So last night instead of going out to the movies, I decided to stay in and watch one of my Netflix as well as watch a movie on Demand if for no other reason than to justify my Netflix membership as well as paying for too many premium channels.
On Netlfix I watched the Day the Earth Caught Fire, a really, really neat low budget sci-fi thriller directed by low budget film director Val Guest who also did movies like 20 Million Miles to Earth. When the U.S. detonates two nuclear bombs at the same time at the North Pole the earth gets shifted on its axis and strange things start happening weatherwise. Then it’s discovered that this actually moved the earth closer to the sun and the world will soon burn up and people will die out.
It’s amazing what can be done on a low budget. The special effects and stock footage were cheesy, sure, but the script was so well written, as well as extremely witty (kudos to Wolf–A Kid for Two Farthings–Mankowitz and Val Guest, the two also worked on Espresso Bongo and Casino Royale together). The acting was top notch, especially Leo McKern as the acidic science writer. But its odd that the lead Edward Judd, who had a Richard Burton quality to him, never had a bigger movie career. The female lead Janet Munroe did, but she died tragically at a young age.
I read something interesting that when Val Guest was writing and working with Woody Allen on Casino Royale (his part of the directing was the Allen scenes), the producer kept editing the script always taking out the punch lines so that Allen’s scenes would build, but have no payoff. Allen was frustrated by this, but Guest just said, don’t worry about it, we’ll shoot it with the punchlines anyway.
After that I switched over to On Demand and saw Evolution, a fun, clever sci-fi film that I don’t remember ever getting a release in the theaters. I was surprised considering the cast of David Dachovny, Julianne Moore and Seann (two n’s–whatever) William Scott (two t’s makes more sense) with cameos by Sarah Silverman and Dan Ackroyd. It’s one of these life forms brought to earth by a meteor, but it’s extremely well told by Dan Jakoby who also worked on Arachnophobia, Lifeforce and the remake of Invaders from Mars, as well as David Weissman. Ivan Reitman directed. The solution to killing the life forms was an element found in the shampoo Head and Shoulders, which has to be one of the cleverest product placements ever.
Julianne Moore’s character was the weak point here. She did little more than keep tripping over her own feet, but there’s a great scene where the three leads go hunting for a flying dinosaur in a mall.