This Island Earth (1955)

THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955)
Article #848 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-11-2003
Posting Date: 12-8-2003
Directed by Joseph Newman
Featuring Rex Reason, Faith Domergue, Jeff Morrow

A scientist is recruited by a strange man to do nuclear research.

Title check: The title makes a certain amount of sense within the bounds of the story; furthermore, it is one of the more poetically evocative titles to be found in fifties science fiction.

The main thing that prevents me from placing this ambitious science fiction epic in the front line of fifties science fiction films is that the pacing feels somewhat awkward in the second half of the movie; certain important plot twists occur too abruptly and unexpectedly, and I really think we don’t see near enough of Metaluna and its culture. Nevertheless, this is one of the most interesting stories from that era, with a plot that has slight similarites to an alien invasion story but really is playing a much more complex game. The most interesting aspect of the story is that our primary alien character (given a strong performance by Jeff Morrow) is someone who is going against the grain of his culture by recognizing that earthlings should be allowed to preserve their sense of free will; many movies with aliens tend to make them less varied than this. The first half of the movie is excellent, and the building of the interociter is one of my very favorite sequences in science fiction movies of the era. And though I love the look of the Metalunan Mutant, it felt like a bit of a cop-out to toss a monster into a story that didn’t need one and could have worked better without one; I actually wish they had made a separate movie altogether using the Mutants.

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