Things to Come ★★★½

William Cameron Menzies's Things to Come is a classic example of a film in which the ideas and themes are truly timeless, whereas the presentation and special effects unfortunately aren't. Eerily prophetic of the destructive future that lay ahead in the dark days of WW2, it predicts the aerial bombardment of London and the subsequent devastation with heavy loss of life that followed.

H. G. Wells was the author of both the original essay and the screenplay itself, thus his involvement in production was notable. As an influential piece of science fiction it retains its importance in film history and does offer come spectacular visuals, including some aerial flight sequences and clever use of miniatures but gets bogged down by lengthy dialogue heavy exposition and intellectual ramblings, usually by its star Raymond Massey whose performance is studious and rather unengaging, in contrast to Ralph Richardson who really takes the opportunity to chew some scenery.

Essential viewing for fans of the genre and one of the most ambitious British productions of the 1930s, it will nonetheless disappoint those hoping for more spectacle. Wells' visions of both dystopian and utopian futures are fascinating when viewed from a present day perspective. The set design and anachronistic gadgetry builds on the legacy that Fritz Lang established in Metropolis though an equal sense of wonder and world building is never quite achieved. Wells' belief in the continuous advancement of technology is also quite worrisome, the idea that mankind must make sacrifices in order to better our scientific endeavours is admirable but irresponsible, thus when the alleged villains of the movie criticise this progress they seem perfectly reasonable.

The surviving print looks superb on blu-ray but suffers from continuity errors and fractured storytelling due to lost footage being missing, of which a more complete version would likely eradicate.

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