Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Island Earth!

This 1955 epic is a real entertainer. The colors are bright and inviting, the characters are vivid and lively, and the plot is slick and moves at a pretty neat clip. The story is as hare brained as it's possible to be, but the momentum keeps you from questioning too much what's going on.

The story begins nicely with the introduction of Cal Meacham, a handsome scientist and fancy jet pilot played by the booming-voiced Rex Reason. His jet is saved by a mysterious green ray and almost immediately he and his scientist buddy find themselves confronted with the mystery of Unit 16, a secret bunch of tech suppliers who seem to have unworldly stuff. Meacham builds an "Interositer", an all purpose communication device which puts him in contact with the big-brained Exeter played by Jeff Morrow. Next thing we know he's on a mysterious auto-piloted plane and landing in Georgia in a big house full of scientist big brains and Faith Domergue who plays Dr.Ruth Adams. They end up discovering they are working on atomic power secrets for aliens who then tear up stakes and destroy the lot of them save for Meacham and Adams who get hauled through space to Metaluna, a planet under constant attack. There things get screwier and screwier as Metalunans and Mutants alike try to make their lives even more miserable.

The story clearly wants to be taken seriously, but can't really in the end. The aliens seem to want to invade Earth. If that's the case then what they're doing with the scientists seems pointless. They seem to be just doing things to justify a movement in the plot and that hurts the ability of the viewer to invest. It just never makes sense in that kind of way.

Exeter is an alien who seems sympathetic to humans but it's unclear why that is. Most Metalunans seem to be cold and so what happens to them doesn't matter much, at least emotionally. The humans too seem somehow distant and it limits the ability of the audience to invest and really care. Even the obligatory monster, the Metalunan Mutant is introduced in the final reel and seems a meager threat to everyone involved.

This is a great movie to have fun with, but as thought-provoking sci-fi it falls a bit short. It's a dandy romp though and very much recommended.

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  1. Another one I have only seen through the MST lens! I remember some flak around the fact it was not a "bad" movie in the same sense as others the show lampooned.

    That being said, I quote from the "real" parts of the movie in class a whole lot!!

  2. I remember seeing this movie really late one summer night on some cable station. It was one of the stations with no commercials so I never figured out what the name of it was, but I thought it was great.

    Then it was years later that I realized MST3K had made this the film in there big "MST3K the Movie." I liked there version too it was a lot of fun, but this definitely isn't a horrible movie. It's a B movie that's kind of silly but one that has some heart.

  3. I find I like the really nerdy parts in the beginning before the spaceship actually appears. The mystery is decent enough, but the payoff is a bit weak.

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