The Neptune Factor (1973)

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The Neptune Factor (1973)

Post  BoG on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:47 pm

John Muir wrote:Story:
A laboratory on the sea floor is unexpectedly lost at Muir Seamount Rise during an earthquake, and three aquanauts go missing. Aboard the exploratory vessel Triton above, associates of the lost men attempt a dangerous rescue mission. Stern Commander Adrian Blake (Gazzara ) travels to the site with his new mini-sub, Neptune, but is reluctant to commit the submersible to a rescue attempt he feels is doomed to failure. But the bride-to-be of one of the aquanauts, Dr. Leah Jansen (Yvette Mimieux) is determined to save her betrothed, and convinces Blake to try. Leah joins Blake aboard the Neptune, and they travel down to a deep sea trench where the sea life has grown to colossal -- and dangerous -- size.

The ocean-based fantasy or science fiction movie, like Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1969), The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and even The Spy Who Loved Me (1976), were a staple of the disco decade. On TV, producer Irwin Allen followed up his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964 – 1968) success with TV movies such as City Beneath the Sea (1971). Similarly, audiences at home in the Nixon and Ford years thrilled to the real -life adventures of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau (1910 – 1997) and his ship, the Calypso, on The Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau (1968 – 1976). Another wet pop culture phenomenon of the era was The Man from Atlantis (1976 – 1978). To paraphrase the opening of the 1990s underwater series SeaQuest DSV (1993 – 1996), many believed in the 1970s that the future rested not only with the exploration of outer space, but of the Earth’s oceans too.

This bit of history helps to explain a sci-fi movie like The Neptune Factor: An Undersea Odyssey (1973), which involves a rescue operation on the ocean floor and the nifty submersible that manages it. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t prove a very good inducement for continued exploration of the seven seas as it features one of the dullest, most uneventful first acts in motion picture history. The Neptune Factor is also heavy on long, lingering shots of the sea and sea- tech. What the movie needs to thrive as an authentic “undersea odyssey” is some sense of danger and personal involvement, and the film doesn’t manage either very successfully.

Meanwhile, The Neptune Factor’s last act involves stars Mimieux, Gazzara, Borgnine and Rhodes staring endlessly out of the Neptune’s cramped control room window at large fish specimens, which are depicted with slow-motion photography to make them seem more impressive. Movie critics of the time (in periodicals such as The New York Times) noted accurately that these real-life aquatic animals -- magnified so as to appear huge -- seemed to have been filmed in a home aquarium or sea tank. The choice of animals is baffling too. Lion-fish doubling as a giant underwater menace?!

Muir, John Kenneth (2013-10-25). Science Fiction and Fantasy Films of the 1970s (p. 152). The Lulu Show LLC. Kindle Edition.
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