Thursday, December 1, 2011

Movie Review: Mysterious Island (1961)

I first saw this film during grade school at Willard Elementary. By that time I had already seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in its entirety.[1] So it was a delightful surprise when Captain Nemo and the Nautilus make an appearance. My fascination with Ray Harryhausen's special effects (giant crabs, giant bees, a giant flightless bird, a giant ammonite, and the lost continent of Atlantis) induced me to read the book—which was conspicuously lacking in all those things.[2]

My verdict: The youngest actress' costumes notwithstanding, this is definitely a movie for children. The special effects are quite easy to spot, including the many, many painted backgrounds. The characterization is simplistic and the acting is, at its best, mediocre (and it's rarely at its best). Every time there is a voice-over by the narrator, his voice sounds tinny and has an echo, which was a poor effect. Even so, there's nothing terrible about this film and I've watched it at least three times, now.


[1] I can recall sneaking out of my room as a young child and seeing my parents watching this movie. I had the misfortune of sneaking out right at the time when the giant squid attacks the Nautilus, which I found rather terrifying. That scene still sort of haunts me (but not in the same way it haunted the character Dr. Harry Adams in Michael Crichton's Sphere).

[2] I can still recall plowing through a description about how to make gunpowder, using materials readily available on the island, which was several pages long.

Image attributions:

Giant Crab is by Jenny Spadafora, available at 

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