Monday, March 23, 2015

Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival 2015 Day #06: Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150

I intended to do the Dr. Who double feature, but got off the train and discovered that I had misplaced the festival pass/ticket I had picked up on Friday. It was no big deal - I actually had that one because I had forgotten to bring the one I had printed out when purchasing a pass on-line - so I opted to head home and grab that, after a stop at the comic shop, I picked that up, put it in a lanyard and headed back for part 2.

No big deal there; I saw Dr. Who and the Daleks a couple of years ago at the Brattle. The interesting thing was, as soon as that popped up, there was demand to have it at the Marathon the next year, and I argued that it would be kind of tacky to do that sort of repeat. It was announced anyway, but didn't wind up on the final schedule (a documentary on the series and its fans was canceled because of weather), and I always wondered what happened there.

Semi-random thought: I would kind of like to see this offshoot of the franchise revisited somehow. I'm no particular supporter of fan-films, but I might be convinced to make an exception here, especially if Roberta Tovey were to come out of apparent retirement to reprise Susan as the current Dr. Who traveling with her own grandchildren. This would also be a fun crossover with the current series in a parallel-universe crossover story. Probably more feasible in the comics, though, since you could use Cushing's and Tovey's likenesses there and just pick up where the movies left off, perhaps with the unfilled version of "The Chase".

(I'm available and would work cheap, Titan!)

Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 11 February 2015 in Somerville Theatre #2 (SF/40, DCP) & 22 March 2015 in Jay's Living Room (refresh, DVD)

I'm curious what would have happened had Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. been the hit its producers had hoped for. Would the "Dr. Who" film series have overshadowed the television series, or would they have boosted each other? Would it have moved on from Peter Cushing in the same way the character was reinvented every few years on television? No way to tell; this second film in the franchise was the last to be produced for theaters until 2013's Day of the Doctor, which was part of the original series rather than an offshoot. Like its predecessor Dr. Who and the Daleks, it's a fun alternate take on the series and not a bad Sixties sci-fi movie in its own right.

Once again, Dr. Who (Cushing) is taking his time-and-space machine built into a police call box out for a new adventure, this time heading for 2150 AD with granddaughter Susan (Roberta Tovey), niece Louise (Jill Curzon), and Tom (Bernard Cribbins), a policeman who thought he was jumping into an ordinary phone booth. Once then, though, they find that the planet has been invaded by the Daleks, cruel aliens so encased in armor that they look like robots. They are occupying London and enslaving humans, either to work in a nearby mine or as "Roboman" enforcers, though there is also a dogged resistance.

The movie starts with a cold opening that the current iteration of the television series would really tip their caps to - start looking like a cops-and-robbers movie, throw the main character for a loop when he stumbles into something strange, sending the action off in another direction. Things continue in that same vein in the future, with director Gordon Flemyng keeping the script by Milton Subotsky (adapting Terry Nation's original BBC teleplays) moving at a brisk pace, especially while concentrating on action that is fairly intense for being intended for kids. Flemyng and company single a bit later on when they veer into slapstick territory; it's well-executed but arguably misplaced in a movie that had been driving forward at a good clip. There's also a sense that Subotsky struggled in the second half, when one can see characters and subplots being added and just a as quickly discarded (perhaps a remnant of the original serial structure) while plot holes are waved away a bit too vigorously.

Full review at EFC.

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