Pssst, want to check out Apollo 11 in our new look?
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Just to get this out of the way: the space and moon stuff is obviously some of the most important footage ever captured by man. Even in its grainy, low-fi form they're some of the most iconic, historic images we'll ever see. It's well edited together here, with smart decisions like allowing the actual landing play out in a single, one-angle shot.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the real good stuff: the ground footage
It's strange to come out of a documentary about humanity's most significant space achievement and just want to rave about the footage shot on Earth. But it's that good. It's a miracle of 70mm cinematography and a triumph of restoration. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say you could mistake it for having been shot yesterday, and if it was shot yesterday it'd still be goddamn breathtaking. Edited together, it's great immersive cinema - capturing the mood and images of an historic couple of days with a clarity that one wouldn't have thought possible.
As a documentarian, Todd Douglas Miller doesn't have to do a whole lot, and he mercifully and wisely completely cuts out unnecessary crap like talking heads or excess interjections (the odd lo-tech graphical insert is all you really get in that sense, and a smartly brief background montage on the astronauts). This is just the footage, presented in the straightforward, undiluted way it deserves (a little bit of 'woo America!' stuff aside, but not as grating as it could've been). Split-screen is used wisely. The sound design is seat rockingly good, although the music drifts between fitting and overwrought. But really you're here for that ludicrous, luscious image clarity - and it delivers superbly.
I made the rare decision to splash out on the Cineworld IMAX, knowingly full well it's not proper IMAX. But this is perhaps the only time I'll ever recommend this: you should consider it too if you at all can, as this truly is a rare case of bigger and louder is better. While I'm still a cinema disciple, I'm equally aware saying things like 'you have to see it in a cinema!' runs the very real risk of being elitist - not everyone likes or has easy access to a good cinema. So I don't say this lightly: if you can see it in a cinema, it's really the only way to see it. This film's very particular power is seeing familiar and iconic imagery displaying on a massive screen, while the sound shakes the seats. That's what this film has to offer above the plethora of other documentaries and films that recount this particular piece of history, so if you at all can do consider getting out there
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!