Friday, May 31, 2013

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) Review:

By 1954, Disney already had a name for itself with producing quality entertainment. So it shouldn't shock many (now) that Walt Disney decided to take on this project and adapt Jules Verne's story to the big screen. But here's the game changer, the cast has big name actors, the special effects are fantastic, the props are spectacular and the screenplay was well revised.

The main characters
The story takes place in the late 1800's where a Professor Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre) are put their knowledge and well being to the test when they are given the opportunity of a life time. Recently, there have been sightings of a "sea monster" attacking vessels out on the open sea. The offer, is to sail with the US navy to track down the monster and destroy it. At first the professor and his assistant were curious, but soon audiences will watch them grow and understand that the answers they were hoping for, were not even close to what they thought they could be.

Aboard this ship is Ned Land (Kirk Douglas), a master harpooner who seems to have an attitude with authority but in the most lighthearted and high-spirited way. But another character that is one of the most intriguing and hard to figure out characters is Captain Nemo, brilliantly played by James Mason. The way Mason portrays his character makes it so hard to read. Mason acts with a controlled yet ferocious hatred, but it never seems like that. In fact, he may seem a little mad (crazy), but he will always use a sophisticated vocabulary.

An underwater scene
Also, for 1954 the special effects and props were so convincing. Wait until you see that giant squid! Absolutely phenomenal! And because the film is in wide screen, it looks even better. The sets either on the ships, in the water beside the choral reefs or on an island looks great. The music provided by Paul L. Smith was much welcomed too. Since Smith has worked with Disney before on various other projects like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), his score emits all the right feelings for each scene.

The reason why I titled this as the classic among classic adventure tales because that's what it is. This is the purest of the pure in what this genre is. Setting out on a journey with no idea of what the end result may be is exactly what an adventure is. I mean, what else could you ask for? Sailing out to sea to find a monster sounds exciting and scary at the same time, plus you have cannons, island natives, underwater treasure and so on. There's just so many things to explore!

Because of the top-notch acting, amazing set pieces, adventurous music and spectacular special effects, this is by far Disney's most famous live-action piece from the 1950s.

Points Earned --> 10:10

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