Robots, Science Fiction

The Shape of Things to Come (1979)

Comments Off on The Shape of Things to Come (1979) 15 November 2016


Studio: Blue Underground

Theatrical Release: May 4, 1979 (Canada) 

Blu Ray Release: September 27, 2016

Director: George McCowan


Review by James Klein

Based VERY loosely on the HG Wells novel, The Shape of Things to Come feels like a bad episode of Buck Rogers. While I like my 70’s sci-fi films like Star Crash and Logan’s Run and Battlestar Galactica (not the shitty update, the original series with Lorne Greene) The Shape of Things to Come is a very dull and uneventful movie, with characters standing around talking while doing very little. It’s also a waste of Jack Palance which may be the greatest sin of all. 

Set in the far off future, the human race has set up colonies on the Moon due to Earth now becoming uninhabitable. Omus (Jack Palance) decides to destroy the Moon colonies with his robots and automated ships. Omus is on planet Delta Three that grows a drug that is pivotal to humankind’s survival. Omus threatens to cut off the supply of the drug unless he’s named King. Dr. Caball (Barry Morse from Space 1999) steals a spaceship along with his son, Jason (Nicholas Campbell from The Dead Zone), the daughter of Caball’s superior, Kim (Eddie Benton, aka Anne-Marie Martin from Prom Night); and a repaired robot who Kim has named “Sparks” because he sparked when she dissected it and turned the suicidal robot to a more cutesy Robbie the Robot. 

Our heroes land on Delta Three where they are confronted by radioactive children who are the last survivors of the planet. Jason and Kim and the good doctor are soon captured by Omus whose floating head in the sky was one of the films few highlights. Omus takes his prisoners and subjects them to this deadly noise tone that can kill you, while Omus wears a clear plastic helmet. Yeah I don’t know, this sounds better than it really is. If the actors could have hammed it up a little more or if director George McCowan (Frogs) had a clue that he was directing a dull and plain sci-fi film and tried to make it more exciting, maybe the film would have better. It’s highly doubtful due to the terrible screenplay which was written by several writers. Just look at the cover of the blu ray; it shows robots, and action, and explosions, all of which there are very little of. The Shape of Things To Come could cure insomnia. 

I tried to enjoy this, I really did. The film brought back some nostalgia for me and I really enjoyed the music which was composed by Paul Hoofert (Monkey Shines). The music reminded me of that 70’s futuristic disco sound that was popular for such a brief moment in the late 70’s. I always get a kick out of watching Palance and while he is subdued for most of the film, he finally starts to go nuts during the conclusion. Too little, too late. 

I was pretty critical over the picture quality of Blue Underground’s newest release, Manhattan Baby and while The Shape of Things to Come doesn’t look amazing, it’s still a fairly decent transfer. Presented in its original 1:66:1 ratio, the picture for the most part looks ok but there isn’t a lot of clarity but I feel this is due to the heavy fog filters, a popular trend used by film makers in the late 70’s and early 80’s (just look at Brian De Palma’s Carrie, a perfect example). Night exteriors don’t fair as well as say daytime exteriors with the darker picture looking murky and unclear. It’s hard for me to tell if this is due to the transfer or just the way it was shot so I am giving Blue Underground a pass on this. The blu ray gives viewers the option of listening to the film in the original mono soundtrack or the new 5.1 DTS. I recommend mono as it was easier to hear the dialog. There’s barely any excitement in this film, seems like a 5.1 option was a waste of time if you ask me. 

The disc is short on special features but aside from a TV spot and French trailer, there are two featurettes: Symphonies in Space is an interview with Hoffert and Jason’s Journey is a very candid, no bullshit interview with actor Nicholas Campbell who tells a hilarious story of getting pot for Jack Palance. He also admits that the actors knew they were making a shitty film but tried to have fun with it and do the best they could. Blue Underground normal loads the blu ray up with special features so this, like the film, is a bit of a disappointment. 

Movie Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

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