Saturday, May 25, 2013

'70s Trash: H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come

A Sci-Fi Classic from the man who brought you Frogs.  Okay, maybe 'classic' is not the right word.  To begin with, this film has pretty much nothing to do with the story.  Mind you, the book is not exactly the most famous work of Fiction of the last century or anything, so a lot of you may not realize it.  From what I understand, the film pretty much just uses some of the names from the book, but that's it.  The film was made in 1979, so you can probably guess what inspired the film's release.  Yes, it was the classic 1977 film ABBA: The Movie.  No, it was obviously Star Wars.  What does the Director of The Littlest Hobo(totally real BTW) bring to the table?  Well, for starters, there's Jack Palance as the villain.  If you've seen Hawk the Slayer, you'd know that he's great at that.  If you've seen him in Alone in the Dark (the Slasher film, not the Uwe Boll one), you'd realize how good he is at this.  If you've remember him as Kaleel on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, then you'd...probably be my Dad.  The film features Palance as Omus, a man with a plan and a robot army at his command.  He wants to conquer New Washington, one of the few remaining human settlements around.  Can he be stopped?  To find out whether Ovals are the dominant Shapes of Things to Come, read on...
Text Crawls- don't you miss them?  Oh and it's the tomorrow after tomorrow.  Just so you know.
The humans are settled on Delta-3, which appears to be next to Epcot.  It's the most boring place on Earth (when you're 12, at least).
Palance- who's not nearly in this film enough- wants to take over their Kingdom.  He has a robot army at his behest, which I'm mostly mentioning as an excuse to use the word 'behest.'  It's a fun word AND it makes me sound smart.
This 1979 film has one major thing in common with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (released the same year): a love of showing ships just sort of floating.  This film seems to have about 1/10 of the budget of that film, so it's not quite as interesting (which isn't saying much).
A group of scientists are stuck on a nearby planet, but find that Palance's robots don't want to make peace.  Not to SPOIL things too much, but their outfits are all red.  You do the math.
I don't actually have a reason to show this picture, but look at it and tell me that I really need one.  Awesome!
Omus has a super-deadly weapon: a shiny Disco ball that makes loud, silly noises.  Feel the...terror?  Oh and the way that he's immune to its effects is by wearing...
 This helmet.  Just...look at that.

His plans are spoiled by our heroes, a teleporting robot and a lot of moxy.  Seriously, the robot can do what he calls a Bi-Locational Transportation (or BLT).  Ha ha ha.
With the day saved, our heroes fly off into space.  Please ignore the seam in the background wall of 'space' in order to truly enjoy this effect.  The End.
It's a big, silly mess of a film.  It's really not terrible, but there's not enough interesting stuff.  A lot of the film is just ships floating around in space.  Seriously, there is a lot of that.  Watching the film in a Blu-Ray Player and on a HDTV is an interesting experience, as it desperately tries to Up-Convert this thing.  The result is that it alternately looks decent and terrible.  The prop stuff- like the ships and planets- look super-fake (which they make in SD too), while the footage of live Actors looks pretty good.  It's certainly not the best use for my HDTV, that's for sure.  As far as the film itself, it's got a decent-enough story to it.  The robots are goofy fun and there's a pretty good amount of action in it.  If you're a fan of Sci-Fi and haven't seen this film, it's worth a look.  It's by no means perfect, but is worth at least one viewing.  If you don't like Sci-Fi, it's a harder recommendation.  If nothing else, you can play a game I call Spot the Smudge(s) on the Print...
Next up, I celebrate Memorial Day with some Real American Heroes.  Yo Direct-to-Video Action!  Stay tuned...

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