Review: Daleks – Invasion Earth – 2150 AD / Cert: U / Director: Gordon Flemyng / Screenplay: Milton Subotsky, David Whitaker / Starring: Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Jill Curzon, Roberta Tovey, Andrew Keir, Ray Brooks, Phillip Madoc / Release Date: May 27th
The success of Dr Who and the Daleks in 1965 led to the almost immediate commissioning of a second full-length feature film which, it was hoped, would pull the same trick twice. Why change a winning formula? 1966’s Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD took its lead from Terry Nation’s second Dalek serial, broadcast in 1964, and the same creative team responsible for the earlier movie were called back to work their magic again. Peter Cushing returned as Dr Who, with Roberta Tovey as Susan, but Roy Castle and Jennie Linden were unavailable to reprise their roles as Ian and Barbara, so Dr Who found himself travelling with his niece Louise (Jill Curzon) and affable London copper Tom Campbell (Bernard Cribbins, forty-odd years before donning the comfy cardy and slippers of Donna Noble’s granddad Wilfred Mott in the Doctor Who TV series), who stumbles into the Police Box in the aftermath of a smash-and-grab bank raid.
The TARDIS arrives in a devastated London in the year 2150 (although it never looks anything other than 1966 on screen). The Daleks have invaded the Earth and have subjugated humanity, turning everyone into robotic slaves, and are planning to blow out the Earth’s core from a mine in Bedfordshire so they can pilot the planet around the Universe. Only Dr Who can save the day! Except he can’t because Peter Cushing was taken ill during the filming, necessitating hasty rewrites. But the end result is a leaner, slicker film than its predecessor, its bigger scale and lavish location filming giving the story room to breathe and allowing for some effective action sequences, such as the rebel attack on the impressive Dalek flying saucer. Director Gordon (father of Jason) Flemyng keeps the action racing along, and his photographing of the Daleks sometimes has an almost documentary feel to it, especially during the sequences inside the Dalek mining complex as the machines glide up and down ramps and sweep between their massive instrument panels. For a 1960s kid’s film it’s often surprisingly violent (the modern TV show probably couldn’t get away with the stabbings and mass slaughter shown here) and there are some decent performances especially from Ray Brooks as young freedom fighter David, Andrew Keir as the grizzled Wyler and Philip Madoc as deeply sinister self-serving smuggler Brockley who meets a nasty end courtesy of a circle of Daleks.
Despite its vibrant colour (the Daleks again impress, this time in their silver-and-blue livery) and non-stop action, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD couldn’t replicate the success of Dr Who and the Daleks and the option on a third feature film was never taken up. Simple and largely unsophisticated it may be, but Daleks - Invasion Earth: 21050 AD, like its predecessor, deserves its place in the limelight again as the TV show which spawned it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.
Extras: Restoration feature / Bernard Cribbins interview / Interview with Shepperton historian Gareth Owen / Trailer / Gallery