A Tribute to Jules Verne
February 11, 2017
February 8th is the birthday of Jules Gabriel Verne (1828-1905), a French novelist best known for his adventure novels and his influence on the genres of Science Fiction and Steampunk. He has often been called the “Father of Science Fiction” and a “prophet” of scientific progress. He has had a huge impact on science and culture. He has been an inspiration to many, including myself. He remains one of my favorite authors and has written some of my favorite stories. He is responsible for my love of literature and writing. So to celebrate this influential author, I want to do something special to pay tribute to him. His works have been adapted into film many times, so I’m going to count down the top five films based off of Verne’s work that I would recommend.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
Thoughts: This movie is not just based on the works of Jules Verne. It is also based on the works of Johnathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island). The film offers some interesting ideas, some really good CGI, some decent action, and a likable cast. It’s not perfect, but it isn’t meant to be a masterpiece. The cast works really well off each other and I can tell that they had fun making this. It’s fun to watch and I recommend it for anyone looking for an action flick to watch with friends. I do miss Brendan Fraser and I do like the first movie in the “Journey” series better. Speaking of…
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Thoughts: One of my childhood favorites. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s still a fun action flick that I’ve always enjoyed watching. It’s not really an adaptation of Verne’s novel and is instead more of a sequel set in the present. The film is really creative and imaginative, giving us carnivorous plants, bio-luminescent birds, and prehistoric piranhas. Brendan Fraser is also really likable as the lead. He’s one of my favorite action movie stars and it really is a shame that he hasn’t really been in anything recently. I recommend this to anyone wanting to have a good time and wants to enjoy a good popcorn flick with some decent action.
Mysterious Island (1961)
Thoughts: The book didn’t have giant monsters in it, but screw that. Giant monsters make any story better. Especially when they are animated by legendary special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, one of my personal heroes. The monsters are cleverly inserted into the story and there are a number of excellent scenes crafted by the brilliant Harryhausen. The rest of the film is excellent as well. Despite the addition of giant monsters, it remains faithful to the book and delivers likable performances from a strong cast of good characters. It’s not just one of my favorite Verne movies. It’s also one of my favorite Harryhausen films. Easily recommended for fans of stop motion, Verne, Harryhausen, or classic adventure stories.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
Thoughts: It’s an old-fashioned adventure movie that is a lot of fun to watch. The cast is really good, especially Pat Boone as Alec McEwan, who gives a very likable performance. Though the film’s creatures are just lizards with fins glued onto their backs and made to look larger, it is actually executed very well. There is also a charming and believable romance between Alec McEwan and Jenny Lidenbrock, which adds to Alec’s likability. And there is surprisingly some really funny moments that made me laugh. I can easily recommend this old classic.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Thoughts: With good writing and a great cast, this movie remains to be one of Disney’s finest and most impressive live-action features. It still holds up really well and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in features. The book translates very well to the big screen and I might also add that the film’s effects are pretty good as well. It makes sense that the best Verne adaptation is based off Verne’s best work of fiction.
And there you have it. I recommend those five movies and Verne’s books to anybody interested in the author’s legacy. And with a few more “Journey” movies and another Disney take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in development, who knows what the future could hold…
Happy Birthday, Jules Verne. And thank you for everything you have given us.