Two US Navy divers discover the Nautilus trapped underwater, with Captain Nemo in suspended animation inside for the last century. Once Nemo is revived, the government makes a deal with him to refit his ship with a few modern technologies in exchange for his helping to defeat Professor Cunningham, a mad genius threatening to destroy Washington with a missile from his own submarine unless he is paid a billion dollars. Later, Nemo continues and completes his search for the sunken city of Atlantis, delayed 100 years by his long time in stasis
Directed by: Alex March
, Paul Stader
. Starring: José Ferrer
, Burgess Meredith
, Mel Ferrer
, Horst Buchholz
, Tom Hallick
, Burr DeBenning
, Lynda Day George
, Warren Stevens
, Med Flory
, Anthony McHugh
, Randolph Roberts
, Richard Angarola
, Art Balinger
. Music by: Richard LaSalle
Two years after Irwin Allen did some of his best work with his Time Travelers TV movie, he did some of his worst with this summer replacement series. I remember rather liking this back then. Revisiting it via the recently released Amazing Captain Nemo DVD, it's nothing like what I thought I remembered. It was much less fun and exciting. I think I'll stick with my memories. Thanks to the Towering Inferno and the Poseidon Adventure, Allen earned the sobriquet, "Master of Disaster." With this, that was certainly accurate. It was definitely a disaster.
The plot made no sense at all. At one point, Nemo tells Tom to set his hand weapon to stun because "We are not murderers." Never mind that a stunned scuba diver would probably drown, probably a less pleasant death. Only minutes later, they utterly destroy the villain's submarine, so presumably everyone onboard is killed. The Atlanteans appear to be able to breathe water, but Nemo insists that they take his mini-sub to escape. Amazing Captain Nemo, edited down to two hours from several episodes, was even worse. The editing was completely haphazard, jumping from scene to scene at times and being hard to follow.
This cast was utterly forgettable. Jose Ferrer chews the scenery but does little else, once flinging his cape backwards as if he were auditioning for Phantom of the Opera. Tom Hallick, who had previously appeared on Allen's Time Travelers, was okay, but the character was about as two-dimensional as they come, like all of the other characters. Lynda Day George stood around as decoration but didn't actually do anything to help the crew.
A superior undersea effort came a year earlier, with the Man from Atlantis TV movie. That also featured a former Batman guest villain, namely Victor Buono (King Tut) while this had Burgess Meredith (the Penguin). That movie also featured mind control devices. Was Allen cribbing again? Like most Irwin Allen works, there was no character development here. Nemo is stuffy and good. Cunningham is crabby and evil. The Navy pair are loyal. Nobody grows or changes at all through the series.
Allen stole from everything this time. It's no accident that the corridor on Professor Cunningham's sub resembles the one from the beginning of Star Wars. Even the music during that fight shamelessly apes John Williams' iconic score, but without the master's touch. Allen reused (twice!) a shot of two mines colliding and exploding, taken from his 1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea movie.
Just how chintzy was the budget? The filming model of the villain's submarine was recognizably built using major parts from a model kit of the Space: 1999 Eagle, which you could buy from any hobby store at the time for less than $10. Maybe that's why they called it the Raven. I can't imagine any other reason why someone would name an undersea vehicle after an aerial creature. To mask the poor effects, every "underwater" shot was filled with swirling particles and silt. There were "robots" in cheap rubber masks and spray-painted wetsuits. The mask on Tor muffled the actor's voice and they never bothered to even dub it, even though it would have been easy since there were no lip movements to match. Not that hearing him more clearly would have been a blessing. His lines were monotonous, ridiculous ones like, "Aliens live! Aliens must be destroyed!" If you must watch one of Irwin Allen's undersea works, I strongly suggest going with his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series instead. That was ten times better than this. Or better yet, get the 1961 Voyage theatrical movie with Walter Pidgeon and Barbara Eden.
Review by TVholic from the Internet Movie Database.