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Project X (1968) - Movie Review

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Project X 1968 - Movie Review

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3 stars

William Castle’s collaboration with Hanna-Barbera (the home of Huckleberry Hound and Space Ghost and a whole gallery of other characters) might be a bit too static with a dialogue-heavy script, but that doesn’t stop it from being a cerebrally tingling science fiction excursion into the recess of the human mind.  Yes, Project X has little chance against today’s CGI and, with chances even higher that you’ve never even heard of it, it will probably get bungled up with the other two movies titled Project X.

Allow me to help with your confusion, it isn’t the chimpanzee movie and it isn’t about a block party gone bananas.  Adapted from a novel by Leslie P. Davies, this Project X is about a future society trying to learn nuclear weapon secrets from spy Hagen Arnold (Christopher George) after he is awoken from suspended animation.  They’ve recreated his world to match a violent 1968 and keep him under around the clock observation by making him believe (and act) like a bank robber.

All the scientists – including Doctor Crowther (Henry Jones) – have roles in this recreated reality, but no one can guarantee they’ll get the information they are looking for and stop the ruthless Asian despot Sen Chiu (Keye Luke).  They just have to keep the charade up and hope that the truth eventually comes out.  When rogue agent  Gregory Gallea (Monte Markham) appears in the alternate reality, the pressure to discover the truth of what Arnold knows becomes more than some can handle…including the subjects.

Project X has the gusto to be as confusingly intricate as a Philip K. Dick story (and I am not talking the Philip K. Dick adaptations presented in I Robot and the like).  The central idea revolves and ends around the brain and the consequences of tampering with memories in the hope of preservation.  It’s not laser gun and car chase material worthy of a rousing action spectacle.  In fact, much of Project X resembles that of classic Star Trek episodes and - because this also was released by Paramount Pictures – one can practically see the spot where Captain Kirk fought the Gorn with fist and rock.

Filmed on a studio owned ranch and a studio sound stage, there’s no denying that it’s the product of the late 1960’s and, because Planet of the Apes had done so well at the box office, all eyes fell on this film to capitalize on the burgeoning science fiction world of cinema.  I’m sure the producers were disappointed, but fans of Johnny Quest won’t be.

Wait.  What?

Yes, Johnny Quest.  Here’s why.  When Arnold is plugged into the brain-scanning machine, the animation talents of Hanna-Barbera step in for sequences that are very, very, very recognizable.  These psychedelic memories – using silhouetted and solarized live-action animation – compromises about 15 minutes of the actual movie and, buried under a glaze of shapes and mental floss stringy things, looks about as dated as it seems…even for the late 1960s.  Audiences had seen this type of thing before in Fantastic Voyage and with Johnny Quest off the air, I’m sure nothing but laughter issued forth from audiences.

So…the future looks like cardboard walls, clean dirt roads, and Johnny Quest.  Any questions?  Project X, not that science fiction authors haven’t been plugging our brains into walls for years before 1968, seems to be – cinematically – the forerunner to Keanu Reeves’ career with its Johnny Mnemonic and The Matrix-like concepts kicking about.

For audiences disappointed by today’s attempts at science fiction lore (insert In Time), Project X marks the spot.  It’s an interesting concept wrapped up in a talky script that – in my honest opinion – is ripe for a remake.

Please?

{2jtab: Film Details}

Project X 1968 - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: This film has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: William Castle
Writer: Edmund Morris
Cast: Christopher George; Monte Markham; Harold Gould; Greta Baldwin; Henry Jones
Genre: Sci-fi | Classic
Tagline:
It Happened In This Universe A Long Time Ahead, The Year 2118...
Memorable Movie Quote: ""
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 1968
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 19, 2012

Synopsis: A spy is brought back from cryogenic suspension after being almost killed in a plane crash returning from a mission to learn about a deadly new weapon being developed in the East. But the vital memories are being suppressed, so the authorities use ultra-advanced technologies to try to uncover the secret.

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Project X 1968 - Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 19, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Courtesy of Olive Films, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer – presented in 1.78:1 – is a relatively clean and pristine movie watching experience.  The years have been kind considering its neglected status.  It wasn’t shown much in theaters and has been out of circulation for awhile before getting picked up by Olive Films.  Overall, the colors are bright and bold – albeit with your typical ‘60s-type saturation levels (which I don’t mind) – and the black levels are fairly consistent.  The image has a nice level of grain and there are but a few moments of dirt and debris on the print.  Some images appear to be soft which could be a result from the actual print itself being out of focus and not an problem with the actual encode.  The sound – presented here in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix – is decent enough to match the picture, but don’t expect miracles.  It’s enough to add a bit of gusto to Van Cleave’s deliciously whacked out jazzy-electro funk score.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Olive Films has yet to add supplemental material to any of their releases.

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