In 1951, Monogram would release Flight to Mars – essentially an episode of Star Trek before Star Trek was even a thing. That is not a slight in any way either as it has stood up fairly well given the amount of time that has passed since its original release. There is a bit of it that is a little dated and a couple of scenes that can be called silly but all in all, the film holds a person’s interest from beginning to end which is more than a lot of movies can claim.
The movie, as one might guess, details a flight to the Red Planet. A group of astronauts along with a reporter head on out into space, looking forward to what they might discover when they run into a meteor storm, forcing them to crash upon the surface of the planet. To make matters worse, a landslide covers most of the ship though luckily, there is one opening that allows them to escape their busted ship. Not soon after, they meet the local inhabitants who are all but human and are taken to their underground city where they learn of the people, their city and the mineral Corium which might be able to get them home again should they be able to fix their ship. The people of Mars are only too happy to help and yet, when those from Earth are out of earshot, the true intentions of the Council that rules the planet are made known.
Directed by Lesley Selander, the man takes a very methodical approach to the material and as such, the pace moves along none too briskly. For some, they might find this a turn-off but this film was made in the early 1950s and science-fiction for the most part was not all spaceships and shoot ’em-ups. Sometimes they were pieces that made a person think and in others, simple drama such as this one. More than anything, this movie was about the relationships between the people as they made their way on a trip that none had taken previously and the troubles that would follow. Meeting the men and women of Mars as well as developing relationships with them was added drama and all of it worked well as those from Earth had to learn to maneuver in ways they were not quite used to.
When it came to special and practical effects, there was little that was needed but when used, they were decent enough to paint the picture of a futuristic society that would be able to live beneath the surface of a planet. As a whole, Flight to Mars was not the biggest spectacle nor the most exciting of movies and there are none that can claim it to be so but it made for a good time and between the story and those who would bring it to life, it was perfect matinee fodder.
3 out of 5