The reason for this becomes clear when one remembers just how definitive an adaptation of the story the 1954 Disney version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was. It is hard for any subsequent adaptation to stand up against the Disney version, whereas Mysterious Island lacks any defining classic version so far. The novel of Mysterious Island is a straightforward story of desert island survival with no science-fiction content (other than Nemos submarine). It is interesting to see what various film adaptations of Mysterious Island have managed to tack onto the Verne story, having thrown in everything from merpeople (the 1929 version), invading aliens from the planet Mercury (the 1951 version); time travel and mutant creatures the low-budget 2012 version; and giant animals here and in the 1981 and 2005 versions (which in Monster Island turn out to be monsters placed on the island by a bored boys father to teach him life lessons!!!). It should be noted that the most straightforward and faithful adaptations of the story the 1941 and 1972 versions also happen to be regarded as the dullest.
This version seems mounted very much in the shadow of and undeniably reliant upon the Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea the plush Victorian designs for the interior of the Nautilus have been taken almost direct from the Disney version. The film conducts a straight-forward adaptation of the basic plot of the book the Confederate prisoners escaping by balloon, the mysteriously beneficial Nemo although about halfway through the survival story no longer seems enough and the film sees fit to add monsters and somewhat improbably romantic interest by having two Englishwomen also washed up on the island.
Jules Vernes survivalist story also seems at odds with effects man Ray Harryhausen of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) fame who turns the exercise into a showcase for his stop-motion creations giant crabs, bees, octopi and a giant chicken (Harryhausen insists it was meant to be a prehistoric Phoracos, although scenes where it gets served up as a giant chicken roast dont exactly help). As always with Ray Harryhausens films, there seem problems in trying to root the creatures in the narrative. Certainly, Captain Nemos explanation about having created them in order to stop war is not at all convincing the idea that war is caused by hunger is absurd.
Nevertheless, the creature effects are fun, although the best special effects in the film oddly enough are not Ray Harryhausens but those during the balloon flight, which is a marvellously exciting sequence with the balloon being tossed about in the storm and the prisoners struggling through the surf as they are washed ashore on the balloons ring. The sequence is magnificently scored by Bernard Herrmann.
Ray Harryhausens other films are: the atomic dinosaur film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953); the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien invader film Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); the Arabian Nights adventure The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the H.G. Wells adaptation The First Men in the Moon (1964); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); the two Sinbad sequels The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977); and the Greek myth adventure Clash of the Titans (1981).
A couple of years later, director Cy Endfield would go onto his greatest success Zulu (1964). Endfields other films of genre note are Tarzans Savage Fury (1952) and the problem-ridden biopic De Sade (1969).
Film available online in several parts beginning here:-