Set just after the American civil war, businessman and inventor Victor Barbicane invents a new source of power called Power X. He plans to use it to power rockets, and to show its potential... See full summary »
Set just after the American civil war, businessman and inventor Victor Barbicane invents a new source of power called Power X. He plans to use it to power rockets, and to show its potential he plans to send a projectile to the moon. Joining him for the trip are his assistant Ben Sharpe, Barbicane's arch-rival Stuyvesant Nicholl, and Nicholl's daughter Virginia. Nicholl believes that Power X goes against the will of God and sabotages the projectile so that they cannot return to earth, setting up a suspenseful finale as they battle to repair the projectile. Written by
This went into production as RKO was preparing to shut down. It was believed to have had a much larger budget which was later cut. This greatly affected the quality of the special effects. See more »
The three Power X flares Barbicane flashes to signal Ben and Virginia that he and Nicholl are alive on the Moon are clearly spaced too far apart on the surface of the Moon for him to have been able to travel the distances involved (as he had no means of transport at his disposal other than by foot). See more »
If you have a lifetime goal of viewing every sci-fi film ever made, then watch this movie -- if you can -- once, just so you can say you've seen it. But if you don't have this kind of masochistic streak, change the channel or go do something more interesting, like watching paint dry.
Despite the presence of undeniable talents like George Sanders and Joseph Cotton, everything about this movie is lackluster; the script manages to jettison every last bit of charm in Jules Verne's original story, including his broadly satirical take on post-Civil-War America and its industrial magnates. Besides the tepid romantic interest, in an attempt to be more contemporary the filmmakers added another plot element in the guise of a super-explosive called "Power X", and then proceed to beat you over the head with the obvious parallels to atomic power and nuclear weapons. Yawn.
While the sets don't achieve the stark cheesiness of, say, a "Queen Of Outer Space", they're not that great, either. There's even an fx shot in which you can clearly see the armature attached to the model projectile. (Shades of "Robot Monster" although at least there's no hand in the frame, too.)
They also have these mildly interesting (but ultimately silly) props called "acceleration tubes" which -- besides looking extremely uncomfortable for the actors -- are supposed to protect them against the terrific g-force of being shot out of an enormous cannon. (I think the tubes are a sort of lame homage to the deceleration sequence in "Forbidden Planet".) But then Nichol's daughter stows away simply by hiding in a space suit hanging from a rack. That is, she endures the launch standing up and suffers no ill effects. So why did they need the tubes in the first place?
I guess she was made of sterner stuff.
Since the producers were also apparently too cheap to spring for the wire work involved in simulating the effects of free-fall, they turn Verne's cannon shell into a rocket ship with a constant 1-G acceleration. But if they had rocket engines that efficient, why bother with the cannon?
I know the last place you're likely to encounter accurate science is in a science-fiction film, but still ...
To me, though, the worst offense this movie commits is its appropriation of Louis and Bebe Barron's electronic "tonalities" from "Forbidden Planet" as sound effects for the spaceship. Far from lending a touch of borrowed class, they're simply jarring. More than anything else, it throws the sloppiness, the utter shabbiness of this awful film into sharp relief.
Even the similarly cheapjack "Master Of The World" -- the last gasp of the Verne cycle that began in the 1950s -- is far more entertaining than this gobbler.
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