Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars31
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

The third and last of Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer's pictures for churn `em out fast and cheap executive producer Sam Katzman, 20 Million Miles to Earth is a decent mixture of sci-fi and monster movie. Rather than having its humans travel to another world and confront monsters or having ancient monsters reawaken and wreak destruction on the modern world, it tweaks both formulas to have a doomed mission to Venus bring back a sample of alien life with them. At first this creature is minute, but exposed to earth's atmosphere it doubles its size every day...

Although it's far from one of their best efforts as a film, some intelligence has gone into the script. The Italian setting allows the Ymir to fight for our entertainment on the same locations (the Colosseum) and against the same kind of creatures (an enraged elephant and well-armed fighting men) that gladiators did centuries earlier. And rather than going the King Kong route, there's no sympathy for the creature here - to the humans it's just an animal to be examined and then destroyed when it objects. But what really stands out about 20 Million Miles is the extraordinary quality of Harryhausen's special effects.

A close relative to the Kraken in Clash of the Titans, the Ymir is a huge leap forward for Harryhausen, the first of his own creatures to have a personality, conveyed through beautifully acted body language and credible reactions. It's also remarkably fluid compared to earlier efforts, constantly reacting - even when it's asleep it still breathes. Much of the animation is particularly complicated, not least a sequence when the Ymir is caught in a net. Throughout he's integrated into sets and real-life locations like the Rome Zoo, the Ponti St. Angelo and the Forum rather than just standing in the foreground as in much of Harryhausen's earlier work, even interacting properly with the shadows as the light source shifts. It's the moment that Harryhausen outdoes his mentor Willis O'Brien for the first time.

As with Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers and It Came From Beneath the Sea, Columbia's region-free Blu-ray offers a typically unconvincingly colorised version alongside the original black and white version (both probably cropped tighter than on their original release at 1.85:1) and another plentiful selection of extras - audio commentary by Ray Harryhausen, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett and Arnold Kunert, featurettes Remembering 20 Million Miles to Earth, Tim Burton Sits Down with Ray Harryhausen, The Colorization Process and David Schecter on Film Music's Unsung Hero, an interview with Joan Taylor that's also included on the Earth vs. the Flying Saucers [Blu-ray] [2008][Region Free], stills and poster galleries and a preview of the digital comic book, but no trailers for other Harryhausen films this time round.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This review is specific to the colourised version of the film, released in 2007, ASIN: B000QGEB1W. This version can also be found on the box set the Ray Harryhausen Collection : 20 Million Miles to Earth / Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers / It Came From Beneath The Sea [1955] [DVD].

This is an entertaining creature feature from the height of the genre. A manned mission has flown to Venus and back, picking up a specimen of the local life form whilst there. We enter the story just as the space ship is returning to Earth. It crashes in the Mediterranean, killing all but one of the crew and casting the specimen jar adrift. The jar is found and opened by a young boy who sells the contents to a local zoologist. The egg contained therein hatches and a Ymir is born. The film then follows the struggle between Ymir and man, as the creature starts to grow in an unfamiliar world. The Ymir just wants to be left alone and is by nature not an aggressive creature. But after unprovoked attacks it is driven mad, leading to a final thrilling showdown in then Coliseum of Rome.

It's a reasonably well constructed plot, and moves along at a good pace from one incident to the next. The acting is of variable quality, from the good performance of William Hopper as the space ship captain through to the terrible Italian accents of some of the Sicilian fishermen. But this is all part of the fun of these old B movies. The real joy of the feature is Ray Harryhausen's model work. He manages to imbue the Ymir with a real personality, and we feel much sympathy for the creature. The special effects are quite something, especially in the elephant fight and the rampage through Rome. From a technical and artistic point of view it is as good as only a Ray Harryhausen film can be.

This version has been colourised, though there is an option to watch the original black and white version, and one can even toggle between the two using the angle button on the remote. The colourisation works very very well. The film was originally conceived in colour, and would have been filmed as such except that the cost of colour film was prohibitive, and apparently colour film stock of the era was not of a good enough quality for Harryhausen to make his special effects. I feel that seeing it in colour is how it was originally intended, and the colourisation process has been done so proficiently you cannot see any running or overlay. The second disc of special features contains a short piece about the process which is interesting, an interview between Tim Burton and Harryhausen and a short piece about the composer. All in all it is an excellent package.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 August 2002
Before making his Sinbad movies and Jason And The Argonauts , Ray Harryhausen created the visual effects for a number of black and white monster pictures , the last of which was Twenty Million Miles To Earth. Most of the other elements of the movie are rather quaint , but the stop motion animation used for the creature from Venus still looks amazing today. In addition to the feature , the disc also contains a detailed one hour documentary on the whole of Harryhausen's career , a Dynamation promotional short from the time of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (both of these have appeared on previous releases ) and the original theatrical trailer.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 15 December 2007
A boy (Bart Bradley) on the beach finds a canister form a wayward spaceship that crashed in the sea. Hence the title "20 Million Miles to Earth" It yields a cute little creature that just loves to eat sulfur. He just wants to be friends and is intrigued with his environment. As with all innocent space creatures just as he is beginning to trust us, he is enslaved abused and thoroughly disenchanted. This is just an enjoyable creature movie with some people interaction and a question of what you do with a misplaced Ymir.

As you have guessed this movie is packed with Ray Harryhausen's stop motion. See more of Ray's work in "Clash of the Titans" notice how that there titan from the sea looks like the Ymir.

See William Hopper tackle something a bit bigger in "The Deadly Mantis" (1957)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 16 October 2005
A boy (Bart Bradley) on the beach finds a canister form a wayward spaceship that crashed in the sea. Hence the title "20 Million Miles to Earth" It yields a cute little creature that just loves to eat sulfur. He just wants to be friends and is intrigued with his environment. As with all innocent space creatures just as he is beginning to trust us, he is enslaved abused and thoroughly disenchanted. This is just an enjoyable creature movie with some people interaction and a question of what you do with a misplaced Ymir.

As you have guessed this movie is packed with Ray Harryhausen's stop motion. See more of Ray's work in "Clash of the Titans" notice how that there titan from the sea looks like the Ymir.

See William Hopper tackle something a bit bigger in "The Deadly Mantis" (1957)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 9 December 2002
A boy (Bart Bradley) on the beach finds a canister form a wayward spaceship that crashed in the sea. Hence the title "20 Million Miles to Earth" It yields a cute little creature that just loves to eat sulfur. He just wants to be friends and is intrigued with his environment. As with all innocent space creatures just as he is beginning to trust us, he is enslaved abused and thoroughly disenchanted. This is just an enjoyable creature movie with some people interaction and a question of what you do with a misplaced Ymir.

As you have guessed this movie is packed with Ray Harryhausen's stop motion. See more of Ray's work in "Clash of the Titans" notice how that there titan from the sea looks like the Ymir.

See William Hopper tackle something a bit bigger in "The Deadly Mantis" (1957)
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
"20 Million Miles to Earth" offers a pair of interesting oddities when it comes to the realm of Fifties science fiction films. First, the monster comes from Venus, which, you have to admit, is pretty unusual. Usually Venus produces beautiful blondes, not reptilian bipeds. Second, the monster runs amuck in Rome, whereas we tend to expect the creature from another planet to wreck havoc on New York (or Tokyo if it is a terrestrial monster). This is a rather low-keyed story, where the chief pleasures are derived from Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion special effects. As our thrilling story begins an American spaceship returns from Venus and crashes off the shore of Sicily. Only one astronaut, Colonel Robert Caulder (William Hopper) survives, to be tended by Marisa Leonardo (Joan Taylor) an almost doctor, who feels no need to feign an Italian accent, unlike others in the cast, although most of the accents sound more Spanish than anything else to my ear (as does some of the ethnic music). Even more amazing, it takes a while for anybody from the government, local or American, to show up for the spaceship's crew (at which point the locals are confused by the idea of visiting Venus rather than Venice, which makes me somewhat surprised the climatic battle is not in the city of canals).
Meanwhile, Pepe, a boy from the local fishing village who drams of earning 200 lire to buy a cowboy hat, discovers a strange egg, which he promptly sells to Dr. Leonardo (Frank Puglia). The small creature grows rapidly and eventually attains a heigh of 20 feet as it starts cutting a path of destruction through the streets of the Eternal City. Fortunately Colonel Caulder is around to offer helpful exposition (apparently the crew discovered you cannot breathe on Venus, but only after many of them stopped dropping dead), but the film comes down to Harryhausen's special effects with the Ymir and the pathos he creates for the creatures who is stranded on a planet millions and millions of miles from home (think King Kong with scales). This is mainly because every time the action focuses on the humans the dumb dialogue really starts to get to you. Still, it is nice to go back to those good old days when a couple of American military officers could throw around a bunch of lire and do what they want in a foreign country where everybody apparently understands English if they are not actually speaking the language. "20 Million Miles to Earth" is pure B-movie entertainment, owing all of its success entirely to Harryhausen's stop motion animation with the Ymir, because you will end up rolling your eyes at just about everything else in this 1957 film (unless, of course, you have yet to hit puberty and are inclined to giggle at the insipid romance between the astronaut and the almost doctor).
Finally, boys and girls, let us consider the scientific validity of the title. Is Venus 20 million miles from earth? Well, Venus is 67 million miles from the sun and the Earth is 93 million miles from the sun. So that is a difference of 26 million miles, BUT that assumes the two planets are on the same side of the sun and on the same plane and all sorts of other fun things. At any given moment the planets could be anywhere from 26 million to 160 million miles away from each other. But would a title "26 to 160 Million Miles From Earth" really work? I think not.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 May 2010
Nice touch to the 50s atomic age science fiction genre . Seen this little gem at the pictures when I was a teenager and have since developed a soft spot for 1950s science fiction films . Special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen was at his peak when he made this 1957
blockbuster for Columbia Studios . Same old story , spacecraft returns from a mission , it crashlands off the coast of Sicily , a rescue
team discovers that the crew has brought back a gelatinous mass that soon hatches and evolves into a strange bi-ped creature which increases in size rapidly . Soon 20 feet tall , the creature rampages through Rome before being destroyed as it seeks refuge in the Colosseum . This was one of the earliest grounbreaking films , now available for the first time in vibrant colour !
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 July 2014
Good classic B movie, excellent stop motion, the acting is not the best and it has to contend with the beast from 20,000 fathoms, which does set the bar very high.
Its an enjoyable monster action movie
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 January 2014
I am a Sci Fi nut so the more 'B' rated the movie the better...if its not good with the plot, you can always have a laugh at the vintage 'special effects'!...this one is a bit naff but still sits in my sci fi collection as a watchable film...you can guess the quality when the space ship/rocket crash lands in the sea at the start of the film but up ends in one piece...impossible, but its a B movie don't forget!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)