In 1999 an Italian animation company released one of the most bizarre attempts at cashing in on the success of James Cameron’s Titanic with a bizarre retelling of the classic tale only with a giant octopus and no tragedy whatsoever, five years later and these filmmakers were at it again with a whole new and bizarre adventure, but you must ask yourself are brave enough to go “Back to the Titanic!”
Also known as Tentacolino, this sequel to The Legend of the Titanic has a plot that may seem a little confusing to anyone even remotely sane, and if you’d manage to survive watching the first film that’s saying something. I get the basic premise, a bunch of rodents want to find the Titanic, but why? What’s the end goal here? And why is there a villainous cat who wants to stop them? It’s all a bit muddled. The story takes place three years after the events of the original film where we find Don Juan (Fabio Bacconera) and Elizabeth (Jane Alexander), along with their dog Smile (Stefano Mondini) and their pet mice Top Connors (Stefano Crescentini) and Ronnie (Sergio Luzi), who have been tasked by the U.S. Navy to explore the ocean depths in search for the wreck of the Titanic. And why is the government searching for a sunken luxury liner? Are they looking for an extremely rare mineral like the one Dirk Pitt was searching for in Raise the Titanic?
Actually, there’s no reason, in fact, the Titanic has little to no bearing on the plot of this movie as it’s more about our heroes encountering undersea civilization and helping to thwart a rebellion, basically, there’s not a lot of searching for sunken ships in this movie just a lot more bizarre shenanigans. On the journey down to the wreck of the ship a gang of sharks in prison garb find Don Juan and Elizabeth descending via a bathysphere and the shark leader named Iceteeth (Paolo Buglioni) orders his minions to cut the cable and send our pair to a watery grave at the bottom of the sea. The giant octopus (Oliviero Dinelli), the friendly but gullible idiot from the previous film, tries to bring the bathysphere to the surface but is unable to tear it free from the ocean floor, enter the merpeople, who are in time to save the occupants and bring them to the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis.
Don Juan and company undergo a “treatment” which enables them to breathe underwater, as well as given an elixir to drink that will grant them immortality, and then they are given the startling news that they will never be allowed to return to the surface world. Now, in a normal story, this is what would provide some good conflict, with some members demanding to return home while others would be happy with immortality, but not in this movie, turns out everyone is just hunky-dory with the idea of never seeing their friends and family again. This is not to say there isn’t some conflict in this so-called sequel, we do get Top Connors and Ronnie being approached by a couple of rats and they end up attending a secret meeting where they learn about a conspiracy to steal the Atlantean elixir of life so they can all gain immortality and strive for world domination – don’t wait around for any sort of explanation as to how being immortal will allow rats to conquer the world – and the rats are in league with sharks who are also in touch with couple men that are on their own expedition to find a perceived treasure in the Titanic.
Note: These two may look exactly like the villains from the previous film but going by the English dubbed version they aren’t, which is for the best as they pretty much have no bearing on the plot of this sequel whatsoever.
Not only do we get rebellious Atlantean rats to stir the blood we also have the dog Smile falling in love with a cute Atlantean Cocker Spaniel, because why not throw a little Lady and the Tramp into this completely bonkers of a movie? We also have an Atlantean King whose face is concealed by a hooded robe yet there is no big reveal as to why he has to hide his face – maybe a director’s cut reveals that he’s actually Robinson Crusoe or Long John Silver – and if things weren’t strange enough we learn that a large portion of the Atlantean population consists of living toys, with the King’s ambassador being a toy silver-fish who hops around on some sort of Jack-in-the-Box spring. It’s through a Ziegfeld follies-style number that the toys perform where our heroes learn of their status as permanent residents of Atlantis.
• Or heroes use a Bathysphere to find the wreck of the Titanic, despite the fact that such a device was not used until the 1930s and this story is supposedly taking place in 1915.
• The pressure at the depth where the Titanic rests is so great that the minute the Atlanteans opened the Bathysphere’s hatch our heroes would have been crushed instantly.
• Topside, we get a news radio report of Don Juan and Elizabeth’s disappearance, stating that “In all probability, they have ended up at bottom of the ocean along with mythical Titanic, which they were searching for so zealously” but when did the Titanic become something mythical?
• Inhabitants of Atlantis include a large group of living toys, ones that have fallen overboard and sunk to the bottom of the ocean and have somehow become sentient, basically, it’s kind of like the Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer only damper.
What I’m saying is that this wasn’t much of a sequel, instead, we are treated to a bizarre mix of musical numbers, talking sea creatures and that goofy-ass giant octopus who never stops looking creepy. Of course, the real star of this film is the voice acting and by that I mean it appears as if the actors were phoning it in from a cruise ship cabaret with accents that are all over the place and with some line deliveries that were so wooden they could have floated to the surface. Now let’s talk about the film’s animation. It’s… not great, in fact, it’s so bad that it’s almost endearing. The characters move in a jerky, unnatural way and their facial expressions look like they were drawn by a particularly unskilled toddler. Truly, the animation in the previous film was bad but what we get here is a whole new level of terrible.
But hey, at least the characters were memorable, right? I mean, who could forget the brave young hero, Tentacles McBulbhead, or the plucky heroine, Eliza “Generic Love Interest” McWaif? And don’t even get me started on the villain, Captain Mustache, who spends his two minutes of screentime twirling his facial hair and cackling like a discount Snidely Whiplash. I should mention that our heroes do, in fact, find the Titanic, or should I say the Atlanteans reward our heroes by repairing the ship and transporting them and the ship to a secret island where they will live out their immortal days. Wait a minute, are we sure this is a reward and not some sort of prison island scenario? Even the crew of the S.S. Minow had a larger gene pool to work with than what we have here. I’m not sure what Don Juan and Elizabeth are going to do when she starts popping out kids.
All in all, In Search of Titanic is a masterpiece of incompetence in storytelling and unintentional hilarity in every aspect and I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for some terrible animation, questionable voice acting and a plot that makes about as much sense as a kangaroo wearing a top hat. Just don’t go in expecting a serious historical drama when you sit down to watch this thing, or a good movie for that matter.
In Search of the Titanic (2004)
Movie Rank - 2/10
If you’re looking for a movie that will make you laugh, scratch your head, and possibly question your sanity, then In Search of Titanic is the film for you. Just don’t expect to learn much about the actual Titanic or anything sensible for that matter.