Based on Jules Vern's classic novel, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is the story of five men escaping from a Confederate prison in an observation balloon. When they land the balloon, they find themselves on a South Seas island where they encounter pirates, a giant bird, a giant crab and even Captain Nemo.
Jules Verne's classic adventure is perfectly matched with Ray Harryhausen's timeless movie magic in Mysterious Island
. Based on Verne's sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
, this rousing Civil War-era fantasy begins when a band of Union war prisoners (and one Confederate straggler) escape in a hot-air balloon, which crash-lands on the titular island of mystery. Verne's novel doesn't include any gigantic creatures, but Harryhausen's version--under the capable direction of genre specialist Cy Endfield--features giant oysters, bees, a prehistoric Phororhacos (a giant chickenlike bird!), an undersea cephalopod, a giant crab, and enough danger to keep its resourceful ensemble on constant alert. Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom, ably filling James Mason's shoes) is a third-act hero, pursuing an ill-fated dream to save humanity from hunger and war. The action may be too intense for younger viewers, but Endfield's pacing and Harryhausen's stop-motion mastery make Mysterious Island
a wondrous precursor to Harryhausen's follow-up classic, Jason and the Argonauts
. --Jeff Shannon