The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ant-Man and the Wasp
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All Critics (3)
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| DVD (1)
Instead of being talky and boring, it's mostly talky and corny.
Enjoyable, silly, cheapjack sci-fi for those in the mood.
Or as its also known 'Flight to the Future'. Poster reflection time again, these old classics tend to have either really striking posters, really mundane or really obscure and shitty. What the hell is going on with this movies poster?? I genuinely can't make it out, I can see a clock face, a rocket and what looks like a human figure, its all a terrible blurry mess of colours, abstract images and shapes.
Moving on to the plot, yep its another repeat plot we've all seen and heard before. In fact this plot is so familiar the estate of H.G. Wells threatened a lawsuit against this movie (dunno how that turned out) and its not hard to see why. Its essentially a time travel flick involving a group of four men on their way back from a reconnaissance mission to Mars. On route to Earth something goes wrong with their ship as it accelerates with incredible speed knocking out its crew. The ship later crash lands on a planet which the men discover to be Earth hundreds of years in the future. After some exploration the four men eventually discover that the human race was probably wiped out by an atomic war leaving two types of people. One race of primitive mutants that live on the surface, and one race of normal intelligent people that live underground in a civilised society.
So yes you can clearly see the very close similarities between this and H.G. Wells timeless classic, plus a whole host of other movies that share the same premise. Seriously almost every movie I review from this era is generally surrounding a small group of people made of up scientists, professors, doctor and military types. Most of which are young men with an older male and one lone female for sex appeal. Its a common trait of these movies and the time, just gotta accept it. Although this plot narrative of finding a society of intelligent people living apart from a society of mutants is getting mighty stale folks. Anyway, in this movie you have Commander Dr. Eldon Galbraithe (Nelson Leigh), Radioman Herbert Ellis (Rod Taylor...do I need to point out the link here), engineer Henry Jaffe (Christopher Dark) and scientist John Borden (Hugh Marlowe).
To kick off the cockpit interior on the crews ship is actually nicely done. All four men face away from the camera to give the illusion of the shape of the ship, which is unique. All four men sit in these large leather looking swivel chairs that do fit in with the whole cockpit vibe, I like the way they were able to move the chairs into a horizontal position also. The controls, dials, gauges etc...all look quite realistic with a decent looking dashboards, considering what some other offerings have looked like. They actually look like they might do something other than just light up and flash. Then in between two of the men there is this telescope looking piece of equipment that is mounted on some kind of moving swivelling base. Not sure what it was exactly, it looks like it may have been taken from some type of military vehicle and obviously added for flashy effect, and it works.
So the ships interior looks pretty swish all things considered, I was impressed. Alas things take a massive nosedive when the ship starts to careen out of control into gauge busting speeds. The model effects for this sequence are truly laughable. The model rocket is fair enough, although basic, but the way they literally throw this model around to simulate the turbulence as it accelerates is plain ridiculous. It genuinely looks like a child is in charge of this model as it thrashes about. I honesty thought of Ed Wood when watching this small sequence.
Much of the movie is taken up with the four men trekking around on the future Earth looking for clues. Then once they discover the mutants we get quite a bit of hokey fights and (cap) gunfire that somehow never seems to hit anything despite being virtually point blank range. Things really start to get hokey (and admittedly somewhat dull) when the men discover the underground race of humans that all dress in medieval attire it seems. Of course all the men are weak, skinny, ugly and clearly out of shape, whilst all the women are stunningly gorgeous and fall instantly in love with the outsiders (of course). But this isn't enough for our four burly men oh no. They want to live on the surface, go back to their ship and basically rock the boat on these people's simple idyllic lives. Its at this point where every male watching would probably ask themselves, would I live out the rest of my days getting sucked off by these hot gals, who are totally enamoured with me, in this underground city of plenty? Yes...yes I would.
What follows is legitimately boring I'm afraid, much of the spiel involves the men talking to their ladies trying to get them to understand how trapped they are. Then they talk to the city elders trying to convince them how trapped they are. At first everyone ignores them, then there's a bit of a kerfuffle with one jealous city adviser trying to stitch the four men up over their weapons. That gets quickly resolved and surprise surprise, all the elders now agree with the men, its time to go to the surface. But in order to do that they must fight off the mutants, so the city people help engineer weapons (a bazooka) in order to blow all those mutants to hell.
This movie starts out well and really engages you thanks to the time dilation aspect of the story. Unfortunately the whole thing quickly crumbles into a mundane, by the numbers affair which you'll swear you've seen before (because essentially you have). The whole underground city full of beautiful women thing is so flippin' cliched and stupid, even if it is a wicked fantasy. And like I said before, most normal blokes would probably be quite happy to live there so the plot isn't urging or helping you to support the main protagonists in any way. You just think they're idiots. Obviously down to budget restraints you don't see anything much of this underground world, merely a few rooms that look like something from the world of Aladdin. Even exterior shots and sequences don't really feel like they're expanding the story. There are no matte backgrounds or models of ruined cities or anything to give some depth, it all feels so limited and small.
Bottom line there is really no motivation for these underground people to come and live on the surface. They have a fantastic set up underground with plenty of food and water, warmth, comfort etc...and they are fully able to exit their caves and go outside, they're not trapped in any way. So really there's no real point to the main plot. The aspect of reproduction and how these people aren't doing enough of it doesn't really make much sense either. How does living on the surface make any difference? OK in the end they adopted all the kids from the mutants once they were defeated but that doesn't change anything for the future, nor does the inclusion of these four outsiders from the future. I guess the idea is the four outsiders will have stronger children and will help the weak underground dwellers expand in the future. Being outside will presumably lead to healthier children in the future too. I also assume the mutants die out because who cares about them right? pfft!
Yeah so overall the plot seems poorly thought out in my view, trying too hard to possibly ride the coattails of other successful movies. Compounding the issue further is the fact that the entire movie is so bland looking, there is nothing here to grab your attention in any way. Ironically the acting is actually pretty good from all four main leads, Rod Taylor especially going all in when attacked by the most obvious giant foam rubber spider at one point. Did I say attacked? I meant when it was clearly thrown at him by someone off set. Yeah that's probably the highlight of the movie right there.
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