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|Index||103 reviews in total|
Pulp science fiction created an aura of awe and excitement that is
rarely equaled in these current days of sci-fi movie "actioners". Gone
are the opportunities to see alien species and their homelands depicted
in "wonderous Technicolor". Instead, we are routinely preached to by
screenwriters determined to warn us, ad nauseum, of man's follies and
the impending disasters always depicted as a forgone result. Yes, now
we get chiseled heroes, and heroines, too, who are usually engaged in
single-handedly shooting up the screen with loud twentieth
century-derived weapons. Where is the fun in these stereotypical,
"This Island Earth"("TIE") with (for its time, remember)jaw-dropping visuals, big, truly alien world realizations and theme of inter-solar system war, hasn't been matched since its debut almost fifty years ago! For a plot that catapults you half way around the universe with one beautifully realized set after another and an epic-sized stage on which to play out its themes, perhaps only "Forbidden Planet" ever matched up.
The sounds, the visuals and the story line of "TIE" weren't intended to chastise you as a stupid earthling, but instead, have long served to take the willing on an adventure ride that all too few space movies have chosen to create. Until Hollywood chooses to really explore the universe you ought to have your own copy of "This Island Earth", in order to frequently remind yourself of what we should all be seeing much more often: space movies that enthrall!
I first saw this movie when it was released in 1954. I was about six. I
didn't see it again until @1967/1968, as a theatrical re-release. The
big screen did help, but this second viewing, and subsequent viewings
on video (I own it), show that it wasn't as perfect as my youthful eyes
saw it to be. However, I still consider it a great show. It has the
same basic plot of world domination by aliens that other movies of its
day had, but, it is so different in it's approach, feel, and delivery,
it just never seemed like the same plot to me.
It was also a rare Sci-Fi motion picture. It was filmed in color. Of the eleven horror/sci-fi movies of 1954 (and this list might not be exactly complete), only three were in color. Riders To The Stars (1954), Phantom Of The Rue Morgue (1954), and This Island Earth (four if you put 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) into this group). The remainder of the list range from the cheap quickie to the higher budgeted movie that had some effort put into them. The list is: Devil Girl From Mars (1954), Creature From Black Lagoon (1954), Killers From Space (1954), Godzilla (1954) [this is the Japanese release], Monster From The Ocean Floor (1954), Stranger From Venus (1954), Them! (1954), and Tobar The Great (1954). These black and white shows did have merit in their own way. And, they did what they were made for, to entertain a crowd of kids (and some adults). Almost everyone appreciates color more than black and white, and for a "Kid's" Science Fiction movie to be in color, it made This Island Earth all the more special.
Of course, the special effects, acting, and other aspects of this movie don't match up to today's standards. If it did, it would mean that there had been no advancements in over 40 years. For its day, the special effects are extremely well done. The sets were impressive. The script was intellectual without going leaps and bounds about the child viewer's head. The Mutant really wasn't as good as I remembered, but it was still impressive. Bud Westmore was the master of his day. He, Jack Pierce, and other makeup masters of the past, created the foundation for today's highly imaginative work.
Just think, future generations probably will give negative reviews of Stars Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T. and many of the other groundbreaking movies of our time. They will probably laugh at the "poor" quality of the special effects, or the stilted dialogue and acting just as some of the younger audience does today.
I agree with other writers that point out how much people miss by not watching a black and white, or even just not watching an older movie. They don't come across as hip, realistic, terrifing, or as erotic as today's fare, but, if you really look at these shows, you will find the cornerstone of today's movies created by that moldy oldy from 40, 50, 60, or even 70 years ago.
Guess I'll have to watch MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE to find out
what is so bad about THIS ISLAND EARTH. The film is intriguingly plotted,
beautifully photographed, and has excellent (even by contemporary standards)
art direction, costume design and special effects.
So what if Rex Reason sounds as if he was dubbed (he always sounds that
way), and some of the other performances seem a bit stilted. The Metaluna
Mutant was the most memorable outer space monster until ALIEN.
I can only recall one technical error in the film. After the interociter (communicator) has been reduced to molten metal, Rex Reason picks up a Geiger counter and says, "It's no longer radioactive." There IS no set up for this (i.e., when it proved to be radioactive).
I'd certainly rate this film in the top ten of the best science fiction films of the fifties (probably in the top five). It's philosophical, exciting and well made.
Boy I never imagined I would be in the minority of those who thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi effort. Sure,it doesn't have the greatest visual effects,but I always thought it was creative with what it had. The film was made quite a long time ago and I respect the makers for trying to create an imaginative little exercise in the vast genre of science fiction. It does have pretty good acting though the aliens are stiff,but were they meant to be lively? The film isn't poetry,but I love these type of cheesy sci-fi films and think this one is an A-class B-picture. ****/*****
This is a great treat from a wonderful era of Sci-Fi. Those who complain of the hardware aspects have no romance - an Earth scientist receives an unsolicited manual and roomful of parts to build a futuristic two-way TV, but the parts are a marvel and the pages of the manual aren't paper, but some manner of flexible metal. After constructing the "Interociter", our hero receives a broadcast from Exeter, a fellow scientist with a suspiciously prominent forehead, inviting him to join his research team of the world's greatest experts in their fields. What follows is a comic book come-to-life, and in vivid, 3-part Technicolor! This film is beautiful to look at, and apparently many of today's best Sci-Fi filmmakers did. Rex Reason is fine as our hero, Jeff Morrow is one of the most memorable aliens of the era, and Faith Domergue is a fine actress and is mysteriously one of the most unsung beauties ever. And as to the hardware, the special effects, etc - there is actually nothing to complain about at all...the spaceship, the planet Metaluna, aliens, etc, are not merely passable for the 50's, they are compelling by today's standards. If you have just a bit of imagination, this is one of the best Sci-Fi classics of it's time, and still makes many contemporary efforts pale in comparison.
"This Island Earth" is not the greatest science fiction movie of all time,
but it deserves more respect than it is often granted. The boys at MST3K
(whom I think are great) may have done this film a great disservice. In its
day, it was thoughtful, imaginative, and the special effects were
excellent. I disagree with those who say there is no plot. The cold war
fears and xenophobia were once again at the center of this fifties effort.
The alien as our "friend" was later used in many settings, including one of
the best of the "Twilight Zone" episodes, "To Serve Man."
I was young when I first saw this in a movie theater, but even then I found the home planet, Metaluma, very striking and its fate frightening. I fear that often our smugness in criticizing older films, judging them by standards that they could not have hoped to approach because of the limitations of the technology, keeps us from acceptance of their good points and their contributions. I have an acquaintance who can't watch the Maltese Falcon because it is in black and white. What a loss. The sets are striking in this film. The aliens are a bit of a stretch, but I still like what they are. I saw this movie a couple times in a theatre (not the MST version). As people left they were captivated and involved. When we left, we had had fun (not from ridiculing but enjoying). Granted there are no computer morphs and no giant metal bugs sucking brains out, but it is still good stuff.
The 1955 sci-fi film, "This Island Earth" was spoofed in the film,"MST 3000: The Movie"; but in actuality the film got good reviews from Leonard Maltin, The Motion Picture Guide, not to mention Bill Warren's monumental opus, "Keep Watching The Skies!". The acting in this film is not exceptional, but not dismal, I would say adequate. My favorite character is the Metalunan, Exeter - this dude is one smooth talker, oozing a sinister coolness, while displaying a funky appearance: neatly coiffured white hair, bushy eyebrows, a high indented forehead, coppertone tan and dressed in a conventional Earthian suit and tie (he would have made a great politician or televangelist!). His assistant, Braack, is a carbon copy, as are the other Metalunans. There is an atmosphere of suspense and intrigue and the plot is credible enough. One the technical side, a Metalunan communication device called an Interociter remains a centerpiece throughout the film; it is very versatile, able to incorporate an Interplanetary Generator, Volterator, Astroscope, Electron Sorter, and a deadly Neutrino Ray (all of these are not in the script, rather I got them from the Raymond F. Jones story the film is based upon; however, the Neutrino Ray was demonstrated by Exeter to Dr. Cal Meacham on occasion); Meacham pulled the plug on one of them in his lab, causing it to self-destruct; leading one to wonder if that device were so advanced, then why didn't it have a backup internal power source and safety feature to prevent that sort of sabotage? Moreover, why did it have to rely on an external power supply at all?' The highlight of the film is the voyage back to Metaluna with Drs Meacham and Adams on board; the distant planet is being attacked by enemy Zahgon guided meteors. The Drs were recruited to help the Metalunans rebuild their war depleted uranium supply which sustained their protective atomic force shield- the Earth is rich in uranium supply. The Metalunan spacecraft looks like a cheap, plastic toy pulled from a crackerjack box, but as it cruises through the "thermal barrier", the fiery special effects around the craft look way cool. And the special effects, set design and artwork of the war-ravaged planet and the ongoing battle there are simply excellent for that time period. In addition, the Herman Stein musical score is a tasty delight- the organ parts are simply an ear to behold! No, "This Island Earth" does not have the Oscar-Winning effects of "The War Of The Worlds", the snappy, overlapping dialogue of "The Thing From Another World", the abundant richness of ideas of "Forbidden Planet", nor the spine chilling suspense of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers"; but what it does have is an irresistable charm, the result - I suspect - of having a peculiar combination of outstanding qualities coexisting alongside of much inferior ones. "This Island Earth" should definitely be part of every 50's sci-fi film connoisseur's collection.
When it came out, I thought this was the most fantastic movie I'd ever seen. It was easy to identify with the lead character and to share his fascination with the technology that the aliens used to capture his attention and recruit his talents. I particularly remember being entranced by the special effects; the use of vivid color was outstanding among sci-fi offerings of the time. 45 years later, it's still my favorite of the era. I enjoy watching the movie on video and recalling the thrill of seeing it on the big screen for the first time.
This was the Star Wars of the 1950's. What movie are these people watching when they say there is no story? This is great escapist fun, filled with flying saucers, aliens, monsters and explosions! Some movies are just meant to be viewed *surprise* as entertainment! Kick back, turn off your brain, relax and watch a fun movie and be entertained by the lumbering bug eyed monsters! Sure, Rex Reason (cool name) is a walking totem pole, and Faith sure does scream a lot, but that's what women did in the 50's when they were being carried away by a scary monster. The effects are pretty good for its time, and the whole picture is a great time capsule about where we were mid-century when space was unexplored, and the flying saucer craze was still going on.
I saw this film for the first time when I was about 10 years old and it has always stuck with me and when I saw it was on video I bought it immediately. I think that this is more than a B picture and what people have to remember is the fact that this film was made before all the great advances in special effects. Another thing that made it interesting was the fact that through the first half of the film you really didn't know if Exeter was human or alien. It wasn't until the second half of the film that we did see there was more to this mysterious group. This film is definitely an underrated classic of its era.
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