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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Aliens > Post Apocalyptic > Ice Age > Zombies > Genetic Engineering > Satire > After Earth (2013/Sony DVD)/The Colony (2013/Image Blu-ray)/The Final Programme (1973/aka The Last Days Of Man On Earth/Network U.K. Region 2 PAL Import DVD)/I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958

After Earth (2013/Sony DVD)/The Colony (2013/Image Blu-ray)/The Final Programme (1973/aka The Last Days Of Man On Earth/Network U.K. Region 2 PAL Import DVD)/I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958/Paramount/Warner Archive DVD)/Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz (2013/Hardcover/Titan Books)

Picture: C+/B-/C+/C+ Sound: C+/B-/C+/C Extras: C-/C-/C+/D Films: D/C-/C+/C Book: B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Final Programme Import DVD will only play on DVD players capable of Region 2 PAL playback and is only available from Network U.K., while I Married A Monster From Outer Space is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Now for a mix of Science Fiction releases that were all mostly different than expected...

The big question about M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth (2013) is if it could be worse than his train wreck of a film The Last Airbender (2010). Pairing up with Will Smith, the biggest box office star in the world until recently, plus his son Jaden who could be a rising star, what would be the result. With a post-apocalyptic science fiction scenario, this was a big chance for Shyamalan to make a comeback and Jaden Smith to build on his Karate Kid success. So what happened?

Along with Lone Ranger, we have here what might be the worst film of 2013. At first, I thought it might get better after some initially phony establishing moments, but instead, it just got worse and worse and worse and worse. It is as if they combined Last Airbender with Travolta's idiotic Battlefield Earth and the angriest, phoniest, anti-child episode of The Cosby Show ever made and made it worse. Jaden whines too much, which was fine in Pursuit Of Happyness, but he's too old to repeat that behavior here. Will Smith looks asleep most of the time (though no match for the few audience members who paid to see this as it bombed at theaters worldwide) and the idea of the son as reluctant warrior who suddenly performs martial arts effectively all the sudden is a joke.

Sophie Okonedo and Zoe Kravitz are among the cast of mostly unknowns in underwritten roles and despite all the money on screen, this is a simple stuck-in-a script (Will the father is ill and has to advise his son how to go into action, if only he would listen to him...) and the whole thing is an embarrassing mega-vanity project that should have never happened, is the nadir of all involved, will hurt the Smiths in the short term and is yet more evidence (the kind Hollywood keeps ignoring) that Shyamalan is beyond out of ideas. What a yawner!!!

Extras include 3 Making Of featurettes: A Father's Legacy, 1,000 Years In 300 Seconds and The Nature Of The Future.

Barely better but not as intelligence insulting by any means, Jeff Renfroe's The Colony (2013) is another film where earth has a natural disaster permanently ruining it (After Earth had the planet now hostile to humans, much like the film itself) and here, the survivors have to deal with humans gone mad and even become neo-ice age zombies. (Ooops... hope I just did not inspire another bad film.) So Bill Paxton shows up in the beginning and end with people holding their own in a secret space and Lawrence Fishburne lands up in battles in between.

Though third-billed, Kevin Zegers (Transamerica, Wrong Turn) is the actual lead and he is not bad, but not great, yet is not given much to do as the script quickly flattens out and gives us everything we have seen a few hundred times of late. A few moments are interesting, but this runs 94 minutes and needed about 90 more good ones.

Extras include Cast/Crew Interviews and a Behind The Scenes featurette.

More ambitious and intelligent than those duds is Robert Fuest's The Final Programme (1973, aka The Last Days Of Man On Earth), a darkly comic Science Fiction tale also set in post-apocalyptic times where a billionaire scientist (Jon Finch) hunts down lost cloning information only to find out someone is out to create a new kind of human that can survive the suddenly darker future. Before this revelation is revealed, we get plenty of witty, sardonic vignettes with eccentrics, goofs and a few people who may be outright dangerous, but the screenplay by Fuest (based on the Michael Morecock book) wants to be Dr. Strangelove down to casting Sterling Hayden.

However, even with a fine supporting cast, the film has not aged well, is more of a time capsule than when I last saw it years ago and though the film print used does not do justice to the work of Director of Photography Norman Warwick (The Last Valley, The Kids Are Alright, Son Of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Fuest's The Abominable Dr. Phibes) captures the great production design and look intended, but the film never delivers the impact or message intended. However, for serious film and science fiction fans, they should see it once for all the moments that work and the irony of certain scenes.

Extras include a DVD-ROM PDF of the original U.K. Press Kit, which is very well made, while the DVD adds a full screen 1.33 X 1 version of the film that is softer, Still Gallery, U.K. & Italian Trailers and the original Italian opening of the film. Oddly and sadly, it is missing the terrific feature length commentary with Fuest, lead actress Jenny Runacre and the writer Johnathan Sothcott which appeared on the U.S. Anchor Bay DVD 12 years ago. However, this needs restored, upgraded with a proper color print and maybe a few more extras, so we'll see, but at least this version is now in print and worth a look despite tis flaws.

Gene Fowler Jr.'s I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) may be a fun and unintentionally funny B-movie celebrating its 55th Anniversary, but I is still more competent than most of the films in its genre lately, as shown in this text. A young woman (Gloria Talbott) is ready to enjoy being happily married in the suburbs when she realizes something is wrong with her husband. As we see, he has ben taken over by a disturbing, violent force that turns out to be an alien!

Even worse, the same fate is happening to men all over town as the invader/visitors are doing this to breed and survive. The town is (of course) slow to realize this, but a smart doctor (Ken Lynch in a fun turn) is more open to things and eventually the ugly truth starts to become apparent, even if I not in time for some of the locals.

The visual effects are not always great, but not bad and do not need to be massively impressive, especially since this is a mystery thriller. That helps it hold up, but the actors, hilarious music and portrayal of the early suburbs with nice black and white filming, it is a fun film back in print just in time for Halloween 2013.

There are sadly no extras.

Finally we have a nice coffee table hardback book, Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz (2013) which has the artist imagine all the episodes of the classic, original 1960s TV series as theatrical film releases, down to imitating art styles of the period. The results are fun, especially the more you know each episode (now all on Blu-ray, which you can read more about elsewhere on this site) and also reminded me at times of the posters for Man From U.N.C.L.E. films cut from episodes (with some added content) that MGM put into theaters at the time. The art itself is impressive and even non-fans will be entertained. A nice idea rendered well, it makes you want to see more of Ortiz's work. Titan image reproduction is top rate too, as usual.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Colony is stylized and has plenty of CG visual effects, including too many that are obvious, yet it is the best visual performer on the list and it is hard to tell if an Earth Blu-ray could surpass it or not, though a Programme Blu-ray from a real dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film would likely top both. His is fine for what it is, but nothing special or visually memorable is presented, though that is a picnic as compared to the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Earth which is softer, has more digital visual work and is more junked in its mise-en-scene. Shyamalan's films don't have the vivid look they used to have, but that is decline for you.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 on Programme (despite a print that looks like the same master we've seen already with softness and limited color, but certainly not a real Technicolor print like the ones originally issued on the film) and anamorphically enhanced black and white 1.85 X 1 image on Monster (which has its sharp moments, but I wish it had more) are more than the equal of Earth.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Colony is the best sonic presentation here too, but it can be more towards the front channels and not as consistent as one would expect. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Earth is even weak and tends to count too much on its .1 LFE subwoofer channel, though I wonder if the lossless Blu-ray track would. As a result, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Programme, sounding good for tis age and with its still-interesting editing, can compete. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Monster the oldest entry here, showing its age, well recorded, but this version is sadly a generation down and too low in playback.

As noted above, you can order The Final Programme DVD import exclusively from Network U.K. at:


and to order I Married A Monster From Outer Space DVD via the Warner Archive, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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