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H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come

2.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Feb 11, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The time is the tomorrow after tomorrow, and mankind has now populated the Moon where vast domed cities have been built on what was once a wasteland. But when power-mad Emperor Omus (Oscar winner Jack Palance of "City Slickers") attacks the lunar colony of New Washington, a team of scientists led by Dr. John Caball ("Space: 1999's" Barry Morse) launches a dangerous mission to destroy the dictator and his robot army. Can three daring space jockeys and one renegade robot save their universe from the dark forces of intergalactic evil? Carol Lynley (Vigilante), Nicholas Campbell (The Dead Zone) and John Ireland (Spartacus) co-star in this epic science-fiction adventure directed by George McCowan (Frogs) and inspired by H.G. Wells' visionary novel that takes you beyond the frontiers of space, where man's future is limited only by his imagination!


H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come is so deliriously bad that it begs inclusion in any collection of 1970s kitsch. It's a disco-flavored variant of TV's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century--just another no-budget rider on the coattails of Star Wars. Only a fool would perceive even a slight connection to Wells's classic novel, to which this misleadingly titled cheese-fest is ostensibly a sequel. Their careers in sorry decline, Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse (late of TV's Space: 1999), and John Ireland look embarrassed as they wrestle with a wearisome post-apocalyptic plot that pitches Morse, a pair of Ken-and-Barbie heroes, and their quirky robot (of course) against megalomaniac emperor Palance, who controls a drug needed for survival of moon-based colonists. Prior to directing this laughable mess, George McCowan had helmed episodes of several prominent TV action series of the '70s, but here he devolves into moribund hackwork. This is a ham sandwich sans bread, from a time when stale sci-fi was spreading like mold on George Lucas's leftovers. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • French Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Poster & Still Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, Nicholas Campbell
  • Directors: George McCowan
  • Writers: H.G. Wells, Joseph Glazner, Martin Lager, Mike Cheda
  • Producers: Harry Alan Towers, John Danylkiw, William Davidson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007L4MA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,944 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on October 5, 2004
Format: DVD
Up until I saw "The Shape of Things to Come," I thought Joe D'Amato's hysterically atrocious "Troll 2" was the best "so bad it's good" film out there. Well, I still believe that, but this movie comes in a close second. I suspect if you watched both films as a double feature, your head would explode under the endless assault of numerous scenes loaded with bad dialogue, ridiculous overemoting, and impenetrable plot points murkier than a cup of black coffee. This is a film so mind meltingly horrible, so offensive to every cinematic sensibility, that only lovers of bad movies who have fortified themselves beforehand should venture into this challenging territory. And even then I am not sure you will emerge unscathed on the other side. "Hey," I'm hearing people say, "How could a film starring Jack Palance and Barry Morse--set in a future where radiation from a series of robot wars wiped out the planet earth--be so bad?" That's a good question, grasshoppers. A very good question that I asked myself before setting out on this mission. The answer, the particulars of which lie ahead, sums up as follows: It's bad because the filmmakers took their effort seriously. It's also great because the filmmakers took their effort seriously. Read on.

I have no doubt, from the detailed plot set up and seriousness of every actor involved, that "The Shape of Things to Come" was meant to be a film that would rival Lucas's "Star Wars" in the science fiction genre. Heck, the film supposedly is based on a story by H.G. Wells, a fact the title boasts about. Thank goodness Wells never saw this nightmare; he might have stopped writing. As far as I could tell, the plot goes something like this: a series of robot wars went nuclear, thus rendering the planet inhabitable.
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Format: DVD
The onscreen written intro tells us that this film is taking place in the "Tomorrow after Tomorrow". So apparently in the next two days we'll have experienced the "Robot Wars" and have had to relocate to the moon coz Earth is too damn polluted and radioactive. The people of the moon colony come under attack by Jack Palance and his army of trashcan robots who do his dirty work. Palance hangs out on Delta 3, but he wants control of the moon as well. The wimpy moon people don't wanna take action, but 3 badazz renegades and a reprogrammed Palancebot aren't about to just roll over. So, before you can slap on your Skin Bracer, they're off to turn the tables on Jack Palance. First a quick pitstop on Earth for repairs. Meanwhile on Delta 3, about 7 people have formed a resistance against Palance's dictatorship. When they're not being fried to a frizzly frazzle by the Palancebots, they hide from these innovative, high-tech death machines by merely crouching in the grass about 2 feet away as the killers merrily march by. If these robots are the biggest threat the moon colony is facing, what's the panic all about? Palancebots are also easily dispatched by a good rap on the head with what ever is handy. Our heroes finally make it to Delta 3 after a brief detour through some wacky black hole-type thing. I don't know what the hell that scene is about, but guessing from the facial expressions it was either very painful or felt very good. Once on Delta 3, they team up with the shrinking resistance and have to face Jack Palance's Deadly Disco Dance-O-Rama! Hope they didn't forget their lucky deck coz Palance isn't gonna go down easy. Check out the shot where the crumbling ceiling bonks Jack Palance on the head! Was that intentional? Do our heroes save the day? Do you really give a @$#&?Read more ›
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Format: DVD
What if, just before filming STAR WARS, George Lucas had suffered a mind-obliterating stroke? Well, this film may answer that question! From the awesome "technology" to the ultra-fabulous costumes, THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME is a supreme, intergalactic miscarriage. Jack Palance plays the megalomaniacal madman, Omus, out to dominate the Earth and the moon. He spends most of his screen-time either smirking, or looking dangerously constipated. Watch his lumbering, trashcan kill-bots wobble around like ornery traffic barrels! Groove to the ultimate wisdom of the spherical uber-computer, LOMAX, and the cutesy, poetry-spouting robot, SPARKS! Nicholas Campbell (DAVINCI'S INQUEST, THE DEAD ZONE) is Jason, a sort of stunned Luke Skywalker on lithium. Carol Lynley (THE SHUTTERED ROOM, BEWARE THE BLOB!) plays Nikki, who must lead a small, red-suited resistance into battle against the eeevil Omus and his robo-dork army. Ultimately, following the plot is pointless. It's best to simply allow the movie to wash over you, like the shadow of death...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So bad it was actually ... bad! I don't mean it was so bad it was good, it wasn't, it was just bad. I'm embarrassed for having watched it, it was that bad. Did I mention it was bad? Yeah, move on to something else, anything else, an old rerun of Knots Landing maybe, anything at all!!
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I have two words to describe "H. G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come": oh, brother. I felt certain when I discovered that it was made in Canada in the wake of "Star Wars" with Jack Palance as an evil overlord, that the movie had extreme cheese potential, and not only was I right I had no idea how right I was. Of all the films I would have loved to see MST3K deal with this has to top the list.

The film starts with a ponderous crawler explaining the background of the film. In a nutshell we learn that the Earth has been destroyed in the great robot wars, that man has colonized the moon, and that (for some never explained reason) the human race is wholly dependent on the supply of a miracle drug, RADIC-Q-2, which is only made on distant planet Delta Three. What could possibly go wrong? After seeing the extremely cheesy credits (they are reminiscent of the original "Battlestar Galactica" without the realism), which reveal that the film stars Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, and Barry Morse, you get no extra points for figuring out that the correct answer is, of course, Jack Palance.

The film opens in "New Washington" the home of the new lunar government, headed by "The Master Computer" whose name is Lomax. The control center reminded me of the spaceship set from "Space Mutiny" (although, again, much less realistic), but I had no idea that was the tip of the iceberg of ludicrousness. There is political intrigue afoot (in a situation that actually does mirror reality) when boneheaded Senator Smedley (John Ireland) tells brilliant scientist Dr. John Caball (Barry Morse) that the defense budget is being cut as it's unnecessary, effectively canceling the nearly complete "Starstreak" project. Within minutes of the discussion, a robot plows a spaceship into New Washington.
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