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This was initially shown on TV expanded and in three parts, as if the beginning of a TV series. The more compact movie version was shown theatrically overseas. It harkens back to the sci-fi serials of the forties and fifties, due to the sometimes over-the-top dialog (about ruling the world), as well as being a typical cheesy offering of seventies TV sci-fi. But, since it's from Irwin Allen, it's also yet another dipping into the well of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with Allen, like his earlier TV movie, City Beneath the Sea (1970).
Nemo, this time played by the elderly yet still energetic Jose Ferrer, is awoken from a cryogenic sleep by a couple of Navy heroes (Tom Hallick and Burr DeBenning) in his still-working fabled sub the Nautillus, just in time to challenge the nefarious plans of a mad genius played by Burgess Meredith, who threatens the USA from his own advanced submarine. You can tell that the film is actually made up of three seperate episodes because the story diverges every half-hour or so. The 2nd story involves Mel Ferrer and Lynda Day George coming on board Nemo's sub and then they all find what's left of Atlantis, meeting its king (Horst Buchholz). Meredith's villain does remain as the primary threat throughout, however.
This is one of those goofy yet entertaining attempts at sci-fi: there are futuristic sets, ray guns and mechanical men, all to the tune of a low TV budget. Atlantis is given short shrift - the main set is this empty-looking audience hall. Meredith's right-hand 'man', a hulking masked henchman, also comes across like a robot, uttering short statements like "Aliens must die," but we're never sure if he's a human, an alien or mechanical. Maybe we would learn a few things if this did continue as a series. Since this was intended as a series, there is a coherence to the storyline that makes it watchable. Nemo is presented as a genius who swiftly becomes indispensable to the USA and the set-up suggested that he would continue going on dangerous, exotic missions for the nation due to his resources, if things had continued. Ferrer brings his usual authority to the role and the intent was for him and Meredith to square off as the two resident top geniuses. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Star Trek TOS Actor Alert: Warren Stevens plays the head of Navy intelligence and the one who requests Nemo to work for him against megalomaniac Meredith; he was in the episode By Any Other Name, playing an alien.
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