Captain Smith -
Captain Nemo -
Mists of Avalon
Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
Sword of Xanten
Escaping the American Civil War, a small group arrive on a deserted island in an out of control balloon. Captain Smith finds himself in the compound of one Captain Nemo whilst the others find themselves beset by giant rats, ants and wasps. Meanwhile pirates are on the trail of a secret hoard of treasure hidden on the same island.
The main draw of this story is, as anyone who has seen the Ray Harryhausen version of this tale, the gigantic creatures. Sadly, the quality of the CGI is limited by the television budget and is likely to please only the least demanding. Then there is the choice of creatures. No giant crab fights here, but the far-from scary giant chameleon makes an appearance. Only the scorpion impresses (until the fight on the beach that is).
The cast is not exactly bereft of name stars, but they are clearly of the opinion that they are slumming it in such a production. Patrick Stewart's Nemo is indistinguishable from his Captain Picard, except less of a judge of human character, having to be constantly advised on that front by his only assistant. Kyle MacLachlan doesn't so much phone in his performance as write it on a piece of paper and throw it into the sea. Still, any production that casts Vinnie Jones as a pirate captain has a sense of humour. The joke, though, is on the audience that has to watch it.
The script plays it fast and loose with the source novel and the revelation that Nemo has built the first nuclear bomb and plans to create the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction single-handedly is laughable The dialogue gives them little to work with, especially in the case of the comedy pirates and cowardly rebel.
The most interesting question raised is how close in design to the Disney version can the Nautilus be before they sue.Top
The survivors set up home in a cave. They find Atherton, a survivor from a previous expedition who can explain the presence of the gold and a young pirate left for dead by the current pirates. Those pirates come ashore looking for the treasure. In the background, the neighbourhood volcano is getting ready to explode.
The plot just keeps on getting sillier. The bird kidnapping (straight out of ONE MILLION BC) is badly handled and the commando raid on the pirate ship is utter pantomime - with Vinnie Jones as the dame.
The creatures are conspicuous by their absence, but the bird is the worst yet. The attack by the giant tentacle (squid or octopus, take your pick) has all the potential to be thrilling, but is over almost before it begins, another victim of the tv-sized budget. The spiders aren't bad though. The cataclysmic end of the island isn't very cataclysmic and just about sums up the underwhelming nature of this mini-series.
Do yourself a favour and check out the Harryhausen film version instead.Top
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