Perhaps the most notable thing about this film is that it stars Michael Rennie.
It sounds quite promising: a cyborg is sent back from the future to try to prevent a dangerous new invention from creating the oppressive future world that built him.
This is, of course, a familiar sort of time travel plot, one we’ve seen many, many times before, and it does try to handle its temporal paradoxes seriously – and for the most part succeeds – although the final, ironic paradox was done far more poignantly just three years earlier on The Outer Limits.
Rennie is obviously there to cash in on his legendary role as Klaatu, the alien emisary in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and plays a fairly similar role: a seemingly emotionless cyborg who finds himself changed by his feelings for the young doctor he encounters. He looks far older than he did in 1951 – old enough that his supposed role as the romantic lead seems a little unlikely. Sadly the part gives him little to do.
Rennie made over fifty films (as leading man and then in his later years as a supporting actor) and yet, while he did appear on a number of SF TV shows (including Lost in Space and The Invaders), this was his only other SF film. Okay, okay, there was his final film, Assignment Terror (1970), which involves aliens and ripoffs of the classic Universal Horror monsters. But I’m sure he’d have wanted to forget it, too.
On the whole, it’s watchable, if a little flat. The city of the future is restricted to a single, unconvincing, matte painting and two sets; most of the film takes place in the modern world; his time capsule just appears and disappears with no fanfare;there are some minimal make up effects and rayguns. Oh, and a classic Hollywood ghost town, complete with its own stock Western desert rat. Somehow (probably thanks to one time Republic serials director, Franklin Adreon) it managed to collect an impressive collection of serial, TV and B-movie bit players, who give it a solidity that a lot of films that cost far more lacked.
However, the scenes involving dancing teens and rock music seem out of place, stuck in with the hope that they’d attract a younger audience.
I’m not sure that ever worked.