Mysterious Island (1961)

Genres - Adventure, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Disaster Film, Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Dec 20, 1961 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The cinematic equivalent of a good old British "ripping yarn," Mysterious Island takes a great deal of liberties with the Jules Verne story upon which it is based. The result is not vintage Verne, but it's a fun-filled Saturday afternoon-type adventure film that young boys (of all ages) will enjoy. The plot doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's not really supposed to; all it needs to do is provide a few excuses for some neat-o Ray Harryhausen giant animals. While these are far less sophisticated than what one expects in current films, they are very good for the period and have a certain strange power to them. The sequence involving the giant bees is especially well done. Equally impressive is the lengthy balloon flight/storm sequence that opens the picture. In between the adventure sequences, the film bogs down; dialogue and character development are not among its strong points, nor is the explanation for why these giant creatures exist particularly credible. In general, the acting takes second place to the special effects, although Herbert Lom is quite amusing and Joan Greenwood has some very good moments. Bernard Herrmann's score is excellent, as always, and adds tremendously to the adventure segments. Mysterious Island is not a great film, but it's a great deal of fun.