Customer Review

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3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful if unexciting SF presented in very poor quality, 15 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Man From Earth [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
A number of reviewers here have made the point that while this story would work as a play (they are right), as a film this is unexciting. I'd agree with this in essence, but I'd also say that SF is about ideas and this is why it's so hard to make good ideas-based SF - cinema is good at visuals, but not so strong on ideas, so dialogue or voiceover has to provide this element in stories where effects cannot illustrate the ideas.

As a serious SF enthusiast, I found the film refreshing in its basic drama and low-key approach. However, it is obvious that the form this idea would work best in is the short story. For anyone looking for an interesting work of humanist SF to divert them for 85 minutes, it's worth seeing, but this is not a massively exciting tale for anyone well read in the genre. These kind of shaggy god stories have been old hat for a long time...

The picture quality of the DVd is overall quite appalling - the first 20 minutes or so are passable, then the whole thing becomes shrouded in grain, fog and...well, it just looks terrible. Such poor standards of mastering are unacceptable, I'm afraid.

The extras are also a massive disappointment. Instead of providing in-depth information about writer Jerome Bixby's place as a genre author (he edited an SF magazine at one time and wrote some prose SF), we simply get brief anecdoates from the cast about how they encountered Bixby's work on an episode of 'Star Trek' and a 'Twilight Zone' show based on his best known story, plus tales of how most of them ended up playing guest roles in later incarnations of 'STar Trek'. Bixby's (arguably) more significant and influential work on the screenplay 'It! The Terror from Beyond Space' (a film said to have inspired 'Alien', which 'It!' does resemble, though Van Vogt's 'Space Beagle' is a source text for both films) is not mentioned. One caveat: I didn't feel moved to listen to the commentary on the DVD after seeing how flimsy and pointless the other extras were, so maybe this does get referenced.

Overall, this is an interesting little film presented very badly, with little imagination. Shame.
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