There’s magic on the moon; most critics are enchanted by David Sington‘s doc about the moon missions, "In the Shadow of the Moon," which includes previously unseen footage from space. Watching it, Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman finds himself transported by "a feeling that came as a shock: not just the usual admiration and ooh-and-ah wonder, but a bedrock nostalgia for an age when technology could seem innocent â€” when it was infused, on a mass scale, with mystical humanist longing." At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir notes the "heart-stoppingly beautiful footage," but prefers the astronaut interviews:
It’s a fascinating excursion into the minds of a group of well-educated but necessarily pragmatic men who have shared an extraordinary, and literally transcendent, experience. [Buzz] Aldrin, an aeronautics wonk whose principal mission concerns were questions of orbit and trajectory, says that when he was on the moon, looking back at Earth, he observed that science and technology had gotten him there, but were utterly inadequate to what he was thinking and feeling.
Jim Ridley at the Village Voice sees the film as a "well-timed corrective," as well as "pick-me-up": "Here’s every nation on earthâ€”even the pouting Sovietsâ€”fixed on the comet of can-do U.S. optimism streaking into the stars. Even the French loved us then. In the Shadow of the Moon recalls the wondrous moment when America had the entire world looking up, up, and not away." At the New York Times, Stephen Holden echoes this sentiment, calling the film "a morale booster": "The power of its archival images hasnâ€™t diminished with familiarity. There is Earth, spinning in space, a blue and green paradise ringed with clouds. And there is the moonâ€™s surface, up close and forbidding, with shadowy craters like pockmarks: a place of absolute desolation. Yes, we did it." He does acknowledge the gap left by the reclusive Neil Armstrong, who chooses not to participate in the film.
Less won over are Nick Schager at Slant, who likes the film well enough but notes the way "Sington lazily tacks on a message about our environment to the end of the film," and Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club, who calls "In the Shadow of the Moon" "a modest, thoroughly conventional look at the Apollo program… it’s nothing more ambitious than a cable-ready rehash of NASA history."