Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Sci-Fi “Invaders From Mars” (1953)–A Sci-Fi Dude Movie Review

“Invaders From Mars” (1953)–A Sci-Fi Dude Movie Review

The title whips up all kinds of wild and fanciful images in the minds of Science Fiction fans. Unfortunately, after seeing the movie, the only thing that my imagination whips up is a feeling of joy that it’s over.

When I sit down to watch a classic Science Fiction movie I’ve never seen before, I have high hopes but a bit of trepidation as well. Many of the classics from the 1950’s (the “Golden Age” of Science Fiction) are superb…others, not so much. Sadly, I must include 1953’s Invaders From Mars as the latter. I know many Science Fiction fans saw this movie when they were kids. However, I didn’t. I suppose if I had, I would feel different. After all, the story is told from a child’s perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. I am truly a fan of classic Science Fiction movies. But I won’t hype a film just because it was made long enough ago to be considered a classic.

Invaders From Mars , directed by William Cameron Menzies, has many problems. To begin with the story felt incomplete, like they were in a hurry to make the movie even if the writers weren’t finished with it yet. Martians land, take over people, make them destroy things and try to murder others because…well, we’re never told why. I guess the Martians simply didn’t like the way Earth looked as they were traveling by and decided to wreck havoc on us. Oh, and, we never know for sure if the aliens are from Mars (unless you simply believe it because the title says so). When the Army gets involved, they believe the Martian invasion story way too easily…as if they were expecting it and waiting for it to happen.

The story is very slow in the beginning, taking too long to set the story up with to many different “abductions”. The middle, though not long time-wise, seemed to take forever as we’re deluged by continuous stock footage of tanks being readied…to take on the Martian threat. The last third of the movie does move quicker with some action scenes and a sense of urgency. But when we finally see the Martians, it’s very obvious that it’s just men in loose fitting, green costumes. If you look closely, you can see the zipper going down their backs.

I did like the Martian “Supreme Being” who is basically a green head and shoulders with tentacles flowing out from both sides. The shifty eyes were really sinister and engaging. The “Supreme Being” is the only thing about the Martians that seemed more than just quickly thrown together to get the movie going.

The acting was so-so as the supporting cast left a lot to be desired. The expressions looked truly forced, and in delivering the lines, they actually seemed to be trying too hard. There were performances by some that were good. They delivered their lines with believability and passion. The father (Leif Erickson), the mother (Hillary Brooke) and the psychologist (Helena Carter) all portrayed their characters very well. Of course, these were the stars.

The ending was particularly disappointing:

Just before the alien ship blows up, everybody runs for their life. Young David (Jimmy Hunt) has flashbacks as he runs and runs and runs and runs….

Finally, David is suddenly awakened from sleep during a storm and looks out of his bedroom window just in time to see a strange, glowing craft crash near his backyard (the exact same scene as in the beginning). He realizes it was just a dream.

Maybe in 1953 the fact that the whole thing turns out to be a dream was acceptable. But today, it makes me feel like I was cheated, like I was lured in with blown-up promises and then told it was all a lie.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t so acceptable. The ending was re-shot for the British version. In it, the whole thing was not a dream. Instead, the boy’s parents were going to be okay and it was all over. Why? Because they didn’t think the Europeans would accept it as a dream.

Overall, Invaders From Mars was decent entertainment but left a lot to be desired. Though there were some saving graces, they’re not enough for me to recommend it…unless you’re a fan of not-so-good Science Fiction movies from the 1950’s.

My rating: 2/5

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