An oldie – Kronos. this was a 1950s science fiction epic. It was black and white, but made in widescreen. Some of the people involved had worked on Forbidden Planet. I rank that film in the very top tier of great SF films, not only because of the effects, but also the writing (which unfairly gets denigrated by reviewers who, I am convinced, Just Don’t Know Any Better). Kronos, on the other hand, has positively stupid science, but the visuals are gorgeous.
A LOT of thought went into the visuals. The titular robot Kronos is a simple pair of metal boxes, connected by a shaft, with a dome and two antennae on top and four pillar-like legs on the bottom. Three of these move up and down like piledrivers, while to fourth rotates.
More than one critic has excused the film because of its striking and very different imagery, making it stand out from the run of 1950s Monster movies. and it really is incredibly striking. Until you see it, you wouldn’t think that so simple a design could be so visually interesting – but it is. Every time it’s onscreen it gives the aura of high-tech, and of being simply enormous. It could easily have looked laughable, but Kronos never looks like a model.
And its destruction at the end is wonderfully realized, the same way the Krel Door at the end of Forbidden Planet doesn’t just break, but melts in stages. Kronos’ dome gets mottled, its covering melts off. The antennae arc over, and those brushed metal sides develop corrosion. it’s just fascinating to watch.
As I’ve remarked before, Kronos obviously had a big influence on animation director Brad Bird – you can see touches of it in The Iron Giant (another invading robot from space, who first appears at sea, and attacks a power plant) and in The Incredibles (where the Omnidroid is a similarly virtually indestructible geometric shape that conveys menace – and its project is code-named “Kronos”)