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William Witney
Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham
Richard Matheson

A scientist and his team are held as "guests" of Robur on his airship, that he want to use to ensure peace on earth.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.

Price: $69.97
Release Date: 2/16/2016

Available Only as Part of “The Vincent Price Collection III"

• Audio Commentary with Actor David Frankham
• “Richard Matheson: Storyteller” Documentary
• Trailer
• Still Galleries


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Master of the World: The Vincent Price Collection III [Blu-Ray] (1961)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 10, 2016)

Adapted from the works of Jules Verne, 1961’s Master of the World introduces us to an apparent madman named Captain Robur (Vincent Price). Set in rural Pennsylvania circa 1868, Robur terrorizes the locals when his actions cause seismic mayhem at a local mountain.

The government sends John Strock (Charles Bronson) to commission the use of a hot-air balloon owned by Mr. Prudent (Henry Hull) to fly over the mountain and find out what’s up. Prudent’s daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster) and her fiancé Phillip Evans (David Frankham) also come along for the ride.

They encounter a snag when they cross over the mountain and Robur shoots down the balloon. He captures the inhabitants and makes them passengers in his own airship, one Robur creates to ensure “peace on earth” – by any means necessary. We follow the journey as we see the methods of Robur’s madness.

Master starts off on the wrong foot, as it opens with a fairly perplexing montage. We get a long reel that shows pre-Wright Brothers attempts at flight, a sequence that exists for no discernable reason.

Even when this segment ends, Master remains a messy mish-mash. The story flits all over the place and never makes a ton of sense. The characters lack personality and go nowhere – especially when the movie arbitrarily decides to create a love triangle that doesn’t fit the narrative in the least.

Not that much about Master seems logical, and its actors fail to mesh as well. At times it seems like they all work in different movies, as we get performances that range from stiff to campy to wooden to melodramatic.

The normally reliable Price flops in Master as welll. Frankly, he appears bored with the part and he adds little personality to Robur beyond his usual sense of arrogant menace. Perhaps Price sensed what a dud the film would be and deemed it beyond redemption.

Even by era standards, the movie’s visual effects seem weak. These tend to look cheap and unconvincing. I don’t expect greatness from circa 1961 effects, but these fail to appear anything other than artificial.

Add to this quirky editing, cheesy comedy and a mediocre score and you end up with a pretty poor film. Whatever potential the source novel provides goes down the drain in this slow, boring effort.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C-/ Bonus B-

Master of the World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with an inconsistent transfer.

Granted, the movie’s reliance on tons of effects/process shots meant that the results came with inevitable limitations. The effects elements often came with lackluster definition/colors as well as lots of print flaws.

Parts of the film not impacted by effects worked better but still tended to be up and down. Sharpness seemed erratic. Much of the movie showed reasonably good delineation, but occasional soft spots materialized as well – more than I expected. I saw no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent.

Print flaws turned into the image’s primary distraction. Throughout the film, I saw a mix of specks, spots, streaks, lines and other issues. Some parts seemed reasonably clean, but I still saw more defects than I’d like.

Colors seemed fine. These could be a bit on the heavy side, but I surmised that resulted from the cinematography. When necessary, the hues looked pretty positive. Blacks were fairly dark and deep, while shadows showed mostly nice clarity. The image had good elements, but the negatives left it as a “C-“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA Stereo soundtrack, it seemed acceptable for its age, though not without weaknesses. The stereo presence mostly worked via the score, which spread across the front pretty well.

Effects also blossomed in the right and left channels, though not in a particularly smooth manner. Elements tended to be fairly speaker-specific and didn’t blend in a concise manner. Still, they showed some ambition.

Audio quality was erratic, mainly due to the effects. Those components tended to become rather distorted, as any loud material crackled. This wasn’t a terrible issue, but it created distractions.

Music seemed a bit too bright but was reasonably well-presented. Speech was a little tinny but came with appropriate intelligibility. The breadth of the stereo image gave the mix a boost, but the distortion of the effects took away points.

By the way, I noticed a definite drop in volume around the movie’s 45-minute point. This wasn’t a huge change, but it prompted me to turn up my receiver’s volume a few notches – and then turn it back down later in the film. The shifts perplexed me.

A few extras fill out the disc, and we open with an audio commentary from actor David Frankham. Along with moderator Jonathan David Dixon, we learn about the source novels and their adaptation, story/character areas, how Frankham got his part and reflections on cast/crew, effects and music, and production thoughts. We also get a brief – and substance-free – taped message from actor Mary Webster.

The commentary doesn’t give us a tight examination of Master, but it still proves to be enjoyable. Most of its pleasures come from Frankham’s memories of his career and co-workers, as those elements bring us fun stories. As long as you don’t expect a Master-focused chat, you’ll like this track.

A documentary called Richard Matheson: Storyteller runs one hour, 12 minutes and five seconds. This offers an interview with writer Matheson conducted in 2001. We learn what led Matheson to movies as well as influences and reflections on his work. Information about Master crops up around the 16-minute mark and lasts two minutes, 40 seconds.

As such, fans shouldn’t expect to learn much from Matheson about the movie on this Blu-ray. That’s not a disappointment, though, as “Storyteller” doesn’t promise in-depth info about Master. Instead, it brings us a career overview, and it’s a pretty good one. The show lacks a particularly concise structure, but Matheson delivers a nice array of thoughts about his career.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get two photo galleries, both of which offer running video montages. “Gallery I” fills two minutes, 18 seconds and includes 27 images, while “Gallery II” goes for one minute, 59 seconds and provides 23 pictures. Across these, we find a nice mix of publicity materials and shots from the set.

Despite the presence of the normally solid Vincent Price, Master of the World fizzles. It suffers from a slew of filmmaking and storytelling issues, all of which make it plodding and silly. The Blu-ray brings us erratic picture and audio as well as a few informative supplements. I can’t find much about Master to make it a worthwhile effort.

Note that this version of Master of the World comes only as part of the four-disc “Vincent Price Collection III”. That set also includes Tower of London, Diary of a Madman, An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe and Cry of the Banshee.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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