Saturday, August 19, 2017

Movie Review: Willy Fog In 20000 Leagues Under the Sea

Willy Fog In 20000 Leagues Under the Sea a.k.a  The Adventures of Willy Fog: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea a.k.a Willy Fog Matka kapteeni Nemon kanssa
BRB Internacional S.A., Televisión Española (TVE), Spain, Taiwan, 1993/1995.
Loosely based on characters created by Jules Verne.

"Around the World with Willy Fog" or "La vuelta al mundo de Willy Fog" was popular cartoon in Finland in the 1980s, "the Lion version" of Jules Verne's classic novel "Around the World in 80 Days." A sequel series "Willy Fog 2" was also made based on "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Some episodes were cut into TV-movies. In the series most of the heroes were felines (except Tico who is hamster) whereas the antagonists were mostly canines. Interestingly, BRB produced also another classic series "Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds" where the heroes were dogs. Both "Willy Fog" and "Muskehounds" had theme songs that everyone who has seen the series remembers.

1871, London. Sea monster is attacking ships and US government asks gentleman adventurer Willy Fog to join the hunt. Of course Willy agrees and his wife Princess Romy and their loyal servants Passepartout and Tico pack their suitcases and get on board Abraham Lincoln. Harpooner Ned Land and Professor Aronnax are there too to offer help. And so the ship sees a sea beast roaming the ocean. The beast is made of metal so Ned's harpoons have no effect. The heroes are swept overboard and captured to Captain Nemo's submarine Nautilus.
Willy Fog
Passepartout and Tico
The crew is hostile and they don't even respect tea-time. Those barbarians. Being early pioneer of Bartitsu-style, Willy teaches some habits to the crew when they treat Romy disrespectfully. However some crew members are nice and the boat has a talented cook who makes even seaweed tasty. The Captain is a mysterious organ-playing figure.
Willy and Romy overboard
Prof. Aronnax and Ned Land join the adventure
The Cook
Paranoid Captain Nemo is sinking all ships that get on his way. Ned doesn't allow that and together the heroes save a ship that was almost sunk by Nemo's torpedoes. But what about all the sunken ships? Who cares. The premise of the quest is quickly forgotten (either because of slack scriptwriting that doesn't explain Nemo's motives or cutting of the original episodes) and everyone just enjoys the voyage. Although Nemo is basically a homicidal monomaniac he is also a gentleman who loves oceans (think about prototype of Karl Stromberg from "The Spy Who Loved Me") and shows Willy & friends the wonders of the underwater world. But a treacherous crew member plots against Willy. And dangerous icebergs and giant octopus threaten the boat too.
Captain Nemo
Ned prevents sinking of an innocent ship
The animation was made in Taiwan and it looks considerably cheaper than the original series that was coproduced with Nippon Animation, practically making it anime. The sequel series is not ugly like Dingo animations but the difference to the original is still noticeable (for example Romy has developed a squint).
The new characters Aronnax and Ned are quite one-use characters, and Nemo's character is mindbogglingly conflicted. But the main characters Willy, Romy, Passepartout and Tico are the same ones that were lovable in the original series, and their adventure has funny and exciting moments.

Rating: Good (Willy Fog fans)Average (otherwise)

Finnish version voice actors: Eero Saarinen, Heikki Määttänen, Ari-Matti Hedman, Elise Langenoja, Arto Nieminen, Minna Tasanto, Anssi Känsälä ja Pauli Virta
Director: Claudio Biern Boyd

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