(director: George Pal; screenwriters: David Duncan/based on the novel by H.G. Wells; cinematographer: Paul C. Vogel; editor: George Tomasini; music: Russell Garcia; cast: Rod Taylor (George Wells), Alan Young (David Filby/James Filby), Yvette Mimieux (Weena), Sebastian Cabot (Dr Philip Hillyer), Whit Bissell (Walter Kemp); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: G; producer: George Pal; Warner Home Video; 1960)

“A colorful special effects film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

George Pal (“Tom Thumb”/”Atlantis, the Lost Continent”/”Seven Faces of Dr. Lao”) makes this a colorful special effects film, based on the 1895 novel by H.G. Wells, that is almost ruined by its funeral pace and flat dramatics. The Victorian time travelling pic gives the viewer an imaginative peak of life in 800,000 A.D.. David Duncan is the screenwriter, who leaves too much of it as dull fare.

It opens with a London dinner party on the New Year’s Eve of 1899, where five prominent men meet with their mutual friend, the scientist George Wells (Rod Taylor). George tells his more practical staid friends that he invented a time machine and gives them a demo. But the friends are more interested in science for profit than science to benefit humanity and the pacifist George leaves his friends to their profiteering over the Boer war to take off in the future in his time machine. George will observe the tragedy of two World Wars (during WW1 his best friend David Filby (Alan Young) dies) and notes that nukes end the world in 1966. In 802,701 George descends onto a Garden of Eden, with the passive antisocial eternally young people called the Eloi its inhabitants, but as a side effect the English speaking Eloi have lost their independence and curiosity. When George speaks with the beautiful blonde Weena (Yvette Mimieux), he finds out that the Eloi are nourished by their cannibalistic rulers, a subterranean hideous race of hairy green monsters with glowing eyes and snaggle teeth called Morlocks. So much for George’s ideals, as he resorts to becoming a warrior to emancipate the slaves before returning home in his flying saucer.

It retains the harsh Victorian period setting and is mostly a faithful adaptation of the Wells’ novel, but it ignores the novel’s attacks on the British class system.

REVIEWED ON 10/6/2008 GRADE: B    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/