Moon Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Moon from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment which stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut miner extracting precious Helium 3 from the moon, a resource that promises to reverse Earth’s energy crisis. As he nears the end of his three-year contract, he makes an ominous discovery…

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89

Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classic – 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 97 minutes
Genre: Drama/Sci-fi

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElligott, Kevin Spacey (voice)
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Music by: Clint Mansell
Written by: Nathan Parker (story by Duncan Jones)
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: July 16, 2019

“250,000 Miles from Home, The Hardest Thing to Face is Yourself”

Synopsis:

“Sam Bell is nearing the completion of his 3-year-long contract with Lunar Industries, mining Earth’s primary source of energy on the dark side of the moon. Alone with only the base’s vigilant computer Gerty as his sole companion, Bell’s extended isolation has taken its toll. He longs to return home, but a terrible accident on the lunar surface leads to a disturbing discovery that contributes to his growing sense of paranoia and dislocation so many miles away from home.” – Sony Pictures Classics

My Take:

I reviewed Moon when it released on Blu-ray in 2010 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video, Dolby Atmos mix and new bonus features are contained below.

There are some SPOILERS contained below. To avoid them skip to the third paragraph.

Sam Bell (Rockwell) works in an isolated environment, completely cut off from human contact. His only respite from the tedium and loneliness is the taped messages he receives from his wife and baby daughter and the companionship of Gerty the computer that oversees the operation of Sarang, the moon base that houses the operation. Sam has only a few short weeks left and is looking forward to getting back home to his family. Lately Sam has been having a nagging feeling that something is amiss but, can’t quite put his finger on why. He has inexplicable bouts of de-ja vu and has begun suffering from paranoia, headaches, and flu like symptoms.

While out on a routine repair mission in a lunar rover on the moon’s surface he has a near fatal crash. He wakes up in the infirmary with Gerty looking after him and no recollection of the crash. Sam has been restricted from leaving the base and earth advises that a repair ship, the Eliza, has been dispatched by Lunar Industries to fix a damaged mining vessel on the moon’s surface. Sam’s uneasy feeling returns after he overhears a live communication between Gerty and earth. To that point he had been told that live communication with earth wasn’t possible. With his suspicions aroused he begins to actively pursue the reason for it. He is able to override the system and takes a lunar rover out in an attempt to ascertain why he is unable to send/receive live communications from earth. It is then that he makes a startling discovery that explains everything.

I saw the trailer for Moon a number of months ago and thought it looked interesting. I have liked Sam Rockwell since first seeing him in “The Green Mile” and “Galaxy Quest”. I am a sci-fi fan and this appeared to have intrigue and mystery built around a different type story that looked promising. The plot’s mind-bending aspects and just beneath the surface secret, work extremely well, thanks to the strong performance by Rockwell and, a tightly focused screenplay. Its façade is reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone but, with deliberate pacing that carefully draws upon the human condition as it pertains to the raising of moral and ethical questions.

This is where its strength lies as it doesn’t attempt to over stimulate with effects laden visuals or a multifaceted storyline that ventures off in too many unanswered directions. This is an entertaining, well-conceived and, character driven film that remains simple in aspect yet contemplative in execution. I was delighted that it was everything I hoped it would be and, made for an engaging film that I look forward to revisiting in the near future.

The all-new bonus material for the 4K Ultra HD release of MOON includes a retrospective conversation between Writer/Director Jones and entertainment journalist Joe Utichi, never-before-seen deleted scenes and a gallery of unique and compelling fan art posters, reflecting the film’s passion-driven cult status. Also included are archival special features including two commentaries, Q&As and much more!

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Moon comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Moon recently underwent a 4K re-mastering with the approval of director Duncan Jones and, its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Moon has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This film utilizes a variety of visuals to convey its mood, and thematic tone. The cinematography uses lighting schemes, shadows and low-lit environs, that can sometimes impart a dark visual aesthetic. This is purposeful and comes across in this rendering. Looking at the opening sequence the improvement in depth and definition is noticeable, especially in the finer details visible in Sam’s physical makeup, within the rover and the various shots of the living quarters, Gerty and, the control station within the habitat.

Where applicable, colors are emboldened, appearing deeper and richer when compared to the Blu-ray version. The application of high dynamic range is on point as well. The lighting schemes both inside and outside, including the sun’s rays on the moon’s surface had an added level of pop that stood out nicely against the differing environs.

In terms of resolution Moon isn’t consistently sharp but, this is an innate quality. In general, the image looks very good in this regard, with softening being an element that rarely detracts from the overall visual experience. My initial reaction upon viewing some select scenes left me concerned as the gamma appeared skewed too far toward the bright end of the spectrum. A quick adjustment to my Panasonic player’s HDR setting brought things in line. Those using projectors may have to consider this when viewing especially if using a set up that doesn’t allow for on the fly adjustments to better match the metadata on certain titles. Those viewing via a flat panel will more than likely not have an issue.

I would say that this Ultra HD presentation made for a discernible improvement when compared to the Blu-ray rendering. I believe that what we are seeing is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements, which when all is said and done, is all we can ask for. The question now becomes, is the Ultra HD version worth considering over the Blu-ray? I would say that if you’re a fan and truly want to own Moon in its finest form, the answer is, yes. If you’re satisfied with the Blu-ray version, then you’re good to go.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done quite well, and where applied, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. I noticed that the front overhead channels were used for adding depth to the soundstage while the rear overhead channels contained more discrete sound objects/effects.

In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several sequences that bring everything together. The moon rover crash in the opening act and the final moments are perfect examples. In between there are lots of atmospheric enhancements that broaden the soundstage. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Moon Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Moon Blu-ray
    All-New Special Features on 4K Ultra HD:
  • All-New Retrospective Conversation with Duncan Jones and Journalist Joe Utichi
  • Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
  • Fan Art Poster Gallery
    Legacy Bonus Features on Blu-ray:
    o Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery, and Production Designer Tony Noble
    o Whistle Short Film by Duncan Jones
    o The Making of Moon
    o Creating the Visual Effects
    o Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones
    o Filmmaker’s Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival
    o Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Moon is a wonderfully engaging as it eschews the large-scale special effects and varied themes associated with many of today’s genre films and harkens back to classic sci-fi cinema by enticing us with a rewarding and intelligently crafted narrative that examines the human condition. It works on a number of levels thanks to writer/director Duncan Jones’ insightful and staunch direction and the superb performance by Sam Rockwell. It’s making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that features beautifully restored video, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and new and legacy bonus content. If you’re a fan, and the improvements in video quality, and immersive sound are important to you, this is a must have addition to your Blu-ray collection.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems