Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Neptune Factor (1972)

The ’70s generated plenty of “bad” movies that are fun to watch, and on first blush one might expect The Neptune Factor to fall into that category. A thriller about the crusade to rescue a group of people from an underwater research station surrounded by giant sea creatures, the picture should offer a kitschy sci-fi spin on The Poseidon Adventure. Not so. Instead of campy melodrama in the Irwin Allen mode, this interminable flick features bored actors reciting pointless dialogue on cheap sets, plus ridiculous “special effects” shots of real fish swimming around poorly photographed miniature models of submersibles. Were it not for the presence of recognizable actors, this would seem like an inept student film that somehow found its way into the mainstream marketplace. The plot, which makes the picture sound much more exciting than it actually is, involves an undersea lab getting dislodged from its normal position by an undersea earthquake. A high-tech submarine is dispatched to rescue (or recover) the scientists in the lab, resulting in a handful of close encounters with “giant” sea creatures living in the ocean’s lower depths. Painfully boring on its way to becoming absolutely forgettable, The Neptune Factor stars a quartet of actors not generally known for safeguarding their cinematic legacies: Ernest Borgnine, Ben Gazzara, Yvette Mimieux, and Walter Pidgeon. Suffice it to say that none surmounts the worthless material, although Borgnine tries to keep things watchable with his usual indiscriminate intensity. The other performers merely sleepwalk through the stupidity, although it’s amusing to watch Gazarra strut around with his signature smugness—what, exactly, is there to be smug about when you’re sharing the screen with the residents of a household aquarium?

The Neptune Factor: SQUARE

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