20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Creature Film  |   Release Date - Jun 1, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Fans of 1950s sci-fi monsters will relish 20 Million Miles to Earth, one of legendary special effects master Ray Harryhausen's earlier efforts. It's a typical genre effort in terms of the script, borrowing liberally from King Kong in its tale of a huge creature brought down for the safety of the human populace. Unlike Kong, however, Miles doesn't develop the characters or the story to create great empathy, preferring for n easier "by the numbers" approach. Like many other sci-fi films of the period, it's also saddled with a cast that doesn't make very much of an impression. William Hopper is the typical stolid hero and Joan Taylor his inevitable, forced-in love interest. Logic doesn't really enter into the actions of the characters, as they instead act in the manner that is most likely to guarantee that the monster escapes and/or wreaks havoc. But ultimately what really matters in Miles is Harryhausen, here doing spectacular work on a limited budget. There's more character development in the speechless creature than in all the human characters put together. From the moment he appears as a baby, rubbing his eyes because the light is too bright, this monster has personality and he captures our attention and our loyalty, even as he's causing destruction. The effects are not as skillful as today's CGI-derived effects, but they pack their own punch.