Review: The Man From Earth (2007)

the-man-from-earth

I am also a man from earth, but most people think of me as the weird dude from down the street, go figure!

Written By: Jerome Bixby
Directed By: Richard Schenkman

I have written in the past about how great science fiction isn’t so much about the actions taken as the questions raised. Don’t get me wrong, there is action science fiction, thriller science fiction, etc. and they all can be great as well. But, science fiction is truly about thinking, about using the fantastic to question, breakdown and analyze. The Man From Earth is great science fiction because it questions history, man, religion, science, it questions the very idea of existence. It isn’t heavy handed in nature either, it never provides a clear answer to any of the questions asked, another staple of great science fiction.

I do have issues with some parts of The Man From Earth. The ending was not needed at all, it should never have been revealed what the deal was with John. By telling the viewer at the end that he is telling the truth an answer is given to us that we don’t need. The film should have ended with the conversation between John and Sandy, and with us still questioning in our heads not only the issues the movie raised but the validity of John’s story. There are also some minor hiccups in the acting, there are moments when it is clear that outside of Tony Todd, and John Billingsley at times, you are watching movie of the week actors. They were good for the most part, but every now and again a piece of dialogue would be delivered the wrong way or a scene would play awkward because they couldn’t keep up with the material. Lastly, the score really needed to be changed up, it was far too overbearing. The attempts to try and match up the music with whatever era John was talking about were misfires and the final song over the credits was pure pap.

But, with all the above being the case I still really liked The Man From Earth and thought all the positives far outweighed any of the negatives. Tony Todd would be one such positive, any time his character of Dan opens his mouth you take notice because it is Tony Todd and he is one of the best unknown actors out there, so there is no stumbling or awkwardness in his delivery. Most of all, The Man From Earth impressed me with its use of classical figures, religion, science, history and myth. People have tried to argue that The Man From Earth is an attack on Christianity and it is, but the people making that argument are still wrong. The Man From Earth doesn’t attack Christianity or any religion specifically, it attacks the very notion of human existence, from A to Z. Christianity and religion happens to be a part of that and so it was also questioned and examined. Don’t let others think for you, do your own thinking and you’ll quickly realize what The Man From Earth is trying to say and that the Christian zealots are out of their gourds like usual.

The Man From Earth is a different type of science fiction film, not even like the classics of the 1950’s. Science Fiction on film has never been about questioning just for the sake of questioning, there has always been some sort of galactic back story, cool gadgets, aliens, etc. that are the main crux of the story. The Man From Earth hearkens back to the works of early science fiction writers, when the focus wasn’t on the fiction but on questioning reality around us through fiction. The Man From Earth is a film that not many people have seen, but more people need to see. If you think it is your typical Sci-Fi Channel Saturday night movie, then please think again and give what should be a modern age science fiction classic a shot.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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18 responses to “Review: The Man From Earth (2007)

  1. going to have a look at this one, good review.

    newman

  2. As I was watching this movie, I kept thinking to myself that a movie this good shouldn’t have gone so unheralded. Hopefully, it will be re-released and get a wider audience the second time around.

  3. This movie answered all those questions I’ve been wondering for ages. A must watch for each and every one!

  4. answers become questions and questions become answers..

  5. Newman – Thanks.

    Victor – Sometimes that’s the way it goes with movies, you just have to roll with the punches.

    Meda – That’s interesting.

    Tomorrow – Exactly…

  6. I enjoyed the movie as well as this review. But I also like how they did reveal that he was telling the truth at the end. Sure, it is not needed. But it was interesting to see another character’s surprised reaction to the revelation, almost immediately after that character was being mostly in denial of John’s claim. I feel it was directed more to answering ‘how would someone react to believing in this claim’, more so than ‘is he telling the truth’. IMO. Great review, Mr. Thompson.

  7. I respect your take, but I would have liked a more ambiguous ending myself. It doesn’t detract from the movie in a huge way, but I didn’t think it was the best ending for the film. Thank for the feedback. :)

  8. Your review was quite agreeable with my thoughts on the movie. The setting reminded me of “12 angry men”, though it is quite different in its subject matter . I am interested to know if you can enlighten me about movies which are similar to its kind.
    P.S I watched Highlander and did not like it much.

  9. Hmmm, there are a lot of bad movies that are like The Man From Earth, and only a few good movies I can think of. There’s Solyaris and it’s American remake Solaris. The Quiet Earth is another one, and there may be a few others I’m not thinking of right now.

    Highlander is a film I have not seen in many years, I need to revisit it.

  10. I just watched the movie and I enjoyed your review. I completely agree that the score was not done well. There were moments in the film where I paused the movie, thinking the noise was coming from elsewhere. I appreciate low-budget films as Primer is one of my favorites (although many close to me do not like Primer) .. the one thing that kept distracting me was the acting. You touched on it but I think the acting was grossly under par. It simply came off wrong. John Billingsley was the absolute wrong fit.

    The movie does not deserve all negative feedback, however. The story itself was intriguing and as a Catholic/Christian, I did not feel like it attacked me. I could go on for days but no need to make a complete “comment review”. I would give the movie a 5/10 – on the basis of my enjoyment, review, and if I would recommend it to others. Thanks for your review!

  11. Fair points. I’m a big idea man myself, so when a film presents an idea and explores it as openly and as thoroughly as this film did I’m a happy man.

  12. Pingback: Review: Henama Ykoon El Zaman Untha (When Time Becomes A Woman, 2012) | Bill's Movie Emporium

  13. Hi Bill,

    Interesting post, especially the weaknesses you have pointed out(I was thinking that there were some but was not able to figure out clearly!). This is the second film in a row after Mr. Nobody, where I find that I can love Science-Fiction as much as I love Mystery. Obviously this movie has a more thought provoking premise than that of Mr. Nobody because it’s more original. In a way Jerome Bixby’s swan song would become a classic like Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight; I don’t know if it happens frequently but somehow it’s so magical that others living and kicking cannot go around repeating it–I mean I am not too experienced but I have not seen anything like Joker and similarly this plot is just a masterpiece. This movie also reminded me of 12 Angry Men, though that was a court room drama mystery–but entire thing going inside a single room with most intelligent dialogue made it look alike this one. Fermat’s Room is another such movie but that is more on the lines of Kafkaesque Cube etc and yet it fails to deliver what 12 Angry Men and A Man From Earth do.

  14. Interesting observations, and thanks for reading.

  15. I am amazed to have watched the movie and read through the comments that praise it and yet I find it sooo lame. It’s a short walkthrough history and evolution of language so you would need to have missed History at school to actually be impressed by this. The characters are poorly played and it’s really funny how they all pretend to be scholars, yet they fall for such a stupidly constructed scenario so easily. Better go out and walk or even better read a book than watch this. Total waste of time 1/10

  16. Obviously I disagree, and if you think the movie is about history or the evolution of language I don’t know what to tell you. This is a movie about the questions for which there are no answers and the meta aspect of our own lives.

  17. There is a pshyatric disease named Messianic syndrome that the “cave man” exhibits. His arguments are really poor. I am not referring to the questions that have been intriguing Mankind since the beginning of existance. I am reffering to the people that wrote the script just ticking the “questions” check boxes and providing arguments that one can easily find on Wikipedia. Anyways I would expect a 14000 year old that has met Buddha and was put up on a cross to have a bit more emotional intelligence when confideing to some “scholars” that act like hillbillies. The guy that arrived by motorcycle reminds me of the South park “deidukarjarbs” rednecks.

  18. I know what you’re referring to, and as I said already, I don’t agree with your take on the way the film poses its questions. I found the main character’s arguments well presented, and it’s fine that it’s your interpretation that he’s exhibiting Messianic Syndrome, but I don’t agree with that interpretation. The intelligence, emotional or otherwise, that you say isn’t present I say is present. You and I don’t see eye to eye on this movie, and that’s fine.

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