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Apollo 11 4K Blu-ray Review

A technological marvel

by Simon Crust
SRP: £19.99

Apollo 11 Film Review

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

The first manned mission to the Moon was a technological marvel. The culmination of years of effort by NASA to actually boldly go where no-one has been before – and – bring the crew back is one of the greatest triumphs for the human spirit there is. The story of how this achievement happened has been told many times in both documentary and filmic form, indeed to mark the 50th year anniversary First Man was released, essentially telling this same story, only through the eyes of Neil Armstrong.

I’ll wager, though, that this is a better telling. It uses nothing but archive footage from NASA and newly discovered 65mm documentary film for a failed project as well as 70mm government shot material all of which had laid dormant, but perfectly preserved, unseen and forgotten about for decades. This new material is simply stunning and the way the film has been edited and shown (the screen in its aspects of 2.20:1 sometimes shows multiple sequences of the same event happening from different perspectives) is a cinematic masterpiece.

 A testament to the courage of those three intrepid heroes who were the first to leave the Earth

Newly scored and using the actual sound recordings of those involved from the three astronauts to Houston ground control, the story of how the mission took place from lift off, to landing, to returning is told frankly, energetically and with an eye for the achievement. It is moving and astonishing and is a testament to the courage of those three intrepid heroes who were the first to leave the Earth and land on an extra-terrestrial body. Amazing.

Apollo 11 UHD 4K Blu-ray Picture


Apollo 11 was shot using the best surviving archival footage from NASA, supplemented by newly discovered 65mm footage (from a long-abandoned other film), all of which has been, cleaned, remastered and newly scanned with a 4K DI, utilised for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in a widescreen 2.20:1 aspect ratio, uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Apollo 11 on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

 The space footage and that on the moon is stunning

Hmmmm. Something a bit screwy here, starting with the menu, which is completely overblown as it is in SDR and not HDR. Once playing there is something not quite right.

So, the good, detail is stunning. The newly found 65mm footage is simply breath-taking in its clarity, from the tracks moving the rocket towards the take-off site, to the overview of Cape Kennedy to the images of the rocket itself, sometimes it’s so good it looks like CGI. The TV, space and other archive footage doesn’t fare quite so well, but there is still plenty of detail on show, from computer monitors, writing on papers, creases in clothing, skin texture, it truly is remarkable.

But, and here is where it gets weird, the picture is very hot, so there is a boost of the colours, especially towards the red, bolstered by the WCG and HDR, so when compared to the 1080 image everything just looks ‘in your face’. Now, there are times when this can look amazing – when the rocket lifts off, or the sun sets and even looking over the crowds gathered to see the lift off. Indeed, the space footage and that on the moon is stunning. But other times the colour push is just obvious, even without comparisons.

Blacks are deep and strong, but do, on occasion, crush detail, likewise, the white end, which for the most part is incredible (space suits, shirts of the technicians etc.) but clipping is evident if you look for it. It is as if the HRD10, in trying to compensate for the various different film formats, has blanketed the whole and detrimentally pushed the colours too far. This is a desperate shame.

Digitally, there are no compression issues and the original source is mostly clean, though some occasional damage and gate hairs are visible, but to be expected, and nothing to be worried about. Grain is all present and correct.

Apollo 11 UHD 4K Blu-ray Sound


 The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is surprisingly immersive

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is surprisingly immersive, considering the source. Dialogue, made up of actual recordings of the people involved has been cleaned up, is dominated by the frontal array and always audible. The score gets a high priority in the mix and is where the majority of the surround experience comes from. There are some ambient effects that make use of the surrounds such as crowds cheering. What is very impressive though is the bass, which is awesome; from the tracks moving the rocket at the beginning to the stunning replication of the take off to a chest thumping effect as the rocket separates. There is also a 2.0 stereo track.

Apollo 11 UHD 4K Blu-ray Extras



Apollo 11: Discovering the 65mm – The director talks through his discovery of the film and its condition.
Trans-Earth Injection Cue Walkthrough with Composer Matt Morton – The composer talks us through the making of the track.
Theatrical Trailer
4 Art Cards

Apollo 11 UHD 4K Blu-ray Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Apollo 11 4K Blu-ray Review






 There is no denying the impact that moon landings have had 
 
There is no denying the impact that moon landings have had. It still amazes me the courage those three men had to undertake such a mission, and this story, told by the very people who made it all possible with newly found, and quite stunning, film is something to behold.

The 4K UHD is a bit frustrating, the native 4K image is wonderfully detailed but the HDR is very ‘hot’ in that colours are pushed too far and blacks, whilst deep, do have a tendency to crush. No such issues with the sound, though which is terrific with some thunderous, but controlled bass. Extras are very limited.

Recommended

Scores

Movie

.
9

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
9

Extras

.
.
.
.
.
5

Overall

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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