20 Million Miles To Earth (50th Anniversary Edition) (1957)

Actors: William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia, John Zaremba, Thomas Browne Henry
Directors: Nathan Juran
Format: Black & White, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Original recording remastered, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: 1 (US and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: July 31, 2007
Run Time: 165 minutes



We here at Sci-Fi Movie Page consider ourselves to be cineaste purists of the sort that prefer subtitles to a dubbed English audio track, B&W to color, and so on.

Despite this we soon found ourselves watching this 1957 feature in its newly colorized version instead of its original Black & White. After toggling between the two modes using the Angle button on our remote, we settled on the color version. After all, the colors simply seemed so vibrant and, well, colorful compared to the drab Black & White version.

Considering the film's Sicilian coastal setting it just seems wrong watching the film in monochrome, and it seems right to see special effects legend Ray Harryhausen's space creature in his full-on green scaly glory.

Despite what the title might imply 20 Million Miles to Earth is actually set right here on Earth. Or at least in Italy, as a doomed mission from Venus crash lands off the coast of Sicily. The only two survivors are a pilot (played by William Hopper) and an alien egg that soon hatches to reveal a tiny green half-reptile, half-human creature. The creature soon grows to an enormous size and in true King Kong-style goes on rampage in Rome, almost demolishing the Coliseum in the process.

What differentiates the creature (never mentioned by name but called the Ymir) from other similar alien menaces is the fact that the creature isn't your typical bloodthirsty Alien creature: it only fights back when scared. Ah, the 'Fifties - even its movie monsters were indeed kindler and gentler than our own era's, witness the nasty-spirited recent Aliens vs. Predator 2: Requiem for example.

The stop-motion character - single-handedly animated by Harryhausen - may be dated today, especially when compared to today's CGI marvels, but it still has a character and personality all of its own. Maybe it helps that all the humans in the movie are flat and one-dimensional dullards in comparison. (We particularly liked the natural way in which the Ymir flicks its tail all the time.)

THE DISC: This movie has only been recently colorized, and with original creator Ray Harryhausen's blessing. (Harryhausen admits on the DVD's special features that the film was filmed in Black & White to save on costs and because it made his special effects work easier.) Done using the latest digital processes, colorization has certainly come a long way since Ted Turner started colorizing them for TCM.

That said, things do seem a bit "off" occasionally, like when a character's tan is browner than the shirt he is wearing. The point is however that if you didn't know the film was colorized, you wouldn't have guessed it. Or not as quick as in the old days at least.

Both the color and Black & White versions are stored on the same disc. The second disc is taken up by some cool special features in which directors and admirers of Harryhausen such as John Landis and Tim Burton are interviewed.

WORTH IT? 'Fifties sci-fi aficionados and fans of this movie would want to check out 20 Million Miles to Earth in its new colorized version. We certainly like it and think it brings things in the film to new life again.

NOTE: Our favorite line from the movie is: "Venus? The planet Venus?" Ha-ha!



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