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Movie Review: 'Mysterious Island'

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Jerky and crude as effects technician Ray Harryhausen’s fantastical puppet creatures look today, they still convince because he gave them magnetic personalities, animating them into dynamic, dance-like poses a frame at a time. The 72-year-old Ray proves himself equally antique and charming in Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me, a documentary walking tour of his movie career shot at a 1990 museum exhibit. Unfortunately, the film clips punctuating the program are grainy washouts — especially compared with two new excellent, laserdisc-only restorations of Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Mysterious Island.

Island‘s rousing shipwreck adventure plays better than Sinbad‘s hokey fantasy, but both are buoyed by pulpy Bernard Herrmann scores, audible in lush stereo as part of the digital soundtracks or selectable in isolation on a separate track. In fact, that’s the ideal way to watch both flicks: with music but minus their tin-ear dialogue. A-