Neat premise but but writing and bad underwater effects consign this to kid's stuff.
The idea behind "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" was pretty cool and could have worked very well. Imagine...a super submarine controlled by a super-genius that is called upon to save the world....cool stuff. But so much of the film came off badly...especially the dialog and underwater effects. Because of this, I could see kids enjoying it but adults simply suffering through it.
Before I say more, however, I should point out that I have never seen the television show that this movie spawned. I did grow up during the 60s and 70s and the show was re-run on TV often but for some reason I never bothered watching the program. How close this movie is to the show, I have no idea. I do know that the case was quite different.
As for the plot. The the Van Allen Belt has somehow gone wonky. As a result, the Earth begins heating up and unless something stops this, we're all gonna die. At a meeting at the UN, the Admiral (Walter Pidgeon) announces a plan...to take his submarine to the Marianas and launch a missile into space with a nuclear bomb...to blow the Belt away from the Earth and save everyone. However, a really stupid scientist argues that the best thing to do is nothing...even though folks are dying all over the planet he says that the fiery skies will reverse themselves eventually(???). The Admiral ignores this idiot and sets sail for the Marianas to complete his mission.
During the rest of the film, a crew of well-trained navy men all begin acting VERY unprofessional, threaten mutiny and act like idiots. Many of the crew want to return home to die with their families...instead of trying to save the planet!! This makes no sense at all nor do the folks who suddenly start trying to sabotage the sub! Think about it, the sub is the only hope of the planet and about half the people on the sub want to scuttle the mission. Does this make ANY sense?! Of course not...nor does the dialog make any sense either.
The bottom line for me is that Irwin Allen films had big spectacle and explosions...but often the dialog and characters were completely one-dimensional like they are here. Add the garish underwater scenes to the mix and you have a movie that simply misses the mark.
Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird5 / 10
A silly and not particularly exciting sea voyage
Saw 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' as somebody who considers the cast very talented and who has liked some of Irwin Allen's other films (i.e. 'The Towering Inferno' and 'The Poseidon Adventure' that he produced). The premise was great also.
'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' unfortunately is not one of Allen's better efforts though and doesn't live up to its great premise. It's one of the more famous submarine films but for me not one of the best ones. This saddens me to say that, absolutely no vindictiveness here, because there was a lot of talent on board, who can go wrong with Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lorre and Joan Fontaine. Can see why some people find it entertaining and why others find it underwhelming, but it generally didn't do much for me.
Starting with the positives, the submarine is quite rightly the star here and a very big one it is too. It is aided by some colourful and atmospheric cinematography. The lively music score also adds a lot and the theme song is a memorable one and a deserving one.
The film's underwater sequences look pretty good still and while ridiculous the climax is entertaining. Generally the cast are not used to their full potential, but Walter Pidgeon is good in the lead, while Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden add some charm to the proceedings.
Peter Lorre on the other hand is criminally underutilised and looked like he was in ill health. Like Joan Fontaine a lot, but she was out of her depth and out of place while the rest of the cast were better off not being there. While the underwater sequences don't look too bad, they generally lack excitement and go on far longer than they needed to, also not placed very well. Some of the effects, like the octopus, look really hokey now.
Furthermore, the pace tends to be ponderous, trimming the underwater sequences would have helped, the film is too long and the direction is stodgy. Add to that a silly and too talky script and a story that lacks suspense, surprises and excitement and falls on the wrong side of daft and nonsensical constantly and you have a far from terrible but very problematic film.
Recommended for a one-time watch, but there is not enough to make me want to see it on repeat viewings. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Reviewed by bkoganbing7 / 10
In the Wake of the Nautilus, the U.S.S. Seaview
I still remember seeing this film at movie theaters way back when I was a lad. Of course I didn't hear very much of it due to all the shrieks and squeals from the teenage girls in the audience over Frankie Avalon. That curiously enough didn't matter because Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a very visual film.
It might seem a little old hat today, but we've been through two more generations that have seen the United States Navy become an atomic fleet of submarines and surface carriers. It was only seven years earlier, in 1955 that the U.S.S. Nautilus was launched as our first atomic submarine. In homage to that wonderful visionary Jules Verne who foresaw atomic power one hundred years earlier the Navy named it after that famous undersea ship of Verne's great novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The nuclear submarine was a wondrous thing in 1961.
The idea of a nuclear power submarine was the brainchild of Admiral Hyman Rickover. Rickover was a tough minded s.o.b. who usually got whatever he wanted by any mean necessary including bullying. Hard to believe that the gentlemanly Walter Pigeon could play him, but he did and well as Admiral Harry Nelson, the ersatz Rickover.
What's happened here is that the Van Allen radiation belt that surrounds the Earth has caught fire and temperatures are climbing all over the world. The planet is doomed, but Walter Pigeon's got an idea to save it. Fire a missile and seed the belt with more radiation, kind of a nuclear backfire and the blaze will end.
A lot of people are telling him it won't work, but Pigeon brushes them all aside. The only two who have faith in him are his assistants played by Peter Lorre and Barbara Eden. But our intrepid admiral pushes through.
Of course the U.S.S. Seaview encounters all kinds of obstacles along the way, but that's the rest of the story.
The cast does very well for itself and young Frankie Avalon as a junior officer comes off rather nicely. Frankie sings over the title credits, but during the movie plays a trumpet. Avalon in fact was a trumpet virtuoso and a singing career was an afterthought. The fickle finger of fate.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea still a nice science fiction adventure even though it is dated.