I Saw A film!

A kind of Jules Verne crossed with Japanese fantasy film from Toho Studios. Sadly the actual print transfer suffers considerably and is sometimes headache inducing. Though, if you use your imagination you can kind of intuit what you’re meant to imagine is happening. Always a good film technique. Just imagine what would be a cool film!

Deep under the Pacific Ocean and extending for vast distances is the underwater nation of Mu. Unfortunately, despite their seemingly endless costumed floor show, and very cute queen, they are dedicated to world domination through the use of their potent monsters. They themselves are only armed with spears even though they apparently have mastered steam technology employed in a massive power center.

Like many of these Japanese fantasy movies, when you signed up you were looking for a sea monster, of course, you’ll just have to be patient as the story about the estranged father – daughter emotions play out. You see dad is still fighting “the war” 20 years on, and he and his amazing submarine are residents of the Mu kingdom. There’s a bit of horseplay about secret agents of Mu coming ashore and some other tomfoolery we really don’t care about. Eventually a commanding officer of the captain of the super cool sub is enlisted to try to bring the old warhorse back. Of course, the lovely daughter is dragged along on the mission as well!

The submarine is a true Jules Verne creation, it not only floats and easily cruises below the surface, but the sucker flies and drills into the earth! Verne basically created such a vehicle for one of his old stories and postulated the owner of such a machine would naturally be an untouchable master of the world (title of the story). This takes a little while to approach as the film has some other plots to shove down our throats first (The Toho folks know we’re there for the monsters and they’re not just going to let us have our fill as we like!). So there’s some arguments, a sad-faced daughter, and then we go to Mu, where we get Land of Lost style super imposition of cute white clad people running rapidly about and waving their arms.

Our heroes are captured and the queen decides to sacrifice them to the sea monster (Yes! Finally!). However, in a hilarious turning of the tables that required only the mildest of resistance, they escape with the captured queen! While most of the special effects are of the quite laughable old school sort, when you’ve had a lot of experience with these sorts of films they don’t really offend your sensibilities. You understand what they intend and play along. Of course, there are limits to how far we can keep our own version of the movie in our heads while trying to watch theirs.

The finale includes a massively destructive sea monster that spews such a destructive projectile offense that nearly all the toys in the studio are blown up. The cute Queen refuses to accept that she’s been defeated (like any real devotee to a righteous cause) and eventually is allowed some pity. Ka-boom! Of course the monsters are just puppets, and their jiggle and wiggle gives away their actual status as toys pretty easily, but I love them all the same. In many ways the camp is far more fun than the millions spent on incredibly realistic CGI all the rage these days. What is reality anyway? Is it necessary for a good movie?

This runs free on Prime, but be prepared it’s a bit of a slog and parts of it, especially those meant to be lit dramatically, are quite hard to actually discern. The old film is a struggle to actually see at times, I’m sorry to say.

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