frederic Lane, and Chris Isaak.
“Behind” looks at research and realism, story and characters, replicating elements, and some production notes. We get a decent mix of insights, but “Behind” remains relentlessly promotional, so it lacks the depth I’d expect of a moderately long program.
Inside the Remastering Process lasts 11 minutes, nine seconds and offers notes from HBO Studio and Production Services SVP Steve Beres, HBO Post Production SVP Gena Desclos, HBO Technology Producer Rodrigo Ibanez, colorist Jonathan Reid, HBO Manager of Post Production Sounds Glen Schricker and Anibrain Executive Producer Mark DeSouza.
As expected, they tell us about the work that went into bringing the late 1990s mini-series up to snuff for Blu-ray circa 2019. Though some of this seems self-serving, we get some useful technical notes.
As a look at the American space program, From the Earth to the Moon proves to be entertaining but erratic. While I mostly enjoyed the series, it could’ve been more consistent. The Blu-rays offer largely positive picture with very good audio and minor bonus materials. Although I don’t love Moon, it still seems interesting enough to warrant a look.