18 October 2000 | SanDiego
Second best made-for-TV version of 1997.
1997 saw two TV versions of Jules Verne's classic and I suppose which ever a viewer saw first would forever tarnish their view of the second (Warning: I saw the other version first.) This means neither film was all that bad, neither all that great, and neither threw the Disney version off it's pedestal as being the true film classic (James Mason, Kirk Douglas, and Peter Lorre are a tough act to follow). Personally, I will watch ANYTHING remotely associated with Jules Verne so don't get too upset at my review, I did purchase it for my collection. Yet, compared to the other TV version, this version which features Michael Caine as Captain Nemo is overlong and without style. It boasts a great cast (well cast and decent performances), nice sets, and sufficient special effects, but little imagination. While it lights up like a Christmas tree in production values, it pales in making anything seem interesting. I expect remakes to show me something a little different than what I've seen or read and this whole film tries to base itself on things all too familiar. Dig deeper! Please read my review of 1997's other "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" for that film had style and some original additions. In previous versions we were awed by James Mason behind his pipe organ like the Phantom of the Nautilus, and Ben Cross chilled us as he stood atop his submarine like a Russian commander with American gun fire bursting around him. In this version Michael Caine's bags under his eyes suggested he was quite tired and made me feel very sleepy as well. 1969's "Captain Nemo and the Underwater City" with a nothing budget and a bland cast (Robert Ryan, Chuck Conners!!!) was more interesting! But it is Jules Verne and can be proud to be the second best made-for-TV version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to be aired in 1997. I may have been a little harsh, but I think Captain Nemo would have it no other way.