Carl Meacham is an atomic scientist, who after passing a cunning test, gets invited to work at a top secret lab out in Georgia by the rather odd looking Exeter. The project is apparently in the cause of finding world peace, and once arriving at his destination, Carl finds other notable scientists are also there, including the radiant Ruth Adams. As things progress things don't quite add up, and this leads to a realisation that the future of Earth is very much in the balance.
This Island Earth not only divides the casual film viewer, it's also proved divisive amongst the most hardened of sci-fi genre supporters. Some say it's story is barely worth a second glance, whilst others point to a distinct lack of scientific nous as a reason to do the film down. To me I find it to be very much on the money for the era it was made. This film comes nearly ten years after America ended World War II with an atomic attack on Japan, nuclear reactors had been commissioned and were no longer seen solely as a weapon of mass destruction, the nuclear age was prominent and very much a reality.
Yes the film is far fetched fantasy, and it tries too hard to encompass a myriad of plot strands, something which to the younger viewers is likely to fly right over their heads. But the value comes very much in the production as a whole. Marvel at the sets, the model work and the gadgets that feature heavily in this delicious slice of berserker sci-fi. Take in the incredible work of cinematographer Clifford Stine as we find ourselves on a desolate planet, it's a beacon of the genre because it identified the benefits of Technicolor to sci-fi and used it vividly to enhance its story (even if subsequent home entertainment releases have yet to restore it to a print fully worthy of the color venture).
The lovely Faith Domergue and square jawed Rex Reason play our intrepid scientists with verve and vigour, whilst Jeff Morrow is uneasily quirky as the mysterious Exeter. This Island Earth is a technically wonderful film, a shining light from a time when cinema was a craft from all quarters of the medium, it's also intelligent and knowingly astute of its time frame.
Don't believe the nay sayers, this is a smart, poetic fantasy that also contains genuine moments of beauty. 7/10
on 5 November 2010
We remember the fifties era of SF movie-making as a triumph of the B movies but it is easy to forget that the B list depended on a number of highly succesful A movies to lead the way in what was a golden era of sf in general. This Island Earth is one of the "proper" sf stories to make it to the screen at that time. It presents our scientist hero with a mystery that only his technical expertise can solve and, in solving it and building an "interossiter" he is plunged into a deeper mystery and an interstellar adventure.
The effects are very slick for the time, presenting some of the best model work and matte painting to be found in movies. Clearly some money was spent. The converter tubes present a reasonably subtle "red button" for a genuinely scarey finale and the story of the metalunans struggling to save their civilisation by any means possible is a worthy utopian plot drive the whole movie forward.
If you enjoy good science fiction in cinema and solid 50s sf writing, This Island Earth should be in your collection. Oh, and there's the best ever movie BEM in this one.
on 27 February 2006
I was 9 years old when I saw this film in a little cinema of Rome, with a little screen and a sound that was...something near to a sound, but I was astonished the same.The emotional impact is really great, some scenes like the green-lighted UFO that captures the aeroplane are worth of a cinema anthology. I am sorry that this film is not available in zone 2 DVD and don't understand the reason, because it is a little masterpiece !
on 23 August 2000
THIS ISLAND EARTH
reviewed by NEVILLE HURT
A weirdly wonderful green ray rescues scientist Jeff Morrow's plane from crashing. And after building, and using some "crazy-mixed up plumbing" - an interrossiter, we go on an atomspheric ride on a plane with no pilot, that landed in a spooky foggy field. The best ride of all is on a flying saucer to the alien's home planet.
This is what made this film special in it's day. All the other 50's films were solely earth based. I really loved to see where the aliens lived, and what the inside of their flying saucer was like.
The film can be a little creaky, but it doesn't spoil the fun. It's well acted and the aliens look quite good. The mutant monster on their home planet can look a little "just a man dressed up" but the whole film is a nice series of special trips and adventures!
We know from John Donne that "no man is an island" but now we know that "this planet is just an island in a vast inhabited universe."
Cult favorites get no respect, especially on MST3K. Still, it's comforting to know that 30 years from now our grandchildren will be chortling with superiority while they watch the Mystery Science Theater 6000 treatment of Kill Bill on their beet-powered 3D zygordapods.
This Island Earth combines the clunky dialogue, earnest acting and steadfast plotting that makes so many Fifties movies hard not to satirize, whether the director is Joseph Newman, as in this case, or Douglas Sirk or Samuel Fuller. Is This Island Earth so much sillier or up for satire than, say, Fuller's The Naked Kiss? Probably not, although Criterion disagrees. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed.
One thing for sure, the planet Metaluna looks like it has a bad case of small pox. Dr. Cal Meachum (Rex Reason) and Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) are too polite to say this to Exeter (Jeff Morrow) as Exeter's flying saucer escapes asteroid attacks and manages to land on the besieged planet. The Metalunans are fighting off a vicious enemy and desperately need uranium to power their asteroid shields. That failing, they will move to Earth for a bit of ethnic cleansing before settling down to a new start. Exeter had been in charge of recruiting Earth scientists, with Dr. Adams and Dr. Meachum among them, to solve the problem of...well, I've forgotten. Exeter, however, is a good Metalunan and doesn't want to see these earthlings have their brains rearranged in a special machine. In the background are the hulking, dangerous moo-tants, as Exeter pronounces their name. They appear to be the result of Metalunan scientists' successful efforts to breed army ants with cows. Will Exeter save his new friends from the head Metalunan and the moo-tants? Will Earth be saved? Will Dr. Meachum and Dr. Adams return home in each other's arms? And what about Exeter? Will the third tube save him?
It all started when the talented, dashing Dr. Meachum received, instead of the condensers he ordered, two of the AB-619 model. He'd never heard of such things. They were followed by a mysterious metal catalogue and a set of plans to build an interociter. His interest piqued, he places an order. Before long Dr. Meachum has sorted through 2,486 parts scattered haphazardly across his lab floor and has built the thing. By inserting the accompanying intensifier disc, a forerunner of the Blu-ray DVD, into the slot in the upper right side of the interociter, he makes video contact with Exeter, who entices him to join a challenging scientific effort. It was at the luxurious hidden laboratory complex somewhere in Georgia that he is reacquainted with Dr. Adams. And then, suspicious of the setup, they try to escape, only to find themselves on their way to Metaluna in that flying saucer. (Cal and Ruth seem to be among those many holders of PhDs who prefer to use their titles, most likely to reassure each other that they did indeed pass their orals.)
This Island Earth is great fun and not much more. Because it is so earnest, it's one of those pulp science fiction movies all too easy to make fun of. I'll plead guilty, too, but any sarcasm was inadvertent. This is a movie to enjoy with a gentle smile. But what about Exeter and that third tube? See the movie, but here's a hint...
"Yes," says Exeter to Cal and Ruth as they flee in the spaceship back toward Earth, "they're concentrating all their attention on Metaluna. Those flashes of light... they're meteors... hundreds of them! Intense heat is turning Metaluna into a radioactive sun. Temperature must be... thousands of degrees by now. A lifeless planet. And yet... yet still serving a useful purpose, I hope. Yes, a sun. Warming the surface of some other world. Giving light to those who may need it. Now, into the converter tubes! Ruth, you take the first tube. Cal, you the next."
"What about you?" asks Cal.
Exeter pauses, then says, "I'll use the third tube."
The Technicolor DVD transfer looks great. There are no extras. And while there are chapter stops, there's no index of them on the menu.
on 1 September 2009
This was my first ever experience of Science Fiction which I remember fondly. I liked it so much I also bought the paperback many decades later. I was particularly bowled over by the thought that there could ever be beings from another planet, that they could be amongst us, that strange devices called interroceters could be used as an intelligence test & the bug eyed worker on Metaluna was very scary, when I was 5 yrs old. I actually enjoyed the paperback better as the film doesn't stand the test of time so well. On the whole I would watch this if it comes up on the telly, I would read the book (much more believable & interesting) but I can't honestly recommend anyone buy the film except for nostalgia.
on 28 February 2016
Above average, just about 50s sci-fi. The main thing is the story line is pretty strong for what looks like a b-flick. Acting wooden, yes, but I don't think it spoils the viewing. No comment about special effects etc - it is what it is for the period and this was at the start of the b-flick sci-fi craze. Faith domergue was strictly b-actor and it shows. The rest are only slightly better if at all. The final point is there's enough here to send your imagination racing which is what the mo it's is all about.
on 8 June 2014
One of the greats of 50's sci-fi is This Island Earth.
Most would call it a B movie but not I. This film has standards of effects, set dressing, costumes and ideas that were, at the time, equal to today's multi-million dollar block busters. It still looks good today on this DVD transfer, and would really benefit from a blu ray clean up that would hopefully boost the wonderfully colourful images this film contains. There are moments of tensions, excitement, terror and true spirit of friendship that can span Galaxies and species.
As with all the best 50's sci-fi, the women look like pouting, real, sophisticated, well dressed non stick insect's that are a darn site more sexy than most modern hard nosed tattooed female "heroines". The Male lead is usually a clean cut, brylcreem guy, usually a Colonel in the Airforce and blessed with a deep Texan accent and plentiful supply of big shoulder padded suits!
The story is simple, the planet "Metalunar" has been at war for years, the planet smashed and in dire need of assistance. A few members of the large forehead Metalunar race set up a secret society "The Institute" on Earth and recruit Human Scientists to help them in their cause. The novel method of recruitment is used by the Aliens, they send out parts of a great machine, the "Interrossiter", that the scientist of choice has to build and then switch on. If they complete the test, they speak to the leader of the Alien race, if they fail, the machine self destructs and they are not asked to join.
Things as usual go wrong for the Aliens and our heroes find themselves transported to the Aliens home world where we meet one of early cinema's best bug eyed, crab pincered monster creations!
Excellent fun is this film, get it and watch it on a boring afternoon when there is nothing on TV.
on 9 October 2013
Okay you have to be of a mindset to enjoy films with poor effects, but the story line is really good, oddly it shows that we can destroy our world, the same as they did, maybe we can learn from this film even now?
on 9 February 2014
I saw this film ages ago as a boy and I had to buy it.
This 50s sci fi genre is not for everyone, however the story lines are good and the special effects for the time of no CGI are a wonder.
Well worth having, but folks will wonder what your about if they watch it with you unless they too are into the sci fi genre.
Recommended, you wont be disappointed