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20 Million Miles To Earth [DVD] [2002]

William Hopper , Joan Taylor , Nathan Juran    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: £4.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Reviews

Product Description

Dazzling special effects by Ray Harryhausen highlight this thrilling sci-fi extravaganza about a Venusian monster who wreaks havoc in Italy. On its way home from Venus, a U.S. Army rocket ship crashes into the sea of Sicily leaving Colonel Calder (William Hopper of Rebel Without a Cause) the sole survivor...or so it seems. A sealed container is also recovered from the wreck and, when a zoologist (The Mark of Zorro's Frank Puglia) and his granddaughter (Joan Taylor) open it, the gelatinous mass inside escapes. Overnight, it grows into a horrific monster that has doubled in size. In desperation, Calder calls in the Army to help fight the monster, which has taken refuge atop the Coliseum in Rome. But it will take more than man's weapons to fight the evil forces of the unknown and save the world from destruction.

From Amazon.co.uk

Notable neither for its director nor its stars, 20 Million Miles to Earth has been given the widescreen spit 'n' polish treatment because of its special-effects man, the legendary Ray Harryhausen. And it's his work here that makes this daft slice of hokum so watchable. When a group of Italian boat fishermen investigate a crash-landed space rocket returned from a trip to Venus, they find one surviving all-American hero and an alien in aspic: the Emere, a tiny homunculus hungry for sulphur and growing faster than a teenager on steroids. Cue man-vs-alien mayhem, screenfuls of avuncular patriarchs and the gratuitous destruction of Rome.

A by-numbers B-movie, Harryhausen's sixth feature isn't a patch on his later Technicolor masterpieces, but the unusual Italian setting ("I wanted a trip to Europe") adds an exotic quality and his effects are as solid and convincing as ever. The film only really begins to crackle when his stop-motion creation is onscreen. Like a scaly King Kong, he's as likely to engender sympathy as fear: surely anyone who's been bombed, blasted, burnt, electrocuted, shot at by trigger-happy squaddies and involved in a punch-up with a pachyderm is entitled to lose their rag a little. And fans will enjoy spotting in the Emere the flowerings of Harryhausen's later and greater creations, Sinbad's Cyclops and The Titans' Calibos and Kraken. The denouement, with the creature atop the Colosseum, is as effective as that of Kong's. It wasn't beauty who killed the beast here, however, it was bombs.

On the DVD: 20 Million Miles to Earth's black and white picture is clean and crisp in this anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, and the Dolby digital mono soundtrack is clear enough. The theatrical trailer will please fans of kitsch, as will the featurette "This Is Dynamation" produced at the same time as the first Sinbad movie. The real corker here, though, is the generously lengthed documentary "The Harryhausen Chronicles". Narrated by Leonard Nimoy, this features a stellar cast of devotees (George Lucas among them) waxing lyrical about the influence of Harryhausen's films, and allows the man himself to ramble fascinatingly over clips of his filmic canon. The claw-slash menu marker is a nice touch, too. If you're a fan, this disc is Harryhausen heaven. --Paul Eisinger

From the Back Cover

Dazzling special effects by Ray Harryhausen highlight this thrilling sci-fi extravaganza about a Venusian monster who wreaks havoc in Italy.

On its way home from Venus a US Army rocket ship crashes into the sea of Sicily leaving Colonel Calder (William Hopper of Rebel Without a Cause the sole survivor... or so it seems. A sealed container is also recovered from the wreck, and when a zoologist (The Mark of Zorro's Frank Pugalia) and his granddaughter (Joan Taylor) open it, the gelatinous mass inside escapes. Overnight, it grows into a horrific monster that has doubled in size. In desperation, Calder calls in the Army to help fight the monster, which has taken refuge atop the Coliseum in Rome. But it will take more than man's weapons to fight the evil forces of the unknown and save the world from destruction.

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