Image Entertainment presents
The Cosmic Man (1959)
"This being must live a world where all is in reverse!"- Dr. Sorenson (Bruce Bennett)
Stars: John Carradine, Bruce Bennet
Other Stars: Angela Greene, Lynn Osborn
Director: Herbert Greene
Manufacturer: Warner Advanced Media Operations
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (very mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:12m:26s
Release Date: 2000-10-17
DVD ReviewDespite the amount of "angry" sci-fi produced in the 50s, a few films actually tried to have deeper messages behind them. By "angry" sci-fi, I mean the kind where the military basically unleashes every weapon it possibly can against an alien foe before they even understand what's going on. Perhaps the best example of deeper sci-fi is The Day The Earth Stood Still, which told a cautionary story of how alien intelligence intervened with mankind's warlike ways. The Cosmic Man is very similar, if not almost exactly like, The Day The Earth Stood Still, in its theme.
The film begins when a strange object lands in an unnamed forest. A group of scientists and military technicians begin to poke and prod at it and discover that the spherical craft is powered by electromagnetics and cannot be moved. The head scientist, Dr. Sorenson (Bruce Bennett) wants to perform thorough tests to figure out where the craft came from, but the military is quick to simply do away with it or to prevent anyone else from getting information. Meanwhile, mysterious reports of a strange being start popping up all over, and Dr. Sorenson suspects it's the pilot of the craft. A stranger who's joined the project is eventually revealed to be this mysterious being (or "Cosmic Man"), played by John Carradine. While the military immediately sees a threat, Sorenson tries to understand what message the Cosmic Man brings about leading the Earth to more peaceful times.
The film isn't bad, especially when compared to other films of the day, but by the same token it's horribly dull. It moves along at an extremely slow pace, mostly consisting of lengthy scenes in which Dr. Sorenson explains his scientific theories in agonizing detail. In fact, the Cosmic Man himself doesn't appear to any great extent until nearly 50 minutes into the film. The result is a story that roots itself firmly in scientific techno-babble in order to feel genuine (at least for the time), but takes too long to build up any steam, especially when it has promised a 'Cosmic Man'. Of course, this means that John Carradine (one of the most underrated sci-fi/horror actors, in my opinion) isn't given anywhere near the screen-time he deserves to make an effective character, which is a big disappointment. Carradine's presence is usually what makes mediocre films of this age bearable.
Awkward subplots are worked in, including a very obvious emotional one about a young boy who's brilliant at science, but has a disease that will insure his death in less than a year̬so, we have a few scenes where Dr. Sorensen humors the boy's intelligence to make him feel better. While the film tries to have anti-war and anti-military themes, they are nowhere near as well-crafted or well-placed as they should be. As I said before, a few "atomic-age" sci-fi films tried to be very socially conscious, and in this case it seems that Cosmic Man was trying to ride in on that kind of vibe, but didn't really have its heart in it.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: While a few scenes seem overly dark, the transfer is very crisp and lacks any kind of digital problems. Image claims the disc was made from a vaulted, original source print, and I see no reason to argue with that. Though there is obvious age, nothing is severe and the few instances of scratches and holes are minor and expected. Despite some of the muddier indoor scenes, there is no background movement or shimmer, which actually surprised me. A high bitrate (8-9mbps) was also used. Another impressive pre-60s transfer from Image.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The single channel Mono is certainly adequate, but nothing amazing. The dialogue and sound effects are clean, though a few sections sound a bit harsh, especially when the loud, orchestral score kicks in. Regardless, the single channel mix is still the way to go, in my opinion, for Mono audio tracks.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Plan 9, Jailbait, RocketshipX-M, more..
Extras Review: There's the original trailer (which is in good condition) and trailers for a few other Image films (the same 6 movies on most of their discs), but nothing else. This isn't really that disappointing, though I had hoped there would have been a gatefold portion with maybe some information on the movie's history.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsThe Cosmic Man isn't awful, bit it's plodding pace might make it tough to wade through, even for big fans of atomic-age films like this. That aside, Image's "Wade Williams" series is shaping up to be one of the most definitive archives of classic sci-fi and horror. Try a rental.
Dan Lopez 2000-10-25