While most critics, and fans alike, consider Harryhausen's "Jason and the Argonauts" (released two years later) to be the apex of the special effects master's career, "Mysterious Island" stands as one of his best, also. Loosely based on the Jules Verne 19th century novel, the film boasts some memorable special effects wizardry: an awesome escape from a Confederate prison via balloon, the giant crab, the prehistoric "chicken," the bees, and a cool Nautilus - closely resembling Disney's version from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." The cast is good, beginning with Michael Craig as the leader of the band of island dwellers. Gary Merrill, who at once was the husband of legend Bette Davis, as well as her co-star in "All About Eve," is effective as the war correspondent that serves as the voice of reason among the band, along with being the group's cook. Herbert Lom does a great "Nemo," significantly different from James Mason's interpretation in the Disney classic. English actress Joan Greenwood is appropriately aristocratic as "Lady Fairchild." But, it is Harryhausen's effects, along with Bernard Herrmann's brilliant score, that elevate this to one of the best fantasies of the 60's.
Filmed at a brisk pace, the story never lets up, keeping the viewer captivated until the thrilling conclusion.