The Neptune Factor Daniel Petrie

The Neptune Factor Daniel Petrie
It’s long been said that Canadians shouldn’t make imitation American movies because they’re doomed to fail at the task. The Neptune Factor, a thrill-free underwater adventure from 1973, validates that particular theory. The film gathers a few imported Americans (Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux) to save a bunch of Canuck actors trapped at the bottom of the ocean when their sea lab falls victim to an earthquake. Expatriate Canadian Walter Pidgeon wrings his hands while the fearless three descend the lengths of a deep crevasse to discover some amazing sea life — actually tropical pet fish shown in extreme close-up. It goes without saying that a home-grown attempt at competing with Hollywood can’t deliver the goods it’s trying to duplicate, victim as it is of budget and circumstances, but it’s also true that the rest of the effort is unbearably slack. Though they flaunt the high-tech equipment meant to suggest a nautical laboratory, they can’t come up with compelling characters or an interesting story. The film is a meandering mess, waiting half an hour to deliver the narrative crisis and squandering the rest of its run-time on meaningless jargon and boring escapades that inevitably go bust with the arrival of those unthreatening fish. And though all the actors are competent, none of them can triumph over a screenplay so bland it’s reminiscent of stereo instructions. The whole thing cries out for the MST3K treatment, which is the only way any entertainment could be salvaged from this. It features a fantastic transfer, though. Extras include isolated score tracks from both main composer Lalo Schifrin and supporting composer William McCauley, a contemporary television featurette that’s hilariously overblown, still galleries, trailers and TV spots. (Fox)