Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When Worlds Collide (1951)

A star and it’s planet is hurtling towards earth, signalling doom to life as we know it. In an attempt to save a portion of humanity, a private group attempts to build a rocket to fly to this new planet.

Some parts of this movie are enjoyable enough. I liked it when the movie examines how people react to the news that the world will end, and the government’s response afterwards, although I felt that the movie did not concentrate on this for long enough. The idea for a private company to construct a rocket to the planet was an interesting idea, although it’s initial premises were quite flawed. I also enjoyed the idea of the rich, wheelchair-bound man financing the trip to pay for a berth on the ship. So, there is the occasional interesting idea here.

The characters and actors in the movie are serviceable, although I do have some questions about their skills. The acting is slightly ham-like at times, but nothing too unbearable. However, the tribulations of the main characters did not terribly interest me at all, nor did the love triangle that occurred in the movie.

The special effects are quite mixed, here. The incoming star looks decent enough, there is some nice model-work for the tidal destruction scenes, and a few other things look passably decent. On the other hand, there is some laugably poor special effects, too, that ruin any goodwill that might be generated from the good efforts prior to this. I’d suspect this of being a spoof of some sort if the movie had a more humorous script – poorly-painted backgrounds, bad models, particularly of the rocket and it’s surrounding area.

There are a plethora of problems with this movie, though, that far outweigh any positives that I might find. There are glaring scientific problems – there is a huge presumption that the incoming planet has breathable air and water, as one easy example. Yes, this is questioned briefly, but you know that they are going to be able to survive. I think that the movie would have been far more interesting with an “everyone dies” ending when they reach this alien planet, but that is just because I think it would have been a good tonic against the cheerful ending that the majority of apocalyptic stories foist on it’s viewers, but that's just my opinion. The science for the space part is laughable, even for my admittedly basic knowledge of physics in space – no weightlessness, there’s fire in space, and the ship still needs to use fuel to propel itself forward in space when it is a trip that will only last a few minutes. The set-up explanation for why the rockets have to be built privately do not work, either – everyone except the few doomsayers calculate the incoming trajectory of the star wrong, and that does not make any sense at all. The movie is also badly dated – the concerns regarding whether the rocket would actually work belong in the decade this movie was made, and do not stand up at all.

“When Worlds Collide” is occasionally decent, but time has not been kind to this movie at all – scientific inaccuracies are aplenty, the special effects greatly vary in quality, there are some huge problems with the premises of the movie itself, and future technology has badly dated this movie. 1.5/5.