October 13, 2010

DVD Review: The Power

Before David Cronenberg popped heads in Scanners, before the mutant powers of Professor X (X-Men), before Drew Barrymore let loose with pyro in Firestarter, even before Sir Alec Guinness told us what droids we weren't looking for, there was The Power, released in 1968, to bring the powers of telekinesis to the big screen. The movie seems to have been largely forgotten by the mainstream audiences. Well, at least I had never heard of it before now, not that that means anything. In any case, it is now back out there waiting to be discovered thanks to Warner Brothers and their Warner Archive line.

The film, directed by Byron Haskin (War of the Worlds), tells the story of a man with telekinetic powers whose existence is threatened when he discovers that there is another with powers that could rival his own. Of course, this new person is not quite aware of the abilities he possesses and we are not informed of who this villain is until much later in the film.

As the story begins we are introduced to Dr. Jim Tannen (Georg Hamilton, who coincidentally shows where Rod Blagojevich go his hair inspiration from). He is the head of a special group researching pain limits on men for space exploration. Furthermore, Tannen must deal with a new governmental liaison played by Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still), who is unfamiliar with what they are doing there.

It does not take long for the action to be set into motion. Tannen comes under fire as all record of who he is suddenly turns up fraudulent. Of course it isn't, but whoever the villain is has Tannen in his crosshairs and  is intent on flushing him out.

Well, I make that sound as if our villain is operating right out in the open, and that just isn't the case. The majority of the film follows Tannen and his squeeze (and fellow doctor) Margery Lansing (played by the lovely Suzanne Pleshette) as they run around narrowly escaping assassination attempts as they try to figure out who this telekinetic superman is. All of it leading up to that final climactic showdown between the forces of good and evil.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat entertained, I was, but the movie itself feels too dragged out, not to mention a story that fails to really dig into anything. It is all about the chase and nothing else. It would have been nice if they dug into motivations or implications that such powers would bring. Hamilton does a fine job of keeping the man on the run portion interesting and the score by Miklos Roszas is suitably creepy with its liberal use of the hammer dulcimer.

Still, it has its charms but it is not really enough to make this a recommended movie. As is a little trimming would have helped the pace, they could have started with that party sequence in the middle.

Audio/Video. The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and comes complete with its original mono audio track. The tech side of the coin is quite good. The film is showing its age and has a distinctly 60's look but the colors and detail levels are good. The mono track, likewise, does a fine job, particularly with the score. I loved it when the hammer dulcimer would kick in.

Extras. Nothing. The disk barely has a title menu!

Bottomline. Genre fans looking for something obscure will likely want to check this out. It is entertaining enough for the curious but not enough to reward revisits.

Mildly Recommended.

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Article first published as DVD Review: The Power (1968) on Blogcritics.


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