This Island Earth (1955)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/5/12
Cast: Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Russell Johnson

A disappointing science fiction adventure that relies too much on its overly self-important presentation. Nuclear scientists are being abducted from all over the world to help the people of the planet Metaluna repel an enemy invasion. But do the Metalunans have ulterior motives and can they be trusted? Dr. Cal Meacham (suave and sexy Rex Reason) and Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) attempt to escape, only to find themselves prisoners on a flying saucer heading for Metaluna. Turning his back on his own dying world, a compassionate and morally conflicted Metalunan named Exeter (Jeff Morrow) helps the humans escape back to Earth.

Over two years in the making, this film pulled out all the stops with state of the art special effects, including miniature photography, optical printing, matte paintings, rear projection, and chroma-keyed compositions. Unfortunately, the effects don't hold up particularly well today, and the long-winded and overly narrative story is hard to take seriously. Way too much time is spent on Exeter describing fascinating things to the confused and astonished Earthlings, which simply comes across as boring and uninteresting. The film's most iconic imagery is that of the horrific "mutas", which unfortunately look rather silly in action. Rex Reason is an incredibly sexy lead, and his baritone voice is simply rapturous. Unfortunately, there's no chemistry between him and Faith Domergue, who seems completely disinterested in the entire production. The film is notable in its sympathetic view of alien visitors and that they're not all merciless monsters out to kill us and steal our women. It's just a shame that the script is so heavy-handed and that the pacing is so sluggish.