Mysterious Island (TV 2005 Miniseries)

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This version of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island by Echo Bridge is dubbed “The Most Thrilling Adventure Unknown To Man” by them on the DVD cover and in the promotional material as well. The miniseries does have some thrills but not as much as you would expect with the name Jules Verne in the title. While the show was entertaining and a good addition to any DVD collection it did have some drawbacks that had nothing to do with the story or main character acting. Most of the problems were with the special effects that were used in the film. You see volcano smoke that is not firmly anchored to the top of the mountings, the bottom of the smoke cloud kept moving around. While I understand that smoke does move it does not shift at the top of a hole when it is filling the entire hole. Something like that is not possible, not even in a fantasy setting. Also the blue/green screening was not well executed, the action being filmed was not tracked correctly by the special effects team. It is things like this that you need to try and forget when watching the film. Unfortunately they did a good job with the spiders, I really hate spiders. The rate was fair but the speed it was running did not match up with the landscape like it should and the snake was a bit too rubber looking but was better then the snakes that were seen in other films that we have reviewed.

The only bad acting in the film would be that of the pirates. I know Verne saw pirates like the ones from the Barbary Coast but these pirates look like they walked off the back lot of the Vegas Pirate show. These pirates also had that idiotic “Argh” throaty dialog, trying to make them sound like the classical 16th and 17th century pirate. Many of the pirates were just plain bad actors, at least the ones with lines, the rest were stunt people that knew how to fall down well. Caribbean pirates in the Indian Ocean just do not fit well at all. Another glaring mark on what could have been an excellent film if not for the bad pirates and the poor effects department.

As to the location, the location for the film was fantastic and beautiful. Even the caves you saw made you want to visit the place. Even the palatial cave of Nemo was warm and inviting. The backdrop that they used for this film was truly inspired and made the film work. At least the got that right, if they would have tried to do this as a studio film it would not have even been worth the plastic the DVD was wrapped in. They went to great pains to get the areas to look right as a set crew should. You can not fault them at all for the physical props, I am so glad that they did not let the computer graphics crew work on the set props. One thing the computer graphics crew should have done was to edit out the very modern cargo barge that was seen in one scene. The QA team missed the boat, literally, on that one spot as well as a few other minor spots here and there.

Now to the story itself, I have to admit that I have yet to read Mysterious Island but as a film the story stands on its own. We see Captain Nemo several years after his exploits in the book 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Patrick Stewart plays a strong representation of Captain Nemo. Nemo has retreated to this deserted island to complete his research. He believes that if the threat of total annihilation is presented to the world that the world will stop all its wars to keep that from happening. Nemo is building a radioactive bomb that could be used to destroy an entire city. Verne actually dreamed up an atomic bomb in this book years before one was ever built. Verne was a real visionary that made others through time make his dreams a reality. Nemo is Verne’s mad scientist that actually has a soul. It is in this work that we learn why the Nautilus was built and what actually happened to his family. Nemo is a scared man that has lost all touch with reality and it is only his man servant Joseph, played by Roy Marsden that keeps him even remotely in this world.

The film starts in a Confederate prison camp, it is here that we meet the people that are going to be the main characters of the film. We have Captain Cyrus, we never knew his last name, played by Kyle MacLachlan. He is a troubled Union soldier that wants to see the war done and over with. A war that he desperately wants to forget since some of his decisions cause the death of so many, both Union and Confederate. Neb, played by Omar Gooding is Cyrus’s good friend as well as a soldier for the Union. Neb is also a black person or slave boy as he is called by the Confederates. That brings us to Captain Pencroff who is also a prisoner in the camp. Jason Durr plays the weaselly Pencroff who was arrested for embezzlement and is a greedy whinny lazy individual and that is kind describing his character. Now for the beauty in the party, that is Jane, played by Gabrielle Anwar and the daughter Helen played by Danielle Calvert. Both of these ladies worked in the hospital tent that was at the prison camp. Cyrus has feeling for them and he is determined to see that they are safely removed from danger. It is on a stormy rainy night that the 6 of them steal a Confederate Scout Balloon to escape their captors.

After days of floating against the trade winds, Verne’s error not the films, they find themselves marooned on the Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo. This in no ordinary volcanic island, this isle is full of gigantic creatures and insects that would make any person quake in their shoes. I will give props to the special effects department for the insects, they did them better then the other CGI work that they did. One of them had to have been an entomologist. Just before the 6 reached the island Cyrus jumps out of the balloon so the rest can make it to shore. It is Cyrus that first meets Joseph and Nemo and eventually convinces them to go look for his friends. Shortly there after Nemo throws them all out to the wilds of the island because Cyrus would not help in the construction of the radioactive device that Nemo is trying to build. They find themselves a good cave for shelter and start working on ways to survive as well as to escape the island. Its not only the animals and insects that they have to worry about but that of pirates as well.

It seems that the island is also home or the resting place of a treasure trove called Isabelle’s Gold and the pirates are looking for it. From the tone of the film we know that pirates keep coming to the island to be able to find the gold but none have been able to get to it. The creatures of the island keep killing them off but it seems that there is always one person to escape to keep the legend of the gold alive. The legends are also what keep many pirates from ever coming back as they value their own skins. The crazy ones like Bob Barty, played by Vinnie Jones just keep coming back with different crews and trying again and again to get the treasure. Him and Pencroff are both greedy and lust for gold.

This film has its ups and downs as far as quality but it is a decent film that is watchable more then once. Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island by Echo Bridge and Hallmark Entertainment is a decent enough film to have in any Verne film collection.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆