A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
I have seen quite a few trashy sci-fi's from the 1950's because I rather enjoy their b-movie qualities but this is far from being a genre film because it stands out from the usual sci-fi's that act as an allegory for communism (whether deliberate or in hindsight) because this film is very intelligent although I assume it was based on the fears of the period as well, or at least I'd like to think so. Certainly, at a time when nuclear war and technology was risking the Earth, it seems only fitting that the film send a message about the destructive power of technology that the Krell were not ready to use. The script is quite intelligent even if the plot has plenty of holes in it if you're looking for them. The idea of a destructive power within the subconscious is interesting and well delivered and it is certainly a lot more thought provoking than many other sci-fi's of the period. It also has a good mix of comedy in the form of the cook and, surprisingly, Robby the Robot (one of the most famous robots in cinema history) but mainly the film succeeds because of the interesting concept and good delivery.
It's not all perfect of course and some of the plot holes are a bit of a pain if you really want to pick at them and also the need for a 'happy' ending spoils what should have been a much darker conclusion I don't understand why the script spent so much time warning only to offer an optimistic view of the self same things that it had warned against. However, it doesn't overdo this aspect and it still works well enough
The cast are roundly solid even if some of the performances are a little bit stiff and just what you'd expect from the genre. Certainly these actors are not as adept at interacting with special effects as those working with green screen lots are they generally look clunky when they are firing lasers or interacting with the beast. It's hard to watch Nielsen in straight roles now that I've grown up with him in his Police Squad style material but he is good enough for his material here even if he is a little bit wooden at times. Pidgeon is also a bit wooden but it fits his character and the genre and his performance is good. Anne Francis is a little off but she is a little minx and she serves her purpose on the whole. I appear to be one of the few viewers who liked Holliman's work as the comic relief cook but I must admit to finding the rest of the crew (including Kelly and Stevens) to be quite workmanlike even if they weren't 'bad' per se.
Overall this is a great piece of sci-fi that has stood up really well over the past 50 or so years. The film may look rather quaint by today's standards but it is intelligent, funny and thought provoking true, it's not really high art but it is certainly heads and shoulders above the standards set by the rest of the genre. Not as spectacular or as action-based as many of our modern sci-fi's but it just has different qualities and is a great film that I'm surprised is not more highly considered or even mentioned on the IMDb top 250!
- bob the moo
- Jul 10, 2004