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Blu-ray Review Mysterious Island Blu-ray Review (Encore Edition) (1 Viewer)

Richard Gallagher

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Mysterious Island Blu-ray Review (Encore Edition)

When Mysterious Island was released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time four years ago, it sold out quickly. Twilight Time has now released an encore edition which features the same outstanding transfer but which adds an optional 2.0 DTS HD-MA soundtrack and several excellent extras which were not available on the prior release.



Studio: Sony

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono), English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 41 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, Other

Standard Clear Blu-ray Case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 12/08/2015

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

During the decade of the 1950s three blockbuster movies - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Journey to the Center of the Earth - were adapted from novels written by Jules Verne. Supposedly producer Charles Schneer was attracted to Verne's "Mysterious Island" after hearing that a survey of public libraries revealed that it was at that time the "most looked-at" book. It was an attractive project for Schneer. For one thing, the book is a sequel to the highly successful 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For another, it gave Schneer the opportunity to utilize the talents of his longtime collaborator, special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. The result is a highly entertaining fantasy-adventure which also features a superb score by composer Bernard Hermann.

 

The action opens at a Confederate prison during the siege of Richmond, Virginia in 1865. Three Union POWs - Captain Cyrus Harding (Michael Craig) and two enlisted men, Corporal Neb Nugent (Dan Jackson) and Private Herbert Brown (Michael Callan) have hatched an escape plan. The Confederates have an observation balloon at the prison, and the POWs decide to try to hijack it if they can escape from their cell. An opportunity presents itself when the rebels take a war correspondent, Gideon Spilitt (Gary Merrill), into custody. The guards are overpowered and the prisoners make their way to the balloon in the midst of a fearsome thunderstorm. During the course of their escape they capture a Confederate soldier, Sergeant Pencroft (Percy Herbert). The escapees hang on for dear life as "the greatest storm in American history" forces the balloon to the west, and they eventually drift out over the Pacific Ocean.

 

When the ballooning neophytes finally spot a mass of land, they lower their airship to get a better look. However, the balloon's valve gets stuck and breaks, and a crash landing ensues. They all survive the crash, but they find themselves on what appears to be an uninhabited island - uninhabited by humans, that is. Before long they begin to have encounters with enormous crustaceans, birds and insects. In the course of exploring the island they discover that it once was occupied by pirates. More ominously, the smoking mountain in the center of the island is an active volcano. A shipwreck fortuitously delivers two females to the island, Lady Mary Fairchild (Joan Greenwood) and her niece, Elena (Beth Rogan). When a chest of valuable items from the submarine Nautilus washes up on the beach, we know that Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom) cannot be far behind (in fact, we know all along that Nemo will be showing up, because his name appears in the opening credits). Nemo's unusual entrance is one of the film's more memorable moments.

 

The cast of Mysterious Island is not exactly A-list, but the actors turn in engaging performances. Herbert Lom is particularly striking as Captain Nemo, and Beth Rogan's Elena fashions what may be the only goatskin mini-skirt in the history of film. Michael Craig is appropriately sturdy as Captain Harding, and Gary Merrill is very entertaining as the wry war correspondent. Only Michael Callan seems to be out of place, as he sports a pompadour which appears to have been transported directly from the 1960s to the 1860s. Ray Harryhausen's special effects remain impressive even after the passage of fifty years. Director Cy Endfield (Zulu) keeps the action moving along at a brisk pace, and he is aided immeasurably by Bernard Hermann's impressive score (which is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra).

 

Fans of Jules Verne will surely enjoy this adaptation, even though the giant creatures created by Ray Harryhausen are nowhere to be found in the book.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

This is an excellent Blu-ray transfer which looks as good as anything which Sony has produced from the same era. The 1.66:1 image is properly framed, leaving slight black bars on both sides of the picture. Colors are solid and accurate, contrast is strong and black levels are fine. The one drawback to the highly detailed picture is that Harryhausen's matte paintings look more like paintings than the real thing. One of the early scenes on the island includes a flock of birds, and it is immediately apparent that the birds are animated figures. However, this is a minor quibble. An appropriate level of film grain has been retained to provide a highly satisfying, film-like appearance. Mysterious Island was the first Sony product to be released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time.

 

Robert A. Harris, our resident expert, has chimed in on the virtues of this release:

 

A few words about...™ Mysterious Island -- in Blu-ray



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

In my 2011 review I wrote, "As noted above, the film's audio can be heard either in lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA or the original English mono. The 5.1 soundtrack provides more punch and really brings Bernard Hermann's score to life. Dialogue is confined to the center channel and is crisp, clear and entirely understandable."

 

The addition of the 2.0 DTS HD-MA soundtrack is a nice touch which will please some viewers. I still prefer the 5.1 soundtrack, which does a nice job of providing directionality to the sound effects, but try them all and choose the one which you prefer.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

As noted, the extras on the original Twilight Time Blu-ray were limited, but several additional excellent supplements have been included in this encore edition.

 

Bernard Hermann fans will enjoy listening to the isolated score track. As was the case with the original Twilight Time Blu-ray, the isolated score track sometimes includes sound effects. Nick Redman explained that 30% of the original score track no longer exists, so they had to use an effects/score track for those portions.

 

The original theatrical trailer and a re-release trailer are presented in high definition and are framed at 1.66:1. Both are in pristine condition.

 

Two television trailers for the film are in black & white (color televisions having been rare in 1961) and are framed at 4:3. They make a point of emphasizing that the film is in color. Both are in excellent shape.

 

There also are three black & white television spots, ranging in length from 20 seconds to one minute.

 

"Islands of Mystery" is a vintage 5 1/2 minute promotional film which intersperses information about the film Mysterious Island with facts about other interesting islands such as Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands.

 

"Ray Harryhausen on Mysterious Island" is a ten-minute color featurette in which the special effects genius discusses how he spiced up the original Jules Verne novel by including prehistoric creatures in the story. It is framed at 4:3 and appears as if it was produced as an introduction and postscript to a television airing of the film.

 

The original Twilight Time Blu-ray of Mysterious Island did not include chapter stops, but this release is divided into 24 chapters.

 

A worthwhile commentary track by film historians Randall William Cook, C. Courtney Joiner, and Steven C. Smith provides many insights into the production of the film.

 

The enclosed booklet with Julie Kirgo's excellent essay is identical to the one which came with the original Twilight Time release.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Mysterious Island is a very entertaining fantasy-adventure film which is once again available in an excellent limited edition Blu-ray. Whether owners of the original Twilight Time release will want to double-dip depends upon your interest in the additional extras and the inclusion of the 2.0 DTS HD-MA soundtrack.

 

This release of Mysterious Island is limited to 3,000 copies, so readers interested in purchasing it should go to the Twilight Time website and confirm that copies are still available. Twilight Time is promising faster shipping and for each month in 2016 will randomly select one lucky purchaser who will receive all new Twilight Time releases for the following month at no charge.


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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Angelo Colombus

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Purchased the first release so now i will have to think about double dipping just for the extras...wish the new extras were added the first time around.
 

Race Bannon

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atcolomb said:
Purchased the first release so now i will have to think about double dipping just for the extras...wish the new extras were added the first time around.
It's good that they do something to differentiate the release and perhaps encourage more sales. But to be fair they should punish us first time buyers by leaving one key extra out of the second one.[emoji3]
 

Cineman

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Race Bannon said:
It's good that they do something to differentiate the release and perhaps encourage more sales. But to be fair they should punish us first time buyers by leaving one key extra out of the second one.[emoji3]

I assume you meant to write something like "reward" rather than "punish", Race Bannon...? If so, I totally agree with you. The first time buyers ought to be rewarded for jumping in to buy and thereby making it enough of a success to issue an Encore version. Otherwise, they've just demolished the whole Urgency To Buy element that is basic to sales and marketing, especially within a "Limited to 3,000 copies!" sales pitch.


I am now quite a bit less likely to jump into the next one of their "Limited to 3,000 copies!" titles since it is reasonable to assume I will be rewarded for waiting for an Encore version, won't miss anything and will instead get more. Which will slow sales of the next "Limited to 3,000 copies!" title, the next one, the next one and around and around we go.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Cineman said:
I am now quite a bit less likely to jump into the next one of their "Limited to 3,000 copies!" titles since it is reasonable to assume I will be rewarded for waiting for an Encore version, won't miss anything and will instead get more. Which will slow sales of the next "Limited to 3,000 copies!" title, the next one, the next one and around and around we go.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. To date only 20% of TT's sold out titles have had encore editions released or announced.
 

Race Bannon

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Cineman said:
I assume you meant to write something like "reward" rather than "punish", Race Bannon...? If so, I totally agree with you. The first time buyers ought to be rewarded for jumping in to buy and thereby making it enough of a success to issue an Encore version. Otherwise, they've just demolished the whole Urgency To Buy element that is basic to sales and marketing, especially within a "Limited to 3,000 copies!" sales pitch.

I am now quite a bit less likely to jump into the next one of their "Limited to 3,000 copies!" titles since it is reasonable to assume I will be rewarded for waiting for an Encore version, won't miss anything and will instead get more. Which will slow sales of the next "Limited to 3,000 copies!" title, the next one, the next one and around and around we go.
You got my meaning right. Punish us fence sitters.

But seriously, as pointed you can't wait if you want it because most sellouts don't get an encore.
 

ROclockCK

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Mysterious Island was only TT's 2nd Blu-ray release way back in October 2011, and it sold out about 6 months later around the time their first Journey Blu-ray went bye-bye too. Fortunately, both titles received encore editions...but when...like 4 to 5 years later!?!


Favourite movies aren't a 'wait and pray' pursuit for me. Nothing could keep me away from either of these classics the 1st time around...or 2nd...or h3ll, even a 3rd if there could possibly be something left to improve or add. At least this label doesn't merely re-stamp and re-package*...TT's re-releases (the few that they've redone) actually mean something to fans and collectors in terms of enhanced content.


* I'm looking at you WB.
 

Cineman

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Race Bannon said:
You got my meaning right. Punish us fence sitters.

But seriously, as pointed you can't wait if you want it because most sellouts don't get an encore.

Still, the way this was done clearly punished early purchasers and rewarded fence sitters. Can't see how that is a winning recipe for moving product faster rather than slower, which inevitably skews the assessment of interest level in these titles in the first place. Your idea of dropping at least some worthwhile bonus from the original release would be enough of a signal to the early purchasers that they hadn't been bamboozled by that "Limited to 3,000 copies!" BS into pulling the trigger too soon and therefore shouldn't sit on the fence the next time. But to only add more value to later editions, editions that we were essentially told would never happen, is a slap in the face to the early purchasers.
 

aPhil

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I totally disagree with anyone that thinks purchasers of the 2011 Limited Editon of "Mysterious Island" were "punished" with fewer extras. Such bull.


I did not know about Twilight Time nor the high quality of their releases upon the original release of their Blu-ray. Having missed that purchase, I'm the one who felt not punished, but penalized by having to wait 4 years before this film again became available.


Yes, I love good "Extras" on Blu-ray releases, but it was the movie with the upgrade in image quality that I truly desired.


Frankly, the old reviews from 2011 (and on until now) did not give me any idea about how great an upgrade this film receives from the old standard def DVD to High Definition Blu-ray.


So, should they really have omitted any new Extras with this new release? Really? I don't agree at all, and I would still be happy if I had purchased the original release in 2011.
 

JoHud

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aPhil said:
I totally disagree with anyone that thinks purchasers of the 2011 Limited Editon of "Mysterious Island" were "punished" with fewer extras. Such bull.

Truth. I bought the original release and at a higher price point to boot ($35 plus shipping) and I'm still satisfied with it. It's not like the early released sucked or anything. This new one just comes with a few more bells and whistles. Plus I got the limited edition SAE


Maybe someone could make a case for Journey to the Center of the Earth the DVD to blu-ray re-releases and particularly Violent Saturday given that I've personally spent over $50 dollars on that one movie, the first not even being an anamorphic transfer. But Twilight Time was upfront about what they were selling and I knew what I was buying and bit with both eyes open. Sure, had I known it was going to be rereleased in a complete HD remaster I would have held out, but there was no way of knowing that would happen or even if Twilight Time would have survived that long as a distributor.


I think the only ones that were "punished" on this were the Ebay resalers hoping to sell their copies for well over $100.
 

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aPhil said:
Frankly, the old reviews from 2011 (and on until now) did not give me any idea about how great an upgrade this film receives from the old standard def DVD to High Definition Blu-ray.xc

Twilight Time's first year or so in the Blu-ray market was a period of near-incessant bashing over price. features, and limited runs, rarely giving fair hearing to the quality of the product itself...i.e. how well the movie was presented.


And not just among reviewers. The boards - I mean those other boards - were an even sadder reflection of what Grover Crisp and his Sony Asset Preservation team accomplished with this title back in '11. Heck, even when the encore edition was announced, many of those same 'too-smart-for-the-room' posters were asking if it would receive a 4k re-scan and re-master, when, of course - "hello" - it already had. But alas, few paid attention to the raves of the early adopters; we were largely dismissed as label fanboys and/or shills. So by the time word got around among those who knew the history of this Harryhausen title well, cared about it deeply, and trusted their own senses, the thing was sold out and fetching $100+ in the aftermarket.


Could happen again, although in 2016, much of the toxic, dismissive tone toward this label seems to have evaporated. Fewer will miss out this time because more will know it's out there.
 

Mark-W

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Count me among those just happy to have the RH films being released on Blu-ray because of TT. I am double dipping on this one precisely because I generally love commentary tracks by sci-fi/fantasy nerds who know what they're talking about.


Now if TT could only get their hands on The Valley of the Gwangi (or at least WB should release it through their archive label.)
 

ROclockCK

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Mark Walker said:
Count me among those just happy to have the RH films being released on Blu-ray because of TT. I am double dipping on this one precisely because I generally love commentary tracks by sci-fi/fantasy nerds who know what they're talking about.


Now if TT could only get their hands on The Valley of the Gwangi (or at least WB should release it through their archive label.)

For me, the savviest inclusion in this commentary is Steven C. Smith, whose history with all things Bernard Herrmann never fails to fascinate. His book, A Heart at Fire's Center is a must for any Herrmann aficionado, and stands as the definitive study of this composer's work.
 

Cineman

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aPhil said:
I totally disagree with anyone that thinks purchasers of the 2011 Limited Editon of "Mysterious Island" were "punished" with fewer extras. Such bull.


I did not know about Twilight Time nor the high quality of their releases upon the original release of their Blu-ray. Having missed that purchase, I'm the one who felt not punished, but penalized by having to wait 4 years before this film again became available.


Yes, I love good "Extras" on Blu-ray releases, but it was the movie with the upgrade in image quality that I truly desired.


Frankly, the old reviews from 2011 (and on until now) did not give me any idea about how great an upgrade this film receives from the old standard def DVD to High Definition Blu-ray.


So, should they really have omitted any new Extras with this new release? Really? I don't agree at all, and I would still be happy if I had purchased the original release in 2011.

Hey, no problem. Let's PM our addresses, you can mail me your Encore blu-ray edition, I'll mail you my original Limited blu-ray edition, even exchange, then you will get what you missed out on and hated to wait 4 years to get, you will "still be happy", and I will enjoy everything you will have plus the extra bonuses I didn't get. I'll even pay your shipping charges. Deal?

;)
 

Race Bannon

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aPhil said:
I totally disagree with anyone that thinks purchasers of the 2011 Limited Editon of "Mysterious Island" were "punished" with fewer extras. Such bull.


I did not know about Twilight Time nor the high quality of their releases upon the original release of their Blu-ray. Having missed that purchase, I'm the one who felt not punished, but penalized by having to wait 4 years before this film again became available.


Yes, I love good "Extras" on Blu-ray releases, but it was the movie with the upgrade in image quality that I truly desired.


Frankly, the old reviews from 2011 (and on until now) did not give me any idea about how great an upgrade this film receives from the old standard def DVD to High Definition Blu-ray.


So, should they really have omitted any new Extras with this new release? Really? I don't agree at all, and I would still be happy if I had purchased the original release in 2011.

It's a little more light-hearted than you took it. No, they shouldn't have omitted, and no, it's not actual "punishment" for anyone.


Just musing about ways to make each edition that comes out special, while at the same time ribbing over the fact that there's no way to make everyone happy if they are at all different.
 

Richard Gallagher

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It's also worth noting that Mysterious Island was one of TT's first Blu-ray releases, and the company has been responsive to comments by customers. For example, there were complaints that the original release didn't have chapters, and now we have chapters.


None of us are privy to the contracts which TT has with the various studios they do business with, so we don't know when and if the company has the right to issue encore editions. Right now I'm aware of two upcoming encore editions, The Big Heat and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
 

Reggie W

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I certainly don't think there is any punishment involved in a great company like Twilight Time bringing wonderful films to blu-ray. I think it is all reward for any of us hoping to see much loved titles making the transition to high quality blu-rays.


I missed out on the first release of this film and it was the only film I managed to miss that I really wanted so this version is on the way to me and I can only thank and praise Twilight for the work they are doing.
 

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