I guess because of some anniversary related to the initial version on Disney, someone decided to do a remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and not only lengthen it, but turn it into a miniseries. Built over a couple of parts, the piece, adapted by Brian Nelson (Hardy Candy) and directed by Rod Hardy (December Boys) stars some familiar names and faces, but is it really worth it?
In a nutshell, Pierre Arronax (Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy) is the son of a famous scientist, and Pierre theorizes that there are large creatures living in extremely deep ocean waters. He decides to go seaward and find this out for himself, with the help of Ned Land (Bryan Brown, Cocktail) and Cabe Attucks (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Get Rich or Die Tryin’), they travel and don’t find anything, but soon after, stumble into a underwater ship called the Nautilus, helmed by Captain Nemo (Michael Caine, The Weather Man). Nemo is a man who has become tired of the outside world, and tries to do whatever he can to keep away from it. Pierre has a respect (bordering on admiration) for Nemo, all the while Cabe and Ned have a more unbiased eye towards Nemo’s fanaticism, for lack of a better word.
Not having seen the original in years, the television remake features a lot of sets and graphics that, shall we say are a bit of an homage to the original version, when it comes to scenes shot on a stage with background matte paintings of some sort, and the visual effects are almost laughable. But put within how the creators want the film to appear, it’s not really that big of a deal.
I think Caine may have been in a phase where he wasn’t using the word “no” enough during his career, but he pulls off the Nemo role fairly well. Quite frankly, Dempsey can’t be taken seriously enough for me to consider how good or bad he is in the role, and even with Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Nemo’s daughter, the story is simply too long, the storylines border on obtrusive political correctness, and after awhile, watching the film is like completing a triathlon.
Because it was a miniseries before the avant-garde notion of widescreen viewing, it’s all full frame goodness. But its running time crammed on one disc makes for muddied viewing, where you can spot visual effects seams immediately and make snap decisions about them being amateurish. Wait a minute!
The Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment goes wasted on this disc, as all it really does is replicate the action in the front speakers, and doesn’t do it very well to begin with. While you could speculate that because whatever substantial budget costs the film incurred went to the sets, very little attention was paid to the sound. What a waste.
Three hours bordering on mundane and no extras to speak of. Lovely.
The remake (or reimagining) of Verne’s novel is a “novel” idea, but runs way too long, with a muddy picture, vanilla sound and very little else to enjoy. Do yourself a favor and rent (or buy) the original version with James Mason and Kirk Douglas, you’ll thank me for it.