movie review: ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’

This post is a late entry in The Code Classics Blogathon hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

20,000 Leagues Concept Art Featuring Will Smith Revealed | CBR

I thought I’d do a list review of the stuff I did and didn’t like about this movie, since I’m not currently feeling at my sharpest to write a long, detailed review. 😛 Also, the last time I watched this film, I slept through some of it (not a good sign, eh?) so I’d probably miss stuff. I will say, before I get into the list, that they don’t make kids’ movies like this anymore (for better or for worse). Can you imagine a kids’ movie these days with zero children in the cast and with a script that tackles ethical, moral, and psychological complexities? I’m not say 20,000 Leagues did a fantastic job with all that, but at least it introduced some talking points (and made Nemo the most interesting and, arguably, relatable character in the film).

Anyway, here are my lists.


  • Nemo. Yep, James Mason was excellent as the mad captain who sometimes seems like the sanest person on board. Like I said above, he’s the most interesting character–and the most developed one as well. Gotta be honest with you, I just watch this movie for James Mason.
  • The visuals. The Nautilus is legitimately terrifying before the characters actually become familiar with it. (Yes, even if you’ve seen the film before and know it’s not really a sea monster–at least not in the traditional sense.) Anything underwater is automatically cool, imo, so that’s another point in the film’s favor. And though this isn’t aesthetic visuals, I still vividly remember the cannibals getting electrocuted from when I watched 20,000 Leagues as a kid. o.O
  • This song. It doesn’t have the greatest lyrics, but it’s so catchy. You’ll probably never forget it once you hear it.


Kirk Douglas, Star of Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ...

Basically can be summed up with Every Character Besides Nemo. The professor is dull and annoying, Kirk Douglas is one of my least favorite actors, and Peter Lorre tends to grate on me. If you cut out Ned Land, I’d like the movie a lot better (and it’d be shorter too). (Of course, then I’d miss that song…but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.) And speaking of the length of the film, that isn’t exactly fun either (mainly because the film bores me in places and, again, the unlikable characters). The original book is pretty thick though, so I get why they made it so long.

Overall, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea isn’t a favorite movie…but it’s still worth watching if you enjoy book-to-film adaptions (though I can’t speak for its accuracy to the book), 1950’s live-action Disney movies, or James Mason.

Have you seen this film? Thoughts?

Until next time!


10 thoughts on “movie review: ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’

  1. Lol! My brother and I loved this movie when we were kids. I also have very vague memories of riding on the 20,000LUTS ride in Disney Land when I was 7 — it was wonderful, and I remember imagining new parts for it over and over for months afterward.

    There’s a made-for-TV version with Richard Crenna as the Professor and Paul Gross as Ned Land that’s really good — you might like that better? It does introduce a romance into it, but if you haven’t read the book, you won’t care that that’s added, hee. (And, having read the book… I’m not going to tell you to run out and find a copy…)


  2. I watched this the other day on DIsney+ out of nostalgia and… first, I remembered how enthralled I was with it as a child, secondly I remembered that was mostly for Neo, the coolest character ever, and thirdly… I realized when I kept checking my watch that the same kind of fascination doesn’t exist for it as an adult that it did when I was little, just because it’s so DANG LONG. That or my attention span has grown shorter, which is also possible…


  3. Hey great review!! This is my favorite movie of all time, but I totally get your critique. Also, it’s a LOT different from the book, including Ned Land’s goofiness, which is 100% Disney. 😆


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