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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Monster > Alien > Adventure > Thriller > Stop Motion > 20 Million Miles To Earth 50th Anniversary Edition (Double DVD Set)

20 Million Miles To Earth 50th Anniversary Edition (Double DVD Set)


Picture: B-/C- Sound: B- Extras: A Movie: A



Critics often use the word "classic" too easily when referring to the films they discuss. Anyone discussing 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) need not worry about the misappropriation of the term, or any other hyperbolic statements, because TMME represents the very essence of 1950s science fiction. It combined what at the time was state-of-the-art effects with a dynamic script that elicits equal parts sympathy and horror for one of cinema's most distinctive movie monsters, the Ymir.


Brought to Earth as an embryonic specimen, the Ymir quickly grows too large for its own good, and rampages around Southern Italy getting into all sorts of trouble. The product of cinema legend Ray Harryhausen, the effects in this film feature his unique brand of stop-motion magic. The Ymir's rampage through Rome is priceless, but it's his death duel with the rogue circus elephant that always sticks in my mind as the signature scene of the film. The juxtaposition of the more mundane elephant against the fantastic reptilian Ymir provides a powerful visual, and what a battle it is!


This newly re-mastered two-disc set packs plenty of fun and loads of extras. Most important to note is the option to watch the film in either its original black and white or in a colorized version in anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 presentation, and viewers can even easily toggle back and forth between the two versions. The B&W picture quality on this disc is superb, but the colorized version is a bit dodgy. As with any feature colorized after the fact, some of the sequences just don't feel right, and the colorization process creates a softness in the images that you don't notice when watching the B&W. The Westrex Recording System sound was optical mono and is still mono on this DVD, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono here, but still won't hamper the viewer's enjoyment of the film.


The extras packed into this release will impress even the most jaded DVD fans. The highlight of this amazing assemblage of added content is Tim Burton's talk with Ray Harryhausen. These two masters of movie animation share some wonderful moments, and Burton's respect for the master Harryhausen is evident. Other extras include a featurette entitled Remembering 20 Million Miles to Earth, a nifty documentary about the film and its storied history, a short piece on the colorization process, an interview with star Joan Taylor, a comic book, a piece on the film's music, video photo galleries, and original advertising artwork for the film.


Fans often see 20 Million Miles to Earth as just a great 1950s sci-fi romp, but there is also a sadness about the movie that harkens back to King Kong. The Ymir didn't ask to be brought far from home, and Harryhausen's amazing animation of the creature's facial expressions communicates his rage and confusion as remarkably as many actors could. The Ymir really is a stranger in a strange land, and although he must die so that humanity can live, one can't help but feel sadness for his plight. That's what makes this film great. This 50th Anniversary Edition of 20 Million Miles to Earth brings all of the thrills and excitement back in a package befitting what might be the best sci-fi film of the 1950s.



- Scott Pyle


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