Friday, January 16, 2009

THE NEPTUNE FACTOR (1973)

SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: The briny deep looks a lot like my Grandma’s 70s aquarium.

THE CARD:

The Abysmal, Voyage to the Bottom of Boredom, 20,000 Yawns Under the Sea, Das Snooze, The Hunt for Red Ambien, Dozing Nemo, Sleep Star Six, and Crimson Snore.

More details here.

THE ANGLE:

Up in the North Atlantic, the OceanLab underwater complex conducts science experiments that will one day enable Man to develop the ocean floor, build cities, and open the first deep sea Starbucks. Aboard the research ship Triton, OceanLab’s lifeline to the dry world, Dr. Andrews (Walter Pigeon) and his assistant Leah (Yvette Mimieux) communicate with OceanLab staff, analyze data, and manage a team of crack divers. Head diver MacKay (Ernest Borgnine) and Cousins (Donnelly Rhodes) return to the Triton after a tough day of holding their breath, flapping their legs and looking at fish (not sure what else divers do, sorry). Just then, the ship loses contact with OceanLab after an earthquake. Leah panics because her boyfriend is on board OceanLab along with two other divers. They contact the Navy which dispatches the experimental mini-submarine The Neptune to the site.

The Neptune and its factor appear to be the answer to their problem, except for the fact that the sub is piloted by total jerk Commander Blake (Ben Gazzara). Blake and the Triton divers butt heads, especially when it looks like saving OceanLab is a lost cause. But Leah, being the inept woman, presses a few buttons and they lose contact with the surface and descend rapidly into a mysterious abyss. There, they see really big fish. You know, like those bizarre depressed fish swimming in moldy tanks you see in deteriorated Chinese buffet restaurants to give the joint “atmosphere”. You know, like this:

So the mutated fish start attacking the ship. At one point MacKay exits the Neptune to explore the ocean floor for traces of the missing divers and almost gets munched by Nemo’s Dad. But luckily the Neptune is stocked with plenty of harpoons and fishy flakes and they prepare for an action-packed conclusion unparalleled since my afternoon nap.

THE FINISHER:

OK, so this is probably going to be the shortest Planet Tremendo review this month. Why? Because I fell asleep half-way during today's movie. I personally blame Ben Gazarra.

The Neptune Factor, a 70s underwater adventure which attempts to recall The Poseidon Adventure, isn't exactly a sci-fi film, or entirely a disaster movie, or in any way an action flick. But it can probably be described best as a disastrous inaction movie with aspirations of sci-fi, only if by sci-fi you mean “boring as fuck”. But it does have nice underwater photography of weird underwater things.

Cheeto?
And toy subs.
And Ernest Borgnine in way-too tight scuba wear. Not pictured for the easily squeamish.

Neptune Factor wants to look like a big budget movie, but it’s got the amateurish feel of an Ed Wood movie despite a relatively stellar cast. Plus, the third act is restricted to the claustrophobic confines of the Neptune where the principals bicker back and forth and talk about action, but never really partake in anything resembling action. The Neptune Factor is largely a waste of time, unexciting and unoriginal, and dull as a bag of goldfish.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw that movie when it was first released back in the 70s. it was the drive-in and everybody left in the middle. we stayed because my Dad wanted his money's worth. He fell asleep and Mom drove home. I watched two teenagers make out in the car next to us. The guy had a huge mustache. Just thought you'd like to know.

FER said...

I enjoyed your review, especially the alternate titles at the top. "Dozing Nemo"... that's about right.

This movie was so astoundingly bad it's hard to believe it had such a huge budget. Obviously the cash ran out before they got to the fishtank at the bottom of the sea. In fact, I suspect the cash ran out before they wrote a script, too.