Friday, July 22, 2011

Second Age Reviews: It Came From Outer Space

I feel kinda bad about this one, so I'll keep it short. The main reason I feel bad is I could honestly just copy-paste my Creature From the Black Lagoon review into my word processor, change a few details here and there, and post it with the exact same relevance. Hell they even both have the same director, Jack Arnold best known for films like The Incredible Shrinking Man or The Mouse That Roared. So I really don't feel like repeating myself on this one.

What this film does bring is a grim undercurrent of social commentary, and something I've long noticed about sci-fi (and to a lesser extent fantasy) is that social commentary makes good sci-fi fantastic and bad sci-fi pretentious. And while this has not aged anywhere near as well as other 50's and 60's sci-fi commentary (The Day the Earth Stood Still for example), yeah the commentary works, if only because you can tell it was deeply relevant at the time, and because they present it so well.

The dialogue is ham-handed, naturally, but we'll be nice and forgive that. The aliens look fine, at least when they look like themselves, which is rarely. There's a not unclever twist on the nature of the aliens and what they're doing on earth and while it's presented in an obvious way, it's at least a nice spin on the usual style of these movies. Oh and hey, Richard Carlson is in it. Remember, he was in King Solomon's Mines? No. Okay.

The 3D is naturally worthless, which is a shame because 3D prints from the 50s tend to have a yellowish tint and red outlines on the things in 3D. And on that note, some of the most random things in the world seem to be rendered in 3D (people's faces? Really). And while this isn't entirely a complaint, it's worth noting that it's a very short movie, barely 80 minutes.

At the end of the day I'm not certain that this works great as a movie. Cut an hour off it, bring it down to 20 minutes and you'd have a killer episode of The Twilight Zone (it would look nice next to The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street and man I could not go any nerdier could I?) As it is, it's an interesting example of pre-Dune sci-fi in film form, like The Wizard of Oz is for fantasy. I don't know how easy it is to track down, but if you're inclined give it a look. Just skip the 3D.

Next time on Second Age Reviews: South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut

Elessar is a 21 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he'd like this movie narrated by the announcer from Futurama.

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