Saturday, 30 October 2010

Mysterious Island (1961)

Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" is given the Ray Harryhausen treatment here and, as is so often the case, the main reason to watch it is his brilliant creature effects.    Michael Craig does his best as Captain Cyrus Harding, leader of a a small group of escaped Union soldiers and one Confederate during the American Civil War.  After a daring escape by hot air balloon from their prisoner of war camp. they end up stranded on a mysterious island, soon two be joined by two English ladies who managed to escape a shipwreck.  The cast are okay, somewhat hampered by leaden dialogue early on, but things improve once they start meeting the island's inhabitants, who have been bred to gargantuan size by Captain Nemo.  Nemo (Herbert Lom) only appears later in the film, but he's such a memorable character that he still makes a lasting impression.

It's not a great movie, but the creature effects are well worth seeing (yes, even in these days of much more realistic CGI).  With the DVD being so cheap it's worth getting, especially as there's a very interesting featurette called "The Harryhausen Chronicles", much of the footage of which was used in the Ray Harryhausen Exhibition at the London Film Museum.  There are also featurettes on "Dynamation" ad Mysterious Island itself, as well as a theatrical trailer and photo gallery.  All in all a pretty decent DVD package, albeit of a film that is in itself rather unremarkable apart from the SFX maestro's creatures.

Other Ray Harryhausen Movie Reviews:

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

You may also be interested in the PC adventure game Return to Mysterious Island

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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