Titanic Turkeys: The Legend of the Titanic
Posted by Chris Lang on November 27, 2013 at 2:40 PM
In honor of Turkey Day, I’m now discussing the second of two films that truly deserve to be called ‘Titanic Turkeys’.
Today, I’ll be looking at the OTHER animated Titanic movie, The Legend of the Titanic. Directed by Orlando Corradi, this Mondo TV production has to be one of the worst animated movies ever made. And not because of the animation, which is actually a lot better in quality than the animation for Titanic: The Legend Goes On. No, this film is astonishingly bad due to its story and its insensitive handling of its subject matter.
As I said in the previous Titanic Turkeys article, knockoffs of popular films were common in the 90s. James Cameron’s Titanic had two of them, and this is the other one. I think it’s worth noting that this one came first as it was released in 1999, and Titanic: The Legend Goes On was released in 2001. Both films feature talking mice and other animals, but this one goes a lot farther with its fairy tale and fantastic elements. And most people who’ve seen this film agree that it goes TOO far.
The film opens in New York in an apartment, where an aged mouse in a striped shirt is speaking to his grandkids. The mouse was a sailor on the Titanic, who settled down in New York after the ship sank. The kids read an old newspaper clipping about the Titanic, which describes the tragedy and mentions missing persons. The old mouse, Top Connors, says that ‘The truth of the matter is those missing persons were never really missing. It’s all a misunderstanding’.
And this is the point where I go “What the hell are you talking about?”
The grandkids also notice a whistle, which the old Top Connors said was for summoning the terrible Mr. Ice. The grandkids demand that he tell the story, which he does, flashing back to when he was just a lad. Already, we’ve got some bad signs here with the whole ‘misunderstanding’ line. Those who stick around after that point will find the meaning to be far worse than they thought, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’re introduced to the female lead, Elizabeth, in a sequence that’s a blatant ripoff of the introduction of the young Rose in James Cameron’s Titanic. And then the young Top Connors meets with one of his superiors, who asks him to give the roll call of the mouse passengers. Instead of mice just sneaking aboard the ship, we’ve got a whole bunch of mice pretending to be sailors for some never-explained reason, and others who are their ‘passengers’. Top Connors lists the ‘passengers’ by name, but none of them are important except for Ronnie, the soccer-playing mouse who becomes his best friend, and Stella, the girl he falls in love with but doesn’t appear much in the film until the end.
Elizabeth and her father, the Duke, are in an argument over the Duke and Elizabeth’s stepmother Rachel wishing her to marry Everard Maltravers, an obviously evil whaling tycoon. From the very start, we can see that our villain is a lot less subtle than Caladon Hockley from the James Cameron film, as Maltravers has grey hair, a mustache, and an eyepatch. He also has a hunched, raspy-voiced servant named Jeffries.
And it’s then that we’re introduced to Elizabeth’s romantic interest, Don Juan. Don Juan is the leader of a band of gypsies, and entertains the people at the dock by dancing with his dog Smiley. It is, of course, love at first sight even though Elizabeth and Don Juan don’t speak to each other during this scene at all. Elizabeth gives Smiley her glove, and the dog returns it to his master. And everyone boards the Titanic and it sets sail.
Maltravers plans to secure exclusive worldwide whaling rights from the Duke, as well as marrying the Duke’s daughter and gaining access to the Duke’s fortune. Maltravers makes it quite clear that all he cares about is money and power. As I said, he’s a completely unsubtle villain. While Maltravers instructs Jeffries to let the captains of Maltravers’ fleet know that he’ll secure the whaling rights soon, Top Connors and Ronnie attend a meeting hosted by the mouse ‘captain’ and a sailor mouse named Camembert who is in charge of the food.
Top Connors and Ronnie then look in on the humans eating dinner, and Ronnie finds Elizabeth attractive. Top Connors reminds Ronnie that Elizabeth is a human woman, and Ronnie is a mouse. Ronnie then delivers what has to be the funniest line in the movie (if perhaps not entirely for the reasons the writers intended). “Well there’s one thing I’m not, and that’s a racist.” The only reason this scene’s important is because Ronnie suggests to Top Connors that they help Elizabeth in her struggle against her wicked stepmother’s plan to marry her off to Maltravers.
And it’s here where the film goes crazy, and never recovers. Elizabeth goes out on deck, and while staring over the railing, she sheds a tear. The tear hits a dolphin, who then leaps from the water and talks to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is surprised that she can understand what the dolphins are saying. The dolphin speaking to her says (and I quote) “You can understand us thanks to a net of magic moonbeams that caught your tears as they fell into the water. We added a little magic of our own, and voila!”
The dolphin tells Elizabeth that the dolphins are trying to help their friends, the whales. Maltravers has expanded his fleet and intends to hunt them even in waters that, up until now, had been forbidden to whalers. Maltravers, meanwhile, sends Jeffries out to keep an eye on Elizabeth, and to speak with their ‘special friend’. And here’s where things get even crazier.
Jeffries heads off to the rail of the ship and while no one else is looking, blows the whistle we saw in the prologue. From the water emerges a shark wearing a striped prison hat and a sticker with a number on his chest. The shark speaks to Jeffries as if they’re acquainted (did Jeffries cry into a net of magic moonbeams at some point, too? It’s never explained), and Jeffries refers to the shark as ‘Ice’. He tells Ice to stay close to the ship, and Ice says he and the boys are ready to destroy anything, any time.
Â And THIS is the point where I just had to pause the movie, go to an empty room at the other side of the house, and shout “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!” (And I saw this film about a year before the Nostalgia Critic reviewed it, by the way). A shark named Ice, who boasts about destroying anything, any time? Who’s in league with an evil whaler? This movie is NOT going where I think it’s going, is it? It is, isn’t it?
At this point I think I’ll do what I did last time and discuss the film with the Titanic hypothetically replaced with a fictional ship, and then the film as is, with the Titanic.
If you took out the Titanic and replaced it with a fictional ship:
Already this movie has gone way beyond ridiculous, with talking dolphins and magic moonbeams, and an evil whaler whose butler/henchman talks to sharks. The whole thing with mice pretending to be sailors is nowhere near as ludicrous by comparison. But it’s going to get worse, people.
Top Connors and Ronnie (who thanks to the magic can speak to Elizabeth, too) advise Elizabeth to talk to her father about how she does not wish to marry Maltravers. She tells her father she hates Maltravers and everything he stands for, and this convinces the Duke (who says he only wants her to be happy). The mice and Smiley then arrange for Elizabeth and Don Juan to meet with each other on deck, and even though they’ve never spoken to each other before this point, Elizabeth and Don Juan are clearly in love with each other.
With the marriage plan foiled by Elizabeth’s refusal and her falling for Don Juan, Maltravers and the stepmother discuss their backup plan. Top Connors and Ronnie overhear Maltravers planning on sinking the ship while at the same time sending a telegraph to his fleet telling them they have the whaling rights to the forbidden waters. Ronnie and Top Connors stop the telegraph from being sent by having the mice cut the wires. Meanwhile, Jeffries summons Mr. Ice, telling the shark that the ship has to be sunk, but not a second before midnight.
Maltravers lures the Duke to his stateroom and holds him at gunpoint, demanding that he sign the documents handing over the whaling territories. The stepmother then makes the Duke sign a will leaving his fortune to her. Then the villains tie the Duke to a chair and leave aboard a stolen lifeboat. Meanwhile in the ocean, Mr. Ice and his evil gang of sharks (who also have stripes and numbers) trick a good-natured but incredibly strong octopus named Tentacles into throwing an iceberg into the ship’s path. When the dolphins tell Tentacles what he has done, he is horrified.
So the iceberg hits the ship, and the crew needs to send an SOS, but the mice realize that they need to fix the wires they cut or else the SOS won’t go through. After their attempts to put the wire back together fail, Camembert suggests tying the severed parts to his mustache, which fills in the gap. It looks pretty comical, with his nose glowing, but then afterward it appears that this has killed him. Top Connors eulogizes Camembert as a hero. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Don Juan free the Duke, who makes it aboard a lifeboat.
Tentacles surfaces, and as the ship starts to break in two, Tentacles holds the ship together long enough for everyone else to escape, including the band. Tentacles even rescues the captain, grabbing him and placing him on the back of one of the dolphins. Tentacles speaks to Don Juan and Elizabeth about how it’s his fault, but Elizabeth assures him that “this all happened because of an evil greedy human being.” The whales arrive, in time to rescue Don Juan, Elizabeth, Top Connors, Ronnie, and Smiley, but Tentacles’ strength fades and he and the ship sink down to the bottom.
Maltravers, Rachel the stepmother, and Jeffries (and Rachel’s sister who never actually does anything in the film so I have no idea why she even exists) end up being lost at sea in the lifeboat, the signed documents now useless to them if they can’t make it back to civilization. Everyone else, however, DOES make it back, and Don Juan and Elizabeth are married in New York (and so are Top Connors and Stella). They then are told by some other mice to head to the Brooklyn Bridge. There, the dolphins and the whales are waiting for them, and so is Tentacles, having somehow survived being crushed by the ship.
Camembert is also there, alive and well with no explanation despite his apparently being electrocuted. A big party ensues, and the older Top Connors finishes his story by saying that though Maltravers is long gone, there are still others like him out there and whales are still being hunted. It’s then that the older Stella tells the grandkids that while their grandfather loves to tell stories, they shouldn’t take him too seriously (implying that he made the whole story up). And the film ends with Top Connors and Stella hugging.
Take the Titanic out of this film, and it’s still an insane, beyond ridiculous, nonsensical mess. How did Maltravers form an alliance with an evil gang of sharks? How did Tentacles and Camembert survive? Why did Maltravers plan this needlessly-complicated scheme to obtain whaling rights? Did the older Top Connors make up most or all of the story (which would explain a lot, admittedly), and if so, how’d he come to care about saving the whales, and what’s the real story?
Leave the Titanic in and:
This film is an insult to the 1500 or more people who died in the sinking of the Titanic. Really, what were the makers of this film THINKING when they decided to make a Titanic movie where the only fatalities are a mouse and an octopus – and both turn up alive again at the end anyway?
I expect this sort of thing from fan fiction, especially after seeing fics like ‘Goku and Anne Frank: Until the End of Time’. But this film was made by professionals — people who HAD to know what they were doing. Unlike bad fanfic which is just written by one person in their spare time, actual money was put into this. People were paid to write the script, compose the music, draw the storyboards, and animate the characters. Did they really not know that the Titanic disaster was a true story?
Â How COULD they not know? Really, I’d like to hear from those involved in the making of the film and hear their side of the story, but I wouldn’t blame them if they refused to admit they had anything to do with this. To take a real-life disaster, tie it in to saving the whales when the Titanic had nothing to do with whales, and then ending with everyone making it out alive (even the Captain, who everyone knows went down with the ship) is just … baffling. Why did they do this?
Â At least we had Stella say we shouldn’t take Top Connors’ story too seriously (though that’s a huge understatement). This is good advice for any kids who happen to see this movie. Otherwise, if they go to their teachers telling them that an evil gang of sharks (in cahoots with an evil whaler) sank the Titanic (but then a giant octopus saved everybody), those kids will probably get an F.
Of course, the Unreliable Narrator thing is like most of the movie North turning out to be the title character’s dream. It may explain some of the insanity, but it doesn’t excuse the insensitivity.
If there’s anything good I have to say about it, it’s that the song in the end credits, ‘Ocean Dreams’ (sung by Cynthia Z.) isn’t all that bad. But that’s as far as I’ll go. This movie is probably THE worst movie allegedly about the Titanic ever made.
I could go on in further detail about all the crazy things in this film (and the sequel — believe it or not, there was one), but I think I’ll save that for another time. For now, feel free to leave your comments.
Categories: Chris Langs Commentaries, Movies & TV, Animation