H.G. Well’s The Shape Of Things To Come (Blu-ray Review)

Shape-Of-Things-To-ComeBlue Underground has deemed its next Blu-ray release to be George McCowan’s film The Shape of Things to Come (1979), starring Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, and Nicholas Campbell. This debut Blu-ray release for the film will feature an all new interview with the film’s star Nicholas Campbell.  It will also have another new interview with the composer of the movie, Paul Hoffert.  Those have been commissioned for this release to go with the other usual things like trailers and photo galleries featuring posters and press images.  The release will be available for purchase on September 27.  This obscurity is likely to be a collector’s item for some and a curiosity purchase for others.


Shape of Things to Come 4


Planet Earth is a devastated wasteland, and what’s left of humanity has colonized the Moon in domed cities. Humanity’s continued survival depends on an anti-radiation drug only available on planet Delta Three, which has been taken over by Omus, a brilliant but mad mechanic who places no value on human life. Omus wants to come to the Moon to rule and intends to attack it by ramming robot-controlled spaceships into the domes. Dr. John Caball, his son Jason, Jason’s friend, Kim, and a robot named Sparks embark on Caball’s space battlecruiser on an unauthorized mission to Delta Three to stop Omus.

In 1977, Star Wars was the ACTUAL shape of things to come with cinema.  It spawned a number of space operatic epics throughout the 1980s (even into the 90s a bit) trying to be the next Star Wars.  We’d see the likes of Krull, Spacehunter and more try their hand at it.  There was also the one we’re talking about today.  This film, titled The Shape Of Things To Come was neither that, nor a real adaptation of the HG Wells book that shares its namesake.  While HG Wells’s name is clearly above the title and its the title of one of his books, it borrows name only.  This film is truly for a good majority, its own monster.

Watching the film apparently even back then, it didn’t look or feel like a movie.  And it really doesn’t.  It has the aesthetic of a television show of the 1970s.  It looks like it has less of a budget than one too.  It has some many constraints, leaving it with such a boring plot.  The film also tries its hand at some effects, designs and robots that just don’t work.  Instead of looking innovative, new, breaking new ground or even just running in place with its contemporaries, Shape looks like its a blast from the past.  And not in some groovy way.  It just looks janky, cheap and uninteresting.

You really feel you’re watching garbage for the whole movie.  Jack Palance is here for probably the classiest or most entertaining bits of the movie, but you can tell they only had film for the better part of a day to shoot all of his scenes.  Poor guy probably had no idea what the rest of this movie surrounding him was.  The pacing drags like hell, the action and dramatics aren’t even close to enough to get through the slower than the slow parts.  What sucks most is that this movie isn’t even funny to sit through.  Its a slug and dull.  I wish it could’ve been so bad its good or a glorious failure, but its neither.  Just plain static.

When I’ve returned to a lot of these Star Wars wannabes of the 70s and 80s, there is a certain charm that came with them.  And sometimes an appreciation for something that it wasn’t before.  A sort of “aging well”.  I really enjoyed the heck out of Krull the last time I revisited it, and I remember not caring much for it as  a wee little one.  Here, we have none of that.  Its just a movie that you’re hoping ends from the moment you realize you’re trapped in some awful 70s tv disguised as a movie that has no idea what it wants to be or how to make it.

Shape of Things to Come 3


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Shape of Things to Come drops on Blu-ray with a pretty solid overall picture.  The image is naturally soft, but it feels Blue Underground is getting the best they can out of this transfer.  Its picture is pretty well cleaned up and does feature some good work on detail, for instance the uniform texture and sewing patterns are a little more present.

Depth:  This one is all right.  Movments are cinematic, decent spacing in environments.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid, with a little bit of a grey tint to it.  No crushing witnessed.  Decent work on shading.

Color Reproduction:  Colors keep to a natural, but don’t get overly vivid or vibrant.  Red on the uniforms sticks out as well as Jack Palance’s purple outfit.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and keep a consistent look throughout the duration of the film.  Facial details prove good in close-up shots and smooth out as the camera moves further back.

Noise/Artifacts: Some grain, specs/dirt

Shape of Things to Come 1


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  A decent 5.1 track that’s sort of light on the big action in your living room area.  It gets the crisper lighter details in the mix right.  Its analog sounding, but cleaned up enough to sound neat.  The blend of vocals, effects and music is done decent enough. 

Low Frequency Extension:  Some explosions, score hits and engines all provide a little bit of bump from the sub woofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This one keeps to the front channels mostly with the rears being used for ambient sound accompaniment and scoring help.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals has a little analog hiss to them, but are clear and clean.

Shape of Things to Come 2


Jason’s Journey (HD, 13:56) – Interview with star Nicholas Campbell.  He’s very candid and isn’t afraid to rag on Harry Alan Towers as he talks about his cheapness, sleaziness and sweatiness.  All that said, he seems to have had fun looking back the experience it and just is aware of what a bad movie it is, but had fun getting to work with some actors and be in a space movie.

Symphonies In Space (HD, 17:04) – Interview with composer Paul Hoffert.  A bit more serious of an interview.  He talks about the film but also goes through his entire history of making music as well.  Hoffert also talks about the oddity that was Harry Alan Towers, and that he kept feeling less secure about the guy the further it went into production.

French Trailer (HD, 1:58) – The French portions are subtitled.

TV Spot (HD, :33) 

Poster & Still Gallery (HD, 2:45) – I won’t completely spoil, but the last picture comes from a pretty popular and commonly bitched about TV show.

Pressbook Gallery (HD, 2:05) – Every page of the press booklet.

Shape of Things to Come 5


While I mention this as a collector’s item to some and a curiosity to others above, I’m not so sure the curious folks should scratch that itch.  At least not at some of the boutique label pricing things can come at.  That’s a statement about the film itself, not the Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray is actually a pretty solid release.  The picture quality is terrific for this film, accompanied by some good audio.  The two new interviews add some fun after viewing the lame-o film and the press packet is an interesting touch.  Those who are fans going in should pick those up, others should screen it before making the decision to purchase.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments