When scientists a hundred years into the future discover a "duplicate" Earth on the other side of the sun, the stage is set for tense science fiction adventure and suspense. Determined to find out what this new world is like, the Western nations of Earth set up an expedition headed by former astronauts Roy Thinnes and Ian Hendry to reach the new planet. All goes according to plan until the spaceship makes a crash landing on a planet somethree weeks earlier than expected. Have the space travelers actually returned to Earth or are they on some strange mirror-imageworld where they must prove who they really are or die trying? This imaginative space adventure offers a journey few will ever forget.
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There's a sense of awe to the special effects work of animation specialists Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (Thunderbirds Are Go)--the slow, lovingly detailed introduction of a massive spaceship creeping out of dock and struggling against its bulk while trapped on the ground, and the almost balletic spectacle of the ship elegantly floating against an impressive star field or dramatically flying against the rugged landscape. These moments are the highlights of this sober science fiction thriller about the discovery of a planet on the far side of the sun in Earth's orbit. A mission is hastily put together, with British astrophysicist Ian Hendry teamed with hotshot American astronaut Roy Thinnes for the three-week trip, but when they suddenly crash-land the strange creatures that surround them are revealed to be human. Against all rational explanations they're back on Earth, but Thinnes suddenly discovers that everything is a mirror image of his existence: Through the Looking Glass by way of The Twilight Zone. Though it begins as a paranoid spy thriller set in the near future (the opening details an ingenious espionage caper featuring a very special eyepiece), it quickly turns into a serious and oddly unsettling space-race drama with a heady twist. Robert Parrish's direction is unusually aloof, but the film is always intriguing and well acted with gorgeous special effects that may rank second only to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 as the most elegant vision of outer space flight on film. --Sean Axmaker
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