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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great addition to the Nemo legacy.

Author: SanDiego
12 October 2000

I am a fan of Jules Verne and was introduced to his works via the films that came out in the 50's in 60's (wasn't everybody?) I was born in 1958 but the impact of Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in 1954 followed in rapid succession by "Around the World in Eighty Days" in 1956, "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1958, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 1959, "The Mysterious Island" and "Master of the World" in 1961, and "Five Weeks in a Balloon" and Disney's "In Search of the Castaways" in 1962 played an important part of my youth. There have been other film adaptations of Jules Verne's stories since, but it is these earlier films that captured my imagination and set the standard for future adventure films. Since cinema and novels are two different mediums it is unfair to compare one to the other, especially with such visual temptations built into the storyline, but I suppose it is fair to compare one film version to another. What I look for in any remake (especially when the original is very good) is if the director and writer can add anything new...are they inspired by the original to add their own twist in the flavor of the author. This can be really fun in this type of film.

Recently, there was a TV remake of Melville's "Moby Dick" that was a virtual scene by scene retelling of the classic 1956 film starring Gregory Peck (which in turn was a remake of a 1930 film starring John Barrymore). The later two films were faithful to the novel whereas the earlier version changed the ending to be more upbeat. At least one could enjoy the first two films on their own merits (the lead performances of Peck and Barrymore were virtually night and day). As far as the TV "Moby Dick" went, there was very little reason to see it with regards to new storylines or character developments. The only curiosity was seeing Peck play the small role that Orson Welles played in the 1956 version. So I LOOK for variations, something new, a different way of looking at the story, or perhaps a part of the story that was not fleshed out previously. Imagination should go hand in hand with the name Jules Verne.

There have been sequels based on Verne's own Nemo sequel ("Mysterious Island"), "inspired" sequels ("Captain Nemo and the Underwater City"), futuristic versions ("Nautilus"), and even futuristic "inspired" versions ("The Black Hole"). I am such a fan of the genre that even a cheesy version will hold my attention for the mere fun of it (as fans, such as myself, of the different versions of Doyle's "The Lost World" do!)

In this case we have the first re-make of the original story of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" since Disney's 1954 classic (it had been filmed before as silent films in 1907 and 1916). Curiously a second 1997 TV version starring Michael Caine came out at the exact same time which confuses everything so let's consider that in an alternate Universe. I like this remake despite the fact that it seems to have a heavy influence from James Cameron's "Titanic," most notably the romance. But this is film entertainment and it seemed to add something...why not? The novel introduces us to Professor Aronnax and his young male assistant who go off in search of a sea monster attacking ships in the North Pacific. When Disney adapted the story they kept the gender of the assistant but aged him into a role suitable for actor Peter Lorre. This film keeps the age in tact but changes the gender...and relationship to the Professor (Richard Crenna), by introducing us to his beautiful daughter Sophie (played perfectly by the beautiful Julie Cox). At first she must pretend to be his young male assistant to even be allowed on board the USS Lincoln in search of the sea monster. Julie Cox in male drag could have passed for a teenaged Elijah Wood and there was a neat little look from handsome stud-sailor Ned Land (Paul Gross) to the Professor and the ship's captain when he seemed to be thinking "are you two crazy? This is a girl!." By the way, that was my exact reaction to Elijah Wood when I saw him in the remake of "Flipper!"

Unlike other film versions much more time is spent prior to the actual meeting of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus. We get a feel of the time period on board an ornate passenger ship (our first introduction to the Titanic influence) and on land. It isn't long before the Professor, his daughter, and sailor Ned Land (for those keeping track, Kirk Douglas in the Disney version) are thrown off the deck of the USS Lincoln from a ramming by Captain Nemo (Ben Cross) and his metallic "sea creature." The sets of the Nautilus are cold and grey with great iron bolts and the cold grey uniforms worn on board are reminiscent of 20th century Communist military uniforms. There is something very cold war Russian when Captain Nemo (with neatly trimmed beard) and his men stand atop the submarine staring off toward the oncoming American warship in a thick grey mist. Even Nemo's organ (an ornate pipe organ in the Disney film) is just a plain little organ. But there are rooms of incredible museum collections decorating the submarine, salvaged from shipwrecks that add the richness one would expect. Best addition of all is a series of large circular view ports that allow the actors to look out into the vast oceans. Ben Cross does a credible job as Nemo in this context, a bit cold, a bit distant, dangerous. He is at home among his jeweled possessions in the same way a shark is at home against colorful coral waiting for his prey. But he is also human, and his reasons for attacking ships has changed from the original novel to one of revenge. Despite all of this Nemo and the Professor become friends and the two plan to have young Sophie marry Nemo (a plot device lifted from 1969's "Captain Nemo and the Underwater City.") Nemo also wants Ned Land dead to end any speculation of a relationship between Ned and Sophie. On an expedition outside the submarine Nemo sets Ned up for certain death. Those plot devices along with a different look for the Nautilus and a brisk pace by the director were plenty to please me and become a welcome chapter in the Nemo world.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Open you eyes and see the beauty around you.

8/10
Author: ozthegreatat42330 from Central City, Kentucky
19 April 2007

A beautifully mounted version of Jules Verne's classic. Unlike the Disney version of the fifties this one offers an understanding of Nemo's reasons for his actions. The photography was masterful and the music was sublime. Richard Crenna once again rises to the occasion and Ben Cross is outstanding as the master of the Nautilus. Julie Cox had not yet quite developed the excellence of performance that she would later with Children of Dune, but still brought much to her role as Sophie. It is true that there were a few weak spots in the storyline, but nothing that could deserve the negative reviews that I have read here. This Nemo was always true to who he set out to be, unlike James Mason's Nemo who too shallow. All in all a visual splendor.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Lunch bag-let-down

1/10
Author: oigres from Burlington, Ontario
26 June 2002

After watching the 1954 version numerous times and having read the novel several times, I was very disappointed with this version. The class, the atmosphere and acting were no where to be found. These days they'll do anything to make a fast buck! Stick to the 54' version, it may be campy but by a longer "league" than this version will ever hope to be.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Passable adaptation based on Jules Verne's classic novel with good cast

6/10
Author: ma-cortes
11 December 2010

New take on for TV with agreeable casting and an acceptable Ben Cross as Nemo. The film talks about the known story from Jules Verne novel and previously rendered in the classic by Richard Fleischer . The oceans are no longer safe , many ships have been lost, the sailors have returned to New England's fishing port with tales of vicious giant whale with long horn . Admiral Selling (Michael Jayston) assigns to naturist, biologist expert named professor Pierre Aronnax ( Richard Crenna in the role of Paul Lukas) a dangerous mission . Aronnax , her daughter as helper , along with a professional whaler named Ned Land( Paul Gross in the character of Kirk Douglas) join forces in an expedition that attempts to unravel the mysterious sinking ships by an unknown creature . Aboard the ship called USS Abrahan Lincoln , they go out to investigate . At sea, Professor Aronnax was aboard the ship 'Abraham Lincoln' when Nautilus rammed it and threw the Professor, his daughter and Ned Land into the water .Their ship is sunk and are captured and get thoroughly involved with captain Nemo ( Ben Cross in the role of James Mason) and take an extraordinary adventure underseas in an advanced submarine called Nautilus. Prisoners at first, they are now treated as guests to view the underwater world and to hunt under the waves. Nemo will also tells them about the Nautilus and the revenge that has driven him for all these years .

This fantastic TV movie displays sensational adventures, drama, intrigue, marvelous scenarios and is pretty enjoyable. Surprise-filled entertainment and with plenty of action on grand scale with good special effects made by a computer generator and some ship and submarine by maquette or scale model . However, overlong runtime is not boring but is entertaining and amusing . Memorable and likable cast as Ben Cross plays a captain Nemo who falls in love with the Annorax's daughter ; Richard Crenna plays perfectly to Annorax while in Disney version was an old Paul Lukas ; attractive Julie Cox in a new role, she has a loving triangle with Nemo and Ned Land played by Paul Gross who is an obstinate, stubborn young , just like Kirk Douglas . Atmospheric and vivid score by John Scott. Colorful cinematography by Alan Hume reflecting wonderfully underwater scenes . This TV picture is well produced by Robert Halmi Sr from ¨Hallmark , Hall of fame¨ TV , which has produced several films and series about historical happenings and known personages , as : Cleopatra, Odyssea(Ulises), Hercules , Jason and the Argonauts, Joan of Arc, Lion in Winter( Henry II and Leonor Aquitania), Prince and pauper( Henry VIII and Edward VI ), and numerous retelling based on famous novels .

The television movie is correctly directed by Michael Anderson. Other versions from the classic story are an old mute (1916) by Stuart Paton , the best adaptation by Richard Flescher and for TV directed by Rod Hardy with Michael Caine and Richard Crenna , furthermore a cartoon movie directed by Arthur Rankin.The motion picture will appeal to fantasy-adventure buffs.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

major disappointment

3/10
Author: tstallings from Houston Texas
6 June 2004

I rented this video remembering how much I enjoyed the original as a kid. I saw it in the video store and thought I would rent it so I could share the same experience with my kids. They were not able to watch more than a half of the movie. Can't blame them, I wasn't able to either. Lousy sets, paper thin acting, it seems like everyone from the director to the actors were just going through the motions. Rent the original. Singled out for particular disdain is the actress portraying Sophie - Julie Cox. Was she dating the director? Who cast her? She could have sunk this dog all by herself. Poor Richard Crenna, he gives his best in the movie, but is surrounded by lousy actors all around.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great addition to the Nemo legacy.

Author: SanDiego from The Beach
12 October 2000

I am a fan of Jules Verne and was introduced to his works via the films that came out in the 50's in 60's (wasn't everybody?) I was born in 1958 but the impact of Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in 1954 followed in rapid succession by "Around the World in Eighty Days" in 1956, "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1958, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 1959, "The Mysterious Island" and "Master of the World" in 1961, and "Five Weeks in a Balloon" and Disney's "In Search of the Castaways" in 1962 played an important part of my youth. There have been other film adaptations of Jules Verne's stories since, but it is these earlier films that captured my imagination and set the standard for future adventure films. Since cinema and novels are two different mediums it is unfair to compare one to the other, especially with such visual temptations built into the storyline, but I suppose it is fair to compare one film version to another. What I look for in any remake (especially when the original is very good) is if the director and writer can add anything new...are they inspired by the original to add their own twist in the flavor of the author. This can be really fun in this type of film.

Recently, there was a TV remake of Melville's "Moby Dick" that was a virtual scene by scene retelling of the classic 1956 film starring Gregory Peck (which in turn was a remake of a 1930 film starring John Barrymore). The later two films were faithful to the novel whereas the earlier version changed the ending to be more upbeat. At least one could enjoy the first two films on their own merits (the lead performances of Peck and Barrymore were virtually night and day). As far as the TV "Moby Dick" went, there was very little reason to see it with regards to new storylines or character developments. The only curiosity was seeing Peck play the small role that Orson Welles played in the 1956 version. So I LOOK for variations, something new, a different way of looking at the story, or perhaps a part of the story that was not fleshed out previously. Imagination should go hand in hand with the name Jules Verne.

There have been sequels based on Verne's own Nemo sequel ("Mysterious Island"), "inspired" sequels ("Captain Nemo and the Underwater City"), futuristic versions ("Nautilus"), and even futuristic "inspired" versions ("The Black Hole"). I am such a fan of the genre that even a cheesy version will hold my attention for the mere fun of it (as fans, such as myself, of the different versions of Doyle's "The Lost World" do!)

In this case we have the first re-make of the original story of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" since Disney's 1954 classic (it had been filmed before as silent films in 1907 and 1916). Curiously a second 1997 TV version starring Michael Caine came out at the exact same time which confuses everything so let's consider that in an alternate Universe. I like this remake despite the fact that it seems to have a heavy influence from James Cameron's "Titanic," most notably the romance. But this is film entertainment and it seemed to add something...why not? The novel introduces us to Professor Aronnax and his young male assistant who go off in search of a sea monster attacking ships in the North Pacific. When Disney adapted the story they kept the gender of the assistant but aged him into a role suitable for actor Peter Lorre. This film keeps the age in tact but changes the gender...and relationship to the Professor (Richard Crenna), by introducing us to his beautiful daughter Sophie (played perfectly by the beautiful Julie Cox). At first she must pretend to be his young male assistant to even be allowed on board the USS Lincoln in search of the sea monster. Julie Cox in male drag could have passed for a teenaged Elijah Wood and there was a neat little look from handsome stud-sailor Ned Land (Paul Gross) to the Professor and the ship's captain when he seemed to be thinking "are you two crazy? This is a girl!." By the way, that was my exact reaction to Elijah Wood when I saw him in the remake of "Flipper!"

Unlike other film versions much more time is spent prior to the actual meeting of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus. We get a feel of the time period on board an ornate passenger ship (our first introduction to the Titanic influence) and on land. It isn't long before the Professor, his daughter, and sailor Ned Land (for those keeping track, Kirk Douglas in the Disney version) are thrown off the deck of the USS Lincoln from a ramming by Captain Nemo (Ben Cross) and his metallic "sea creature." The sets of the Nautilus are cold and grey with great iron bolts and the cold grey uniforms worn on board are reminiscent of 20th century Communist military uniforms. There is something very cold war Russian when Captain Nemo (with neatly trimmed beard) and his men stand atop the submarine staring off toward the oncoming American warship in a thick grey mist. Even Nemo's organ (an ornate pipe organ in the Disney film) is just a plain little organ. But there are rooms of incredible museum collections decorating the submarine, salvaged from shipwrecks that add the richness one would expect. Best addition of all is a series of large circular view ports that allow the actors to look out into the vast oceans. Ben Cross does a credible job as Nemo in this context, a bit cold, a bit distant, dangerous. He is at home among his jeweled possessions in the same way a shark is at home against colorful coral waiting for his prey. But he is also human, and his reasons for attacking ships has changed from the original novel to one of revenge. Despite all of this Nemo and the Professor become friends and the two plan to have young Sophie marry Nemo (a plot device lifted from 1969's "Captain Nemo and the Underwater City.") Nemo also wants Ned Land dead to end any speculation of a relationship between Ned and Sophie. On an expedition outside the submarine Nemo sets Ned up for certain death. Those plot devices along with a different look for the Nautilus and a brisk pace by the director were plenty to please me and become a welcome chapter in the Nemo world.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A romance?!!?

Author: Jim Elek from Detroit, MI, USA
29 April 2004

I cannot believe that they tried to make a romance out of this story! I truly wanted to barf every time the love triangle between Sophie, Nemo, and Ned reared its ugly head!

It was disappointing that so many of the elements from the novel and previous movies were missing in favor of this sappy romance.

Then, they ruin the potentially best part of the movie by replacing the giant squid with a reject from a Godzilla movie!

I will admit that there were some good things. First, the design of the Nautilus was right on the money as were the sets and the costumes. It is a shame that the story didn't do them justice.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

not Disney but a new adaptation that is faithful to the novel

8/10
Author: RichardWeddle from United States
15 February 2009

If you are used to Disney's version of this Jules Verne classic, this Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV special will take some getting used to. It's different, but in a good way. It is not a remake, but an altogether new adaptation by one Joe Wiesenfeld, who has clearly studied the novel carefully and crafted a script that is faithful to Jules Verne's original intent and exposition while cutting to the chase. The emphasis falls in different places than in the Disney film and at a faster pace, but it maintains a sense of wonder and adventure. Wiesenfeld is attentive to character and motivation and crafts a script that makes good dramatic sense. The biggest change -- making the doctor's assistant his daughter -- is necessary in modern times and most welcome, especially because she is played by the lovely and talented Julie Cox. Other women are glimpsed among the crew of the Nautalis, bringing the film up-to-date in period dress. The classically trained English actor Ben Cross was an excellent choice for Capt. Nemo. He is absolutely believable as the tragic and haunted Captain who recognizes no boundaries in the sea or his own conduct. All the contradictions and conflicts of the character are conveyed with subtlety by Ben Cross. Richard Crenna brings gravitas and presence to the role of Prof Aronex. The production design and costuming redefine the utilitarian world of the Nautalis as a ship we can believe in. The cinematography is by the great Alan Hume, and the direction by Hollywood veteran Michael Anderson (The Quiller Memorandum, Logan's Run) is both pictorial and dramatically engaging. This is a well-produced and legitimate version of Jules Verne's novel. It is not Disney, which may be taken as an advantage.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

T.L.U.T.S., with a woman on board? Yes! Intriguing and entertaining

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
14 July 2011

Professor Arronax (Richard Crenna) is a marine biology expert in the middle of the 19th century. His daughter, Sophie (Julie Cox) is vastly educated in sea life, too, but in this century, there are not many openings for female professors. One day, the United States government approaches the prof, for there is trouble abrew in the world's oceans. A strange creature is stalking the waters and sinking ships. Could the learned man get on board a naval vessel and help investigate? Naturally, Sophie is NOT invited but she disguises herself as a male assistant named Charlie by cutting her hair and dressing for the part. Once in the open waters, the creature is spotted and a skirmish unfolds, one that leaves Arronax, Sophie and a harpoonist, Ned (Paul Gross) floating dangerously on the surface. All of sudden, help arrives. A new type of boat, a submarine named Nautilus, rises up and saves the trio. Captained by an officer named Nemo (Ben Cross), it is a one of a kind vehicle causing the three new guests to ooh and aah. What dazzling views of the sea creatures and what a smooth ride! Nemo himself is a puzzle, for he is obviously a genius, having built the craft, but he is also arrogant and dictatorial. It isn't long before he discovers Sophie's true identity and the Captain falls hard for the lovely miss. But, since she may have her eyes on Ned, will this be another love triangle, down in the depths? Also, what about the mysterious creature that is still lurking in the waters? The Nautilus seems unsinkable but, is it? We shall see! This new version of the Verne classic is intriguing and entertaining. How brilliant to have a woman worked into the plot, for it is a nice change of pace. Crenna, Cox, Cross, Gross and all of the other cast members do mighty fine work. Then, too, the underwater scenery and the design of the Nautilus are absolutely wonderful. Costumes, photography, adapted script and direction all work together nicely, also. Yes, purists may object, but, in this viewer's mind, any new version of the story which sends folks to the library or bookstores to seek out Verne's amazing body of work is well worth a little tweaking.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A nice afternoon film

Author: Alison Smith (sheldons@cwcom.net) from Woking, England
26 May 1999

When I saw that this film was going to be shown on Channel 5 one afternoon, my first thought was why have I heard of this version before and where? I have to admit that the only reason I watched this film was to see Paul Gross as Ned Land. That is a reason to watch this film alone. It is not supposed to be believable but it was doing quite well until the giant seafish appeared and from then it went slightly downhill. Ben Cross as Captain Nemo is a wonderful baddie although you are left with the question is he that bad?

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