2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 20 Million Miles: Still Packs a Wallop
There is a handful of horror/big bug movies from the 50s that the astute viewer can usually spot right away. A large and dangerous creature is either brought to earth from outer space or is roused from a long state of suspended animation to wreak havoc on a densely populated city. Army units are trucked in to battle the creature and soldiers carrying M1 rifles leap out to...
Published on Jan 23 2003 by Martin Asiner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Film has not aged well at all.....
In the mid-1950's, Colombia Pictures did more then their fair share of creature features. But not a lot of them were any good. Case in point is this disapointment from 1955. Made alongside It Came From Beneath The Sea, it also suffers from a low budget, terrible script, and bad casting. The Ymir really looks like a "creature test" that Ray was doing in order...
Published on Aug 6 2003
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 20 Million Miles: Still Packs a Wallop,
This review is from: 20 Million Miles to Earth [Import] (VHS Tape)There is a handful of horror/big bug movies from the 50s that the astute viewer can usually spot right away. A large and dangerous creature is either brought to earth from outer space or is roused from a long state of suspended animation to wreak havoc on a densely populated city. Army units are trucked in to battle the creature and soldiers carrying M1 rifles leap out to face a monster that is given face and form by the master of slow motion animatronics, Ray Harryhausen. In 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, the obvious dating of the film does not detract from the audience's enjoyment of a creature that curiously enough brings in a number of cinematic subtexts. The first is the punishment that humanity invariably incurs when it dares to Learn Things Man Was Not Meant To Uncover. In this case, a seventeen crewman rocket ship returns from Venus to crash into the sea off Sicily. A tiny reptile/human hybrid survives the crash only to grow every day to outsized proportions. The havoc the reptile dumps on Rome is a not so subtle reminder of the dangers that Prometheus faced when he too tried to steal fire and thunder from the gods. A second subtext is the constant clashing between scientists who wish to study a dangerous creature and the military who wish to kill it for the same reason. Remember in THE THING when scientist Robert Cornthwaite dashed up to the marauding plantman to shout, 'You are wiser than we. They (pointing to the miliary types) wish to kill you.' In 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, director Nathan Juran tries a clever reverse by having a US Army colonel played by William Hopper take on the politically myopic scientist role who begs the Italian mayor to spare the creature in the name of science. Then finally there is the eternal Hollywood custom of subordinating the educated and lovely female scientist (Joan Taylor) to the two-fisted uniformed manly male (Hopper) so that a romance blossoms even as the creature romps in their very midst.
I had not seen this movie for nearly twenty years until I bought it on VC, and I was astonished at how well I remembered the plot. The special effects by Ray Harryhausen are still second to none. In fact, Harryhausen's genius brought in a final subtext. His ability to make the creature bounce and move gave it a personality that I immediately connected to King Kong. Both were creatures that ruled their respective home planets. Both were neither evil nor amoral. They simply acted in accordance to a nature that humanity refused to acknowledge. And both sought higher ground at the end with each trumpeting out a final roar of defiance before overwhelming military might. The emotions that well up in the one's heart as he sees what happens when strong and independent animals clash against man and his infinitely confusing artificial laws leave one with the unsettling notion that perhaps there really are Things Man Is Not Supposed to Know. 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH says this as well as any film can.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Harryhausen's early work,
Harryhausen had originally developed a story about the frost giant Ymir from Norse mythology. He then changed the creature to a cyclops-satyr mix from another planet who rampages on modern Earth, but still kept the name Ymir. (The Cyclops-satyr would later show up in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.") When the film finally went before the cameras, the Ymir had become a humanoid-reptilian beast from Venus. Brought to Earth in a crashed rocket, the Ymir emerges as only a few inches high, but starts growing rapidly in the Earth's atmosphere. Originally peaceful, the Ymir is provoked into violence by frightened humans. The movie climaxes in Rome when the captive Ymir bursts loose and starts smashing famous monuments in the Eternal City.
The parallels to King Kong are obvious, and Harryhausen intended the Ymir to also be a sympathetic, misunderstood creature. He succeeded grandly: "20 Millions Miles to Earth" is Harryhausen's best early film. The direction from Nathan Juran and the human actors are perfunctory and clichéd, but the effects are still stunning today, and the Ymir is a superb actor. Designed along human lines, but with dinosaur features, the Ymir elicits strong emotions and exudes tremendous personality. The scene of it hatching from its 'pod' (made of gelatin) and exploring the strange world around it for the first time is one of the high points of Harryhausen's career, and a sequence of which he rightly feels great pride. The scene of the full-sized, fifteen-foot Ymir wrestling an elephant (also animated) is also a stunning piece of work.
(Harryhausen's love of the Ymir extended to late in his career. In his last film, "The Clash of the Titans," he used the Ymir as the basis for the design of the multiple-armed monster the Kraken -- the heads and bodies are almost the same.)
The DVD presents the film in widescreen format for the first time since its theatrical release. The image is crystal clear and lets Harryhausen's work shine. There are a few extras. "The Harryhausen Chronicles," a lengthy documentary, does an excellent overview of the man's career. This same documentary appears on most of Columbia's Harryhausen DVDs, so if you're a fan of the animator you've probably seen this before. Also included is a vintage featurette about the animation process, called "This is Dynamation." It was made for the release of "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," so it actually has nothing to do with "20 Million Miles to Earth."
This is a must-have DVD for any Harryhausen fan and any admirer of 50s science fiction. It's one of the highlights of giant monster cinema.
4.0 out of 5 stars "A strange animal. Like nothing you're ever seen before...",
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Film has not aged well at all.....,
By A Customer
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Overlook This Little Miracle.,
This review is from: 20 Million Miles to Earth [Import] (VHS Tape)My review is aimed primarily at viewers who have not seen this film and who are serious Harryhausen fans ( I mean viewers who realize that Harryhausen is a genuine artist and not just a Hollywood entertainer) and who are willing to make the effort to deepen their understanding and appreciation of his work.
Let me begin by noting that 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH has, unfortunately, some of those characteristics that make so many 50's sci-fi/monster films very stimulating and very frustrating at once: it wastes so much precious time on all that typical tiresome tripe instead of feeding and building those essential sparks that alone make it worthwhile into the real and gratifying fire it could be. By the time it gets around to what matters the film is basically over.
This is one of those films.
BUT, BUT, dear reader, I am not contradicting myself in saying that this is one of Harryhausen's really important films because in spite of the mediocre work that other people bring to it, this is the film in which Harryhausen's genius fully breaks through into clear visibility. It is with the creation of the 'Ymir', the alien creature that is the CENTRAL CHARACTER of this film, that we first fully see Harryhausen's essential gift and vision. The Ymir is one of Harryhausen's finest and most sensitive creations. And ironically it is because of the mediocrity of the rest of this film that one can get a particularly focused look at the creature: It is like an eruption of deep, intense color and form against a bland gray background that is haunting and unforgettable. Don't buy this film because it is a great genre film, it isn't. Buy it because it is a fabulous introduction to the genius of Ray Harryhausen. Don't buy it for what it should have been: a classic of its type. Buy it for what it is: an unexpected little miracle in the midst of banality.
I can only laugh when people refer to Harryhausen's creations as 'dated'. The Ymir is alive, is en-souled, as no computer generated creature ever has been or probably ever will be.
Long live Ray Harryhausen!
4.0 out of 5 stars 20 Million Miles to Earth,
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This review is from: 20 Million Miles to Earth (DVD)Do you like tack "B" Sci fi? If so ... this is for you. It's fun! A Venusian blob of glue becomes a type of Godzilla that grows and grows and grows. The critter is state of the art for the time as Ray Hausenhower (sp?) created him and he's the best before computers took over. Think of Clash of the Titans and Sinbad. The story is simple but well written. The Sicilian scenery is mostly beach but the people are well-casted and are probably Sicilian. The inevitable bumbling professor-type and the always presents screaming female are perfect in their roles. This movie is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon and don't forget the popcorn.
5.0 out of 5 stars Definately One of the Best!,
The acting is decent but nothing worth applauding about. A little Italian kid gets annoying during the first half of the movie.
Overall, it's a classic monster film that will really appeal more to die-hard fans of the genre, little kids, and people who grew up watching these movies.
4.0 out of 5 stars WHEN IN ROME,
Harryhausen was a genius, working pretty much on his own. In today's CGI special effects, it's hard to think of only one person being able to create such marvelous fx.
4.0 out of 5 stars Harryhausen's Best B&W Film,
Today teams of men and dozens of computers create effects. Back in 1957, Harryhausen alone created amazingly lifelike creatures. When you see one of his films, you'll want to see them all.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good example of the 50's Science Fiction Films,
The Ymir was really well animated for its time (OK, for today's standards, the "stop motion" technique might seem a little bit crude), but you can't help but notice that, although the creature looks fake, it "feels" real. Once again, Harryhausen shows his mastery.
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20 Million Miles to Earth by Nathan Juran (DVD - 2007)
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