Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969)

JourneyToTheFarSideSunPosterThe future will be one of loud shirts, go go boots, and swinging bachelor pads that look like they were left over from an Italian sex comedy. At least that’s what I got out of this movie. I know, it sounds like Utopia to me, too!

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun tells the very familiar story of what happens when a mysterious planet is found orbiting on the other side of the sun. I say that it’s familiar because the whole parallel universe, mirror universe and alternate world gimmick has been used in about 15 episodes of Star Trek, 25 episodes of The Twilight Zone and thousands of issues of The Uncanny X-Men.

This planet has remained hidden all these years because it is exactly opposite us in its orbit and orbits at exactly the same speed as us, so it’s only natural that we missed the gravitational influence of a tenth planet in our solar system for hundreds of years.

Eurosec (an organization where people with funny accents and bad suits get together to try and trample our God-given rights as Americans) chief Jason Webb arranges it to look like the Commies are already trying to get there, so the Americans hurriedly sign up for a mission to send a spaceship to visit this planet.

The one thing us Americans can get out of this is that when you’re putting up a bazillion dollars for some cockamamie project, we get to have one of our own astronauts on board the flight. And not one of those idiot billionaires that buy their way onto a Russian space trip, but an honest to gosh rocket jockey with a name like Colonel Glenn Ross!

Col. Ross is the most experienced astronaut we’ve got and he has the slick hair do and sunglasses to prove it!

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Col. Ross shows up at Eurosec HQ to go into training for the mission with his beautiful wife Sharon in tow. Sharon is obviously a shrew by her bad attitude and that she keeps telling Glenn that they can’t have children because he’s been in space too long and is sterile, when she’s actually just hiding her birth control pills!

Ross needs a another astronaut to go with him, so Webb decides an astrophysicist is the way to go and picks project leader John Kane. Kane brings a really unflattering short hairdo and sideburns to the table and we get to spend part of the movie watching him train.

The rocket ship finally launches and they fly off into space. Somehow or other, they crash the ship and it blows up a couple of times. Kane saves Ross, causing Kane to take the brunt of the explosion. Kane later dies and Ross is taken by a rescue team and wakes up at Eurosec.

Webb berates him about why he aborted the mission after only getting half way there. See, he returned after only three weeks, but wasn’t the trip supposed to take three weeks to get there? (Left unexplored is the idea that the reverse Earth happened to send its own mission to our Earth at the same time we sent ours.)

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Ross notices other strange things are happening. Everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road. Things are messed up in his futuristic house. The light switches are on the wrong side of the wall. All the labels on his wife’s perfume and birth control are written in reverse.

Even his vital organs are reversed! I bet that made using a toilet there for the first time quite an experience!

Ross reaches the startling conclusion that he did make to the other planet and it is just like Earth only everything is reversed!

The filmmakers realize what a lame idea they’ve come up with and don’t even bother spending any more time with the implications of the mirror world gimmick.

The rest of the movie involves Ross attempting to return to his own Earth which was only marginally more interesting than him landing on the Reverse Earth in the first place.

This is another one of those late sixties sci-fi flicks that tries to be taken seriously with it’s pseudo-science and astronauts piloting bad models. The problem with this movie is that hardly anything happens and when it does (at the end) it doesn’t make much sense.

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We spend half the movie getting ready for the space flight. The bogus politics, the spying, and the training sequences are bland and add little to a movie supposedly about a mysterious planet. Throw in the whole marital problem bit and you begin to wonder exactly what movie you’re watching.

The complete lack of payoff once on the other Earth really sinks things though. After the anticipation about what would be reversed, it’s just stupid, boring run of the mill things like writing and how homes are laid out.

The visual effects in this movie are strictly of the Thunderbirds variety which shouldn’t come as a big surprise since producer Gerry Anderson also worked on those puppet shows.

The effects are ancillary though when your story’s hook fails to land the viewer. This is simply another case where the promise of the film was not delivered. I bet on the far side of the sun though, this movie is awesome!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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