|Following the destruction of much of coastal Turkey by a massive tsunami, American scientists Dr. Doug Standish (a mugging Lloyd Bridges) and Dr. Craig Mosby (Brian Kelly playing kind of a sexist jerk) lead the crew of the submarine Hydronaut in a race to plant seismic sensors along fault lines on the ocean floor to create an experimental earthquake detection system in order to prevent other coastal countries from suffering the same fate. The crew consists of geologist Orin Hillyard (Marshall Thompson), electronics expert Dr. Philip Volker (David McCallum doing a hokey German accent) and marine biologist Margaret Hanford (the fetching Shirley Eaton as what basically amounts to eye candy). Also along for the ride is reclusive survival expert Hank Stahl (a delightfully curmudgeonly Keenan Wynn).
While at times enjoyable, Around the World Under the Sea is, alas, a bit on the boring side. It isn't that badly written, not for a movie of its type, anyway, but in its apparent drive to depict the science fiction elements as realistically as possible (in a "this is totally plausible" sort of way), it tends to bog down. We spend far too much time focusing on the Hydronaut crew planting the various sensors that midway through the film a montage of them doing it gets the bulk of that out of the way to make way for... well, not undersea adventure, that's for sure.
There is some of that, but it's few and far between and mostly, when the movie isn't methodically showing us in detail how they do various scientific tasks, it basically plays out like a soap opera set on a submarine: Volker wants to do a salvage dive for some valuable crystals but is opposed (for some reason the movie never bothers explaining) by Stahl, and the two have an epic chess game to decide whether they'll do it (Volker cheats!); Hanford is ostensibly Hillyard's girlfriend at the start, but starts falling for Mosby despite him being kind of a sexist pig, and on top of this she's Volker's ex and there is unresolved tension between them. The movie seems to think that this is all more interesting than giant eels and erupting undersea volcanoes. It would be wrong.
One thing of note is the sexism against Dr. Hanford that Craig Mosby has, and, to some extent, so does the movie. With comments like "she's as good with a skillet as she is with a scalpel," it at times feels like a movie from a much earlier film, far less tolerant of women in the workplace. When Hanford is late for the Hydronaut's takeoff, the chief concern regarding her is that they can't set sail without a cook (!). If nothing else, at least the poor woman gets support from Standish if no one else, who points out "She's a scientist and so are we" and doesn't find the idea of female astronauts at all unusual, and hires her on the spot even once he learns the mysterious and overqualified "M.E. Hanford" is a woman, whilst it is Mosby who objects to having a woman aboard the sub. Still, most of it just seems like lip service, as, despite Standish's insistence in her abilities, all supposed marine biologist Hanford ever really does is "woman" stuff like serving coffee while Stahl (who isn't even a scientist) does most of the specimen collecting and lab work.
This nonsense aside, it has its moments. There's a close call where Hillyard is burned by an undersea vent and has to be rescued by Volker, as well as a giant moray eel which attacks the sub, and a fairly satisfying climax involving a giant underwater volcano and a rock slide which buries the sub, trapping our heroes and forcing them to use their quick wits to escape. Recommended for viewers with lots and lots of patience. For a far better and more enjoyable undersea adventure flick, see either 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.|