Dave Randall, a skilled pilot, is called to a remote location by Dr. Bronson, an astronomer, who pays him to deliver a pair of photographs to another colleague, Dr. Hendron. With the photo's intentions being unknown to Randall at first, he soon discovers that he has been let in on a major secret, the impending end of the world as we know it. The astronomers have discovered that the planet Zyra will collide with Earth and wipe out all of humanity in a matter of months. With the theory facing widespread disbelief, the two astronomers manage to convince some very wealthy men to fund the construction of a rocket ship that they believe will get them to Zyra, which theoretically may be habitable for humans. Rudolph Mate's When Worlds Collide is an early disaster film that looks cheesy by today's standards, but its narrative structure would become a staple of the scifi disaster flick for years to come. When we are first introduced to Dave Randall he is a ladies man whose carefree demeanor presents him as a man with little substance or worth. It's through this extermination event which Randall becomes an important cog in humanities survival, while learning a bit about sacrifice. Randall's character arch, going from somewhat selfish to caring, is an example of how this films narrative supplied some of the major tropes of the sci-fi apocalypse genre. Another far more simplistic example of this lies in exposing the Dog Eat Dog nature of humanity. Obviously the rocket ship has severe limitations revolving around the number of passengers and cargo it can carry and this leads to a slight commentary on the darker-side of humanity, though I wouldn't call it cynical by any means. Even for the time, When Worlds Collide lacked a major budget with Mate relying heavily on ingenuity to make up for this. The film uses a barrage of stock footage, color filters, and matte work to create this living and breathing world that is believable and captivating, especially for the time. While the love triangle subplot of When Worlds Collide felt incredibly unnecessary to the story, overall, When World's Collide is an enjoyable early disaster film that provides a lot of context into how these type of films evolved going forward.
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