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Based upon the novel The Shape Of Things To Come by H.G. Wells, THINGS TO COME ($25) is truly one of most visionary science fiction movies of the first half of the twentieth century. Released in 1936, THINGS TO COME predicts a global conflict akin to the Second World War that lasts more than three decades, which practically pushes mankind back into the dark ages. Fortunately, a group of rational scientists survive the conflict and through their leadership, the devastated society is rebuilt and begins its progress towards a futuristic utopia. Only as mankind makes its first attempts at the conquest of space, do the more humanistic sectors of society begin to cry out that science has begun to move too far and at too rapid a pace.

THINGS TO COME has more in common with recent science fiction films that it does with other genre films made before the 1970s. Wells' story depicts a society in ruins that is reminiscent of films like THE ROAD WARRIOR, but THINGS TO COME also depicts a future with flying cars and immense video screens like we find in BLADE RUNNER. For its day, THINGS TO COME features surprisingly sophisticated special effects work that shows an incredible mechanized utopia, as well as a horrible war that reduces cities to rubble. The performances in THINGS TO COME are all strong, although I do admit that some of the dialogue is a bit leaden, which the cast does manage to overcome. The cast of THINGS TO COME features Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson, Margueretta Scott, Cedric Hardwicke, Maurice Braddell, Sophie Stewart and Derrick De Marney.

Image Entertainment has made THINGS TO COME available on DVD in a fine looking 1.33:1 black and white presentation. The film element used for the transfer is in very good shape, although there are a couple of rough spots that show some heavy blemishing. Fortunately, these rough spots are very few and last only a couple of seconds each. Minor blemishes and scratches do show up from time throughout the rest of the presentation, but they are never too distracting. The black and white image on the DVD is about the best that I've ever seen for THINGS TO COME. Sharpness and detail are reasonably good for a foreign film from this period, and the picture is pretty pleasing. Some shots are a bit dark and lack fine details, but nothing comes across as muddy. Blacks are deep and solid, plus contrast is fairly smooth and the whites appear stable. Film grain is noticeable throughout, but it is never too objectionable. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile throughout.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is quite good for a film of this vintage. Hiss, pops and clicks seem to have been cleaned up, plus the dialogue is always intelligible. Musical fidelity is limited and some of the more boisterous musical passages can sound a bit distorted.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection feature, as well as a U.S. theatrical trailer and a few "hidden" trailers.

THINGS TO COME is a science fiction classic that has come to DVD in a good-looking presentation. Genre fans will definitely want to check out this disc.

H.G. Wells - Things to Come



DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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