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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » To the Galaxy and Beyond
To the Galaxy and Beyond
Image // Unrated // September 21, 2004
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Blair | posted November 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie



To follow the history of science fiction movies is really to
follow the evolution of the motion picture industry, because
without science fiction, modern day movies wouldn't be what they
are today.



Since the dawn of cinema entertainment, sci-fi has always been
there hiding in the shadows, as well as billowing at the
forefront, constantly influencing, guiding, and pushing the
industry to advance its methods and expand on the great art of
visual storytelling. It's been there to entertain theories of the
future, to send people cowering behind their hands, and serve as
a warning beacon of an unwelcome future if precautions are not
taken. It has been used as a propaganda tool to enforce political
and social views, and it can be looked back upon as a guide to
understanding the past state of American interests and ideals.
Sci-fi movies are as much a part of American history as they are
of movie-making history.



To The Galaxy And Beyond with Mark Hamill, is a
97-mintue documentary exploring the rich and often forgotten
history of science fiction movies. Host Mark Hamill takes us back
to the very beginning to see groundbreaking films such as A
Trip To The Moon
(1902), regarded as the very first science
fiction film, and Frankenstein (1910), which was
produced by Thomas Edison. From here we're taken on a brief but
informative tour pointing out some of the most influential sci-fi
movies ever made, such as Metropolis (1927), the most
important sci-fi film in the silent era, King Kong
(1933), Dr. Cyclops (1940), as well as the plethora of
"B" sci-fi/horror movies of the 1940's. In 1950, Destination
Moon
tried to take a factual approach to science fiction,
and in the process redefined the science fiction genre. In 1951, The
Day The Earth Stood Still
took a new direction to science
fiction by offering optimism, yet adding a warning that Earth's
present war-torn obsession would eventually destroy the human
race.



But despite the surplus of inventive movies to debut throughout
the 50's and 60's, the most revolutionary movie that forever
changed the way science fiction would be brought to the big
screen was Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. And
it would be another 11 years before a new king would emerge as
the next big thing in science fiction. In 1977, George Lucas's Star
Wars
took the world by storm by combining old fashion
heroism with campy Flash Gordon-style ideals to create
an entertainment juggernaut that invigorated the imagination of
children and adults around the world. Even today Lucas's epic
space opera is considered by many to be the most revolutionary
step in the art of motion picture storytelling.



To The Galaxy And Beyond goes on to show even more
examples of significant sci-fi films that graced the silver
screen up till 1997. Movies such as Close Encounters of the
Third Kind, Star Trek, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Alien,
Jurassic Park, Aliens, The Abyss, and Independence Day.




To The Galaxy And Beyond is a fun and informative
glimpse into the history of science fiction movies. And with none
other than Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) himself narrating the
documentary, the entire feature radiates a sense of legitimacy
that could have been lost with a less apt host. But despite the
fantastic-looking early footage of old sci-fi movies, the
documentary was sorely deprived of something important; more
in-depth actor and director interviews. Granted, interesting
interviews were included, but more should have been
added to offer a more intricate and personal perspective of the
classics featured. For instance, it would have been nice to hear
some explanation on how the early pioneers pulled off their (at
the time) state of the art special effects. And for the newer
movies, it's a shame that the modern day directors didn't give
much insight as to the importance and influence of the earlier
movies responsible for the sci-fi movement.



But anyone who loves science fiction yet has little knowledge of
the old school movies that started it all, will most likely enjoy
this DVD. It's fast paced, and covers nearly a century's worth of
science fiction films. Even those who are savvy to the movies of
old might take pleasure in the wonderful-looking clips of films
they thought they'd never see on DVD.



The DVD



Video:

Galaxy and Beyond is presented in 1.33:1 full screen. As
this was never a feature length film and included almost two
hours of random footage from various sources, my expectations
were not high for the overall look of this DVD. However, I was
surprised to see Galaxy and Beyond had a very clean
picture throughout the entire feature, even during scenes of the
absolute earliest sci-fi movies in existence. Edge enhancement
was not bothersome, and examples of pixelation were never
overwhelming. The picture still lacked the crispness of newer
feature film DVD's, but considering the multitude of material
assembled for this DVD, the outcome exceeded my expectations.



Audio:

Galaxy and Beyond only comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0
Surround audio track, but the result was pleasing. Dialogue is
easy to hear, and the special effects of the early sci-fi
classics have never sounded better. The feature has a nice stereo
sound, with good separation between the front three speakers. As
this is a documentary, sound is not so critical, but much like
the video transfer, the DVD's audio quality slightly exceeded my
expectations.



Extras:

Included are more than two-dozen theatrical trailers for some of
the most significant sci-fi movies of all time. This is a
wonderful addition, and any sci-fi aficionado will get a kick out
of seeing these trailers. However it seems that more could have
been added, especially from the older films.



The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) - Trailer A

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) - Trailer B

The Fly (1958)

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1961)

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - Teaser

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - Release Trailer

Planet Of The Apes (1968) - Teaser Trailer #1

Planet Of The Apes (1968) - Teaser Trailer #2

Planet Of The Apes (1968) - Release Trailer #1

Planet Of The Apes (1968) - Release Trailer #2

Zardoz (1974)

Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars (1978)

Alien (1978) Teaser Trailer #1

Alien (1979) Teaser Trailer #2

Alien (1979) Release Trailer

Aliens (1986) Teaser Trailer

Aliens (1986) Release Trailer #1

Aliens (1986) Teaser Trailer

Aliens (1986) Release Trailer #2

Aliens (1986) International Trailer

The Fly (1986)

Predator (1987)

The Abyss (1989)

Independence Day (1996) Trailer A

Independence Day (1996) Trailer B

Independence Day (1996) Trailer C



Final Thoughts:

To The Galaxy And Beyond is an interesting yet brief
look at the history of science fiction movies. It's fast paced -
never spending too much time on any particular movie - and covers
the most influential sci-fi films of the 20th century. Sci-fi
fanatics will want to pick this up, while more causal fans may be
content with renting, since a single viewing may be enough to
satisfy your curiosity. Recommended.





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