Flight to Mars (1951)

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Released 12-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer-Flight to Mars
Trailer-Compilation
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1951
Running Time 78:19 (Case: 71)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Leslie Selande
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Arthur Franz
Marguerite Chapman
Cameron Mitchell
Virginia Huston
Morris Ankrum
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits at start of presentation

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    When I first heard the news that a group of old classics were being put together as The Retro Sci-Fi Collection I was ecstatic. I was starting to think that we would never see these gems on our favourite shiny platform, and that I might actually have to dust off the old VCR to play them.

    Project Moonbase was the first from the collection that I had the pleasure of reviewing. Flight To Mars had the added bonus of being in colour, but both were enjoyable and at times humorous, due in no small part to the 1950s concepts of space and life on other planets.

    Flight To Mars was filmed in 1951 and, as the movie's title states, centres around man's first flight to the planet Mars. The entire mission was kept from the general public in its early stages, and it caused a lot of concern when the U.S. Military released a world wide press release informing the general public of a propelled flight of such magnitude.

    A team of the best scientists from the United States including the Chief Engineer and pilot Jim Baker (Arthur Franz), Professor Jackson (Richard Gaines) and Doctor Lain (John Litel) were put together for this mission, along with military reporter Steve Abbot (Cameron Mitchell), whose task it was to take photos and record observations. In order to keep the military command back on Earth informed of the mission's progress, the plan was to send self-propelled cylinders back to Earth with updates at regular intervals.

    Along the way, the ship passes through an asteroid shower which threatens to tear their vessel apart. They decide to blast the rocket to move them out of the path of the rubble, but a lot of damage has already been done. The crew can either return to Earth or continue on to Mars to make repairs, but they face the possibility that they may never return.

    They decide to take the risk and progress on to Mars, where they find intelligent life that is happy to help them make any necessary repairs to the ship. It soon becomes obvious, however, that the Martians, led by President Ikron, do not intend to let the humans ever return to Earth. Will they escape?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is what you would expect for a movie of this age.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is rather soft, no doubt due to the original film stock. Shadow detail is extremely poor in areas of low light and at times like at 3:02 and 9:29 to 9:56, most of the screen is very dark. In fact, the entire film is plagued with lighting that went from acceptable to almost pitch black from scene to scene. This is not due to the transfer, however, as the same issue affects other formats that I have seen this movie on, and is no doubt a problem with the source. There is little low level noise.

    The colour when not suffering from poor shadow detail do seem to contain an overabundance of red. There was one section at 10:00 where green was the predominant shade. According to the distributors, these tints were apparent in the source material as well.

    There were MPEG artefacts to be seen, and at 38:05 and 49:00 they were quite noticeable and distracting. Other areas were not as bad and did not spoil my viewing. Aliasing is quite rare and not distracting when it does appear. Naturally, there are a lot of film artefacts throughout the entire movie, no doubt due to the age of the original film stock. There was what appeared to be a large hair in the frame that appeared at 38:34 and lasted until 39:00 and at times I watched it bounce around rather than watching the actors. The transfer contains reel change markings which were first noticed relatively early on at 12:42 and reappeared roughly every 20 minutes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is nominally in English Dolby Digital 2.0, but is mono.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. There was some very mild hiss apparent during some of the dialogue.

    Audio sync was a problem early on and got progressively better as the movie went on.

    The music was typical of the era and style of movie. After all, this is half the appeal of these old classics! The volume mix did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The surround and subwoofer channels were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The extras consist of trailers from more classics of this genre and era.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1:33.1, we have a picture of a drive-in theatre with the trailers and menu choices shown as a projection on the drive-in's screen. It is quite neat and works well.

Theatrical Trailer (2:00)

    The Flight To Mars trailer is shown with the same aspect ratio and sound quality as the main feature. The video quality is comparable to the main presentation.

Theatrical Trailers (8:58)

    A wide selection of trailers are present and worth a look. The trailers appear in the following order;

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    This would make the Region 4 release the winner by a nose.

Summary

    Flight To Mars will appeal to lovers of the old sci-fi classics. If you have a copy on video, then there is no compelling reason not to upgrade your library to the DVD version.

    The quality of this transfer caused no major problems and was obviously handled with care. It's just unfortunate that the original film stock was marked so much.

    The audio quality is what you would expect from a movie of this age.

    The extras provide a teaser for other movies that I hope will some day be transferred as well.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer XV-DV55, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer XV-DV55
SpeakersPioneer S-DV55ST-K Satellite wall mouted 5-Speaker System; Pioneer S-DV55SW-K Powered Subwoofer

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