WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS (1966)
(a.k.a. PLANET ON THE PROWL / IL PIANETA ERRANTE)
Article #1651 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-21-2005
Posting Date: 2-18-2006
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Featuring Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Ombretta Colli, Enzo Fiermonte
Members of a space station investigate a wandering planet that is threatening the Earth.
There’s a part of me that really wants to like some of these Italian space operas from the sixties, because there’s something rather charming about their attempts to tell rather complicated genre stories while lacking the financial wherewithal to pull them off. Unfortunately, the movie fights me every step of the way. For one thing, the dubbing is horrible, not so much in the manner of syncing the words up with the lips, but rather due to the poor acting abilities of those supplying the voices and the sometimes ludicrous translation of the dialogue (“Prepare for weight gain!” should obviously mean something else than a move to imbibe in a heavy dinner.) It’s also hampered by an overdose of science-fictionese (you know, all that techy dialogue that you can’t understand but sounds suitably scientific) and crippled by some phenomenally bad storytelling; with so much of the dialogue sounding like gobbledygook and poor exposition making scenes follow each other in seemingly random fashion, I become frustrated in my attempts to follow the story and end up finally throwing in the towel, watching the rest of the movie with a kind of sullen petulance. The only parts I can follow easily enough are the character interactions, and when these involve such cliches as the love triangle and the second-in-command who is in constant conflict with the commander until he sacrifices himself to save the others, you wonder why you bother. And the soundtrack (which jettisons any attempt to underline the emotional tenor of the scenes in lieu of reminding you that you’re watching science fiction) is no help. Maybe I’ll be able to follow this thing the fourth or fifth time around, but since I suspect the story could have been told clearly in one shot, I think it’s unfair to ask that of me. This one will probably most satisfy those who just get off on all the science fiction paraphernalia.