As our world suffers the ravages of humankind, scientists look for ways to sustain life. When one of them falls ill and a chrysalis forms around him, a tug of war ensues about the future of ... Read allAs our world suffers the ravages of humankind, scientists look for ways to sustain life. When one of them falls ill and a chrysalis forms around him, a tug of war ensues about the future of the stricken scientist.As our world suffers the ravages of humankind, scientists look for ways to sustain life. When one of them falls ill and a chrysalis forms around him, a tug of war ensues about the future of the stricken scientist.
If you have a chance to see this on DVD, please watch the film FIRST, then watch the extras (mini-featurettes on various aspects of the making of the film), then go back and listen to the commentary (which I have a gripe about, more later!) Basically, this film is a faithful adaptation of the 1946 short story that originally appeared in Amazing Stories, and finally made it into book form in the 1966 collection "S is for Space." Contrary to modern film-making, in the bulk of the footage of the film, there are NO green screens, NO CGI, just good, authentic looking sets, giving the entire film a gritty, realistic feel. It's obvious the actors were getting "into their roles" just from the atmosphere they had to work in. (FYI, the only green screen filming was used during production of some of those news reports on TV.)
Character development is exactly as one would expect from Ray Bradbury, who was, in fact, consulted frequently during the production, and gave his personal endorsement of the film at film festivals. Note: this means that this film is about CHARACTERS, not special effects.
The special effects, also (such as they are) are handled old-school as well, and mostly VERY effectively. >>Watch those mini-features to figure out what was a live person, and what wasn't! I failed!<< But this was the intention of the film makers, who wanted this to feel like a 1950's film, not a modern-day computer-generated effectaganza. It even features a couple of 1950's-style cheesy-bits... but even those are done so low key, and you're so absorbed into the interpersonal drama, that you probably won't get distracted by them.
Now for the gripe: The audio editing (especially volume) for the commentary track was awful. Period. No contest.
At some points, the film volume was so high, you could barely hear the comments. The bits of the conversation with Roger Lay (I think it was... but not sure!) and Ray Bradbury were obviously prerecorded, and spliced in, though content-wise, it was such a pleasure to hear from the inestimable RB himself, you almost don't care -- until the film volume drowns them both out. Also, during that separate recording session, you can tell that RB is talking LOUDLY and CLEARLY (as clear as a 90+ yo gentleman can be, anyway) into the mike, making the conversation a little jarring. The content is good -- mostly -- if you can get past the volume level mismatches.
Final note, and no it's not really a spoiler... If you expect this film to go out with a bang (explosions, gaudy spectacles, lots of death-and-dismemberment), you're not much of a Ray Bradbury fan, are you?
All in all, this is a keeper, not a renter. Highly recommended!
- Aug 31, 2011