The Neptune Factor – An Undersea Odyssey
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Film: C
these days, someone is going to have to do a book of all the films and TV shows
that imitated Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A
Space Odyssey (1968) because there are far more than you would think,
especially when the rest of Hollywood was trying to catch up. One of the most obvious and least successful
is the still-interesting Daniel Petrie exercise The Neptune Factor – An Undersea Odyssey (1973) which wants to
mirror the Kubrick classic underwater and be an H.G. Wells/Jules Verne
adventure with cutting edge underwater footage.
despite a solid cast that includes Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, Ben Gazzara
and Walter Pidgeon, Jack DeWitt’s screenplay never adds up and the exciting
underwater footage is more like a science show or travelogue than a film about
something. Even by then, the James Bond
films (Thunderball and You Only Live Twice in particular)
proved you could combine beauty and excitement, but the tale of Ocean Lab II
and their new pressure-resistant submersible that will take man to new depths
of the ocean bottom met by earthquakes and giant sea creatures is far from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
this is more of an artsy action film than anything science fiction and what is
cutting edge here has been used more effectively in later films (the 1981 James
Bond film For Your Eyes Only) and
outdone by more ambitious films underwater (James Cameron’s The Abyss, though the Cold War subplot
was cut before final theatrical release) and the possibilities of an underwater
adventure (including consideration of Abyss-inspired Deep Star Six and Leviathan,
which all owed more to Ridley Scott’s Alien
to begin with) has yet to be really captured.
No wonder the BBC mini-series science mini-series Planet Earth is such a big hit.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was developed in DeLuxe color which is
not always consistent here and was shot by Director of Photography Harry Makin,
all of which looks soft often on this disc.
However, the underwater footage can impress and that is the one thing
the film has going for it to this day.
We could not confirm this as of this posting, but the film may have been
blown-up to 70mm, allowing for the possibility of 6-track magnetic stereo
sound, but that is not the soundtrack here.
Instead, we get Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Mono, with the Stereo a bit
better. Originally, the music score
recorded was composed by William McCauley, but Fox was unsure of what is not a
bad score and hired the great Lalo Schifrin to rescore the film for its final
scores are here in isolated music tracks to compare and soundtrack fans will
love that. You also get three stills
galleries, a featurette made for TV, original teaser trailer, two TV spots and
final trailer. Borgnine and Mimieux
would reunite in another genre film that eventually became more of a cult
classic and had some of the trappings of this film: Disney’s The Black Hole. No matter its shortcomings, The Neptune Factor is worth seeing once
just for the photography and what they tried to do.
- Nicholas Sheffo