Under the ever-present menace of the Enemies of America getting there first, a group of industrialists band together to design and build a rocketship capable of traveling to the Moon and back. When legal pressures are brought to bear on the project, the lead industrialist defiantly launches without permission; the three heads of the project and one wisecracking guy from Brooklyn make it to the Moon, but then discover that they don't have enough fuel to make it back...
Based on Robert A. Heinlein's novel Rocketship Galileo, Destination Moon has long been lauded for its scientific accuracy - in fact, the science was considered so heady in 1950 that a Woody Woodpecker cartoon is embedded in the story to educate the common man. It's this adherence to established physics that works against the picture in the modern day - all the gosh-gee-whiz stuff is common knowledge among schoolchildren and those who grew up watching shuttle astronauts swimming about in zero-G (or others, like myself, who actually chewed their fingernails through the Apollo 11 mission) - it's hard to get worked up, here in the year 2000. But the basic scientific tenets still hold, even after a half a century... and that counts for something.
The story is good stuff, however, pure Grand Old Days Pulp, and still manages to create tension more than once. The spate of sci-fi films that followed are almost all variations on Destination Moon's theme, adding monsters, beautiful babes, or various sinister aliens. If one requires these in their sci-fi, then one should look elsewhere; therefore, I can only recommend Destination Moon to SF purists and historians - it may be a tad too dry for anyone else.
Read the full review at The Bad Movie Report.
First of all, am I the only one that really misses the old Image intro? You know, the one with the laser beam striking the spinning disc and the bombastic music that worked all your speakers? The one that gave me a chance to adjust the volume before the movie started? I mean, the new one is all shadowy and artsy and twenty-first century and stuff, but it's also silent, and I find myself wondering if I remembered to switch from Video 1 to Video 2 on my receiver.
Where was I? Oh, yes. As a member of the Wade Williams Collection, the print used for this transfer was doubtless the best available. Which is to say that it's not flawless, but it is *very* good. Unlike a lot of its progeny, Destination Moon was shot in Technicolor, and the print's colors are quite tasty, especially those color-coded space suits. The image itself is sharp, but there's a lot of wear, speckling and lining that gets quite heavy at times - but there was never a bad splice or missing footage. Usually a print bearing this sort of damage also suffers a loss of audio quality, but the sound is never less than bell-clear. This leads me to suspect that separate sound elements were used, and bravo to the Wade Williams Co. for taking that much care with a movie of historical - but not especially commercial - appeal.
There's a theatrical trailer ("Never Before Has Any Woman! Sent Her Man On Such An Exploit!"). And an interactive menu, which at least has clever graphics. Enjoy.
Dr. Freex, 8/9/00