June 1, 2018

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (2005): Now 100% Crab-Free

Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Gabrielle Anwar, Danielle Calvert, Patrick Stewart, Roy Marsden, Omar Gooding, Vinnie Jones, Jason Durr, Tom Milson, Chris Larkin. Directed by Russell Mulcahy. (2005/171 min). 

(includes digital copy) 

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

It is probably prudent to point-out in advance that yours truly holds the 1961 version of Mysterious Island in phenomenally high regard. Not that it's a groundbreaking masterpiece, but it was my first monster movie as a kid and I distinctly remember my parents graciously allowing me to stay up an hour past my usual bedtime to watch it on TV.

I mention this because the original Jules Verne novel was bereft of giant crabs and Fiat-sized bees (to my utter disappointment when I checked it out at the library). The 1961 version took the basic premise of the book to fashion a parade of Ray Harryhausen's wonderful stop-motion critters. This 2005 update, first-aired as a two-part miniseries on the Hallmark Channel, seems more inspired by that movie than Verne's novel, featuring a variety of oversized beasts  - though no crabs, dammit - and Captain Nemo (Patrick Stewart) grudgingly trying to save the world from its warring ways, this time by constructing a doomsday weapon as a deterrent.

Snakes love walkies.
Unfortunately, the similarities pretty much end there. Mysterious Island 2005 is a long, disjointed, cheap-looking mess. Stewart is one of its few bright spots, but isn't in the film nearly as long as his billing suggests and still doesn't hold a candle to James Mason (or even Herbert Lom). Most of the other performances range from perfunctory to downright terrible. We actually end up spending more time with Vinnie Jones, who's embarrassing as Captain Bob, a cornball composite of every pirate cliche you've ever heard, stopping just short of grunting "aaarrgh" with every line.

Narratively, the whole thing is padded-out with way too much dull plot and boring exposition for what should essentially be just a survival film. Instead, we get a ridiculous quest to find forbidden gold, with two different parties possessing part of a necklace that, when pieced together, will lead them to the treasure. From a technical standpoint, the laughable special effects make Sharknado look like The Lord of the Rings. For many scenes, the actors don't even appear to be sharing the same space as their surroundings. And the CGI actually gets worse as the film progresses, almost as if they ran out of time to finish them in post-production. Granted, no version of Mysterious Island could ever make me forget my favorite childhood monsterfest, but would it have killed them to at-least try?

Perhaps saddest of all, this version was directed by Russell Mulcahy, once touted as the next big thing after unleashing the original Highlander on the world. All he manages to do here is make me appreciate that old 1961 chestnut even more. Good god, what has happened to you, man?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yap, mysterious crap.