I can just imagine the marketing department at Fox scouring its archives for products it can tie in with today’s environmental concerns. The “Global Warming” edition of the Voyage movie is a rather obvious repackaging of an old product with a glitzy extra or two, but the association with climate change is a stretch. In the movie, the sky catches fire and Earth’s temperatures rise dramatically. Global warming, indeed.
I was happy to see the movie released with extras such as an isolated music track, commentary, and production gallery, but disappointed with the quality of each of the features. The music track is well recorded, but unlike the special edition of “Fantastic Voyage,” there’s no dialog to fill the passages which have no music. Long stretches of silence are the result.
With the commentary playing, I found myself groaning every time Voyage “expert” Tim Colliver launched into another of his glib ad-libs, which were riddled with obvious grammatical errors and verbal gaffs. Colliver mispronounces “depth” “Depp” – as in Johnny Depp – twice. He trips over his tongue, then ironically notes that he “talks for a living.” I hope he saves his money. Colliver also points out that he feels obligated to tell us the differences between the Voyage movie and novelization… and vice versa!
While the video quality of the film is excellent on this DVD, it is no better than on the version backed with “Fantastic Voyage” which Fox released several years ago. If you already own that version, there is no need to replace it with this one. If you need to spend money, buy Fantastic Voyage (Special Edition) instead. Now THAT’s how you do a commentary!
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Viewing Irwin Allen’s sci fi drama “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, recently after many years was like going back in time to the days when I would race home from school to see the next exciting episode of the popular series that this film spun off into. Viewed critically by viewers nowadays for the simple special effects and often absurd science on display, I see it rather as simply a very enjoyable 100 minutes of good old fashioned science fiction which for the time was very state of the art. Remarkably the film still holds up well for the most part with the great Seaview atomic submarine and the still quite frightening effects of the sky being on fire and melting the Polar Caps, being the real standouts in terms of special effects technology. For a film of this type it has a quite memorable cast in acting veterans Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre, and Henry Daniell combining very well with such “younger generation” performers as Frankie Avalon, Barbara Eden and Michael Ansara.
The story opens with the new state of the art submarine, the “Seaview”, captained by Admiral Nelson (Walter Pidgeon), doing some research work near the North Pole when a catastrophe of world wide significance occurs when resulting from some unusual meteorite fallings the Van Allen Radiation Belt surrounding the Earth’s atmosphere catches on fire encircling the planet in a fiery mass that sends temperatures soaring up to 130 degrees. Called back to New York to a meeting on the UN Admiral Nelson with the assistance of Com. Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre), works out a scheme whereby shooting a missile from the Seaview at a certain point and time into the radiation belt will extinguish the fiery mass. Convinced of his theory Nelson meets strong opposition from most Un delegates who feel it will burn itself out when it reaches a certain temperature. Capt. Nelson decides to taking it upon himself to ensure that the missile is fired at the appointed time and taking his crew and a reluctant visitor , Dr. Hiller (Joan Fontaine), along on the dangerous mission, the Captain encounters many difficulties along the way to the North Pole. Admiral Nelson becomes increasingly tyrannical in his leadership as he contends with an increasingly cynical offsider in Capt. Crane (Robert Sterling), dangerous mine fields, a pursuing submarine sent out by the UN to hunt the Seaview down if necessary and on board an unknown saboteur who seems intent upon ruining his plans to fire off the missile. Finally after half the crew decide to go no further and attempt to return home on an abandoned ship and the remaining skeleton crew experience a tense stand off with a bomb carrying religious zealot Miguel (Michael Ansara), who they had picked up off the ice, the missile is finally shot off at the appointed time proving Admiral Nelson’s theory correct that the radiation belt would not burn itself out and could only be destroyed by a nuclear blast at its centre.
While certainly no cinema classic “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, does take itself very seriously which gives the story a certain ring of authenticity despite some of the questionable science employed. Earnest performances combined with good special effects for the time greatly aid in making the story seem a bit more memorable than what probably it actually deserves. Walter Pidgeon a veteran of countless Hollywood classics takes a distinct change of pace here from his earlier famous collaborations at MGM with such people as Greer Garson, and turns in a convincing performance as the Admiral who literally shanghai’s the Seaview in a mad dash to prove his theory on how to destroy the flaming Van Allen Radiation Belt. His performance turns from affable to increasing manic as the deadline for firing the missile approaches and makes for an interesting depiction of how a man’s mind can snap under pressure. Fellow veteran Joan Fontaine while at times looking a trifle uncomfortable in her role of the psychiatrist who is unwillingly involved in the mission still manages to bring conviction even to the highly silly premise of when she takes matters into her own hands and Hollywood legend Peter Lorre making what must be one of his last performances as Admiral Nelson’s offsider in the scheme to fire the missile, delivers his usual capable performance. Being the 1960′s Producer Irwin Allen having his eyes on the booming teen market made sure that the cast was sprinkled with upcoming faces such as Barbara Eden (Pre “I Dream of Jeannie), and singing heart throb Frankie Avalon who also sings the oddly out of place theme song. At first glance they may appear slightly out of place on a nuclear submarine however Barbara Eden in particular does a reasonably good job as the young love interest to Capt. Crane while also managing very well in getting about the submarine in dangerously tall high heels! Irwin Allen did enjoy great success with his special effects in this film and the sight of the…
Sure, the science is implausible. But this film employs enough plot devises and not-half-bad special effects to make it a real party flick. The two real treats in the film: (1)An aging but always fascinating to watch Peter Lorre, chain-smoking his way through some pretty dumb lines, and (2) Barbara Eden in a skin-tight naval “uniform,” as the admiral’s personal assistant, jiggling about the submarine, and even going topside, in 6-inch spike high heels. What fun!