Every now and then, something happens to remind us not only how unpredictable nature is, but how dangerous and devastating it can be. Take Hurricane Patricia for example. This was one of the most, if not the most, powerful hurricanes to be recorded at sea. If you saw the satellite images, this storm was massive, way bigger than Katrina. Luckily for everyone, the storm did end up losing strength so it did not do as much damage as people feared. Today’s movie is loosely based on another example of how destructive nature can be. And if it wasn’t for someone commenting on my movie collection early on in this blog, then I probably would never have owned Krakatoa: East Of Java.
The plot: On the island of Krakatoa, villagers are unnerved by the rumblings and smoke coming from the volcano. In the port city of Anjer, the Batavia Queen, captained by Chris Hanson, is loading up supplies for and passengers for a salvage mission, among them Douglas Rigby (the owner and operator of a diving bell), Giovanni and Leoncavallo Borghese, (hot air balloon pilots), four Japanese pearl divers led by a woman named Toshi, Harry Connerly (a diver) and his mistress Charley (a lounge singer), and Laura (a woman that had an affair with Hanson). Before they are to set sail, they are approached by government authorities and order Hanson to take 30 convicts to a nearby island, which Chris reluctantly agrees to. Hanson recognizes one of the the prisoners, a man named Lester Danzig, and allows him to stay on the deck during the trip as opposed to staying in the hold with the other prisoners. During the voyage, Hanson talks to Laura about what happened with her husband and she admits that he threatened to take her son Peter if she asked for a divorce but she asked anyways as she wanted to be with Hanson. Meanwhile, the crew notice some strange things during the voyage such as huge flocks of seabirds in the air, as well as fiery explosions coming from the sea. Danzig sees Connerly taking some medicine for a lung disease and comments about how Hanson doesn’t know as the medicine could cause him to hallucinate. Danzig also mentions to Connerly that Laura had been in a mental institution for a year and questions the truth of their mission. Connerly tells the others and they all approach Hanson with their concerns about the mission and Hanson informs them that Laura’s husband had taken 10 packages of pearls worth a fortune, along with Laura’s son Peter, with him when his ship, the Arianna, sank somewhere off the coast of Krakatoa. He put together the expedition in order to retrieve the pearls as well as find out what happened to Peter. As they are preparing to eat dinner, a high pitched whistling is heard coming from the ocean itself. As a result of the medicine he was taking, plus the whistling sound, Connerly begins to hallucinate and attacks one of the pearl divers, as well as several of the crew members that try to stop him. Connerly is finally subdued and Hanson orders him placed in a slatted box and suspended over the deck so he won’t hurt anyone. As they get closer to Krakatoa, the heat begins to get unbearable and Charley pleads with Hanson to free Connerly from the box, which Hanson agrees to do. Some time later, they pass through a thick steam cloud and finally arrive at Krakatoa. The Borgheses use their hot air balloon to search the area from the sky, while Rigby goes down in his diving bell to search the ocean floor. The Borgheses spot the Arianna and drop a signal buoy to mark it’s location but when the propeller stops working, their balloon begins to drift over and into the volcano. They begin to toss everything overboard in order to lighten their load and end up being blasted out of the crater but the basket catches fire and they are forced to jump into the sea, where they are picked up by one of the Batavia Queen’s lifeboats. Danzig informs Hanson about Connerly’s condition, which causes Hanson to begin suiting up to dive himself. When Connerly sees this, the two men begin to argue about it but when Rigby’s diving bell is stuck on some reefs, the two men put aside the argument in order to save him. Meanwhile, Danzig uses the opportunity to sneak into Hanson’s cabin and steal a gun, which he uses to knock out the jailer and free the other prisoners. The prisoners then throw the jailer overboard in chains before taking over the rest of the ship and placing the crew in the cargo hold. Meanwhile, after freeing the diving bell, Hanson and Connerly proceed to the Arianna and, locating the safe, have it hauled back onto the ship before they, along with Toshi and the other divers. head back themselves, where they find the Danzig and the prisoners in charge. Danzig has everyone but Hanson placed in the hold and then he shows Hanson that the only thing in the safe was a watch. When an explosion occurs on Krakatoa, Hanson uses the distraction to grab the gun from Danzig then, after killing two of the prisoners, he uses a steam hose to force the remaining prisoners overboard, where the end up swimming to the island. After being freed from the hold, Rigby finds the ship’s log inside the safe, saying that it had made a last stop in Palembang before it sank, and a letter inside the log shows that Peter left the ship to attend the mission school there. Hanson decides to head to Palembang to find Peter, but Krakatoa begins to continuously erupt, sending lava bombs into the air and falling onto the ship, one of them killing Toshi. When they arrive at Palembang, they find the school abandoned and burning but a passing ship tells them that the students and teachers had already boarded a boat heading for Java. The Batavia Queen heads for Java and soon comes across a sinking ship, which happens to be the ship carrying the students. They manage to rescue everyone, including Peter, who is reunited with his mother. As they grab all the supplies that were on the boat, one of them is a trunk belonging to Peter, which contains the pearls. Hanson, knowing that the eruption will cause a tsunami, begins preparing his ship to head to deep water so they can ride it out, but Connerly, Charley, Giovanni, and the diving girls wish to take the life boat to Anjer. Hanson argues that Anjer will be destroyed by the tsunami but when they refuse to stay, he gives them each their share of the pearls and lets them go. Connerly and the others make it to Anjer but when the tsunami hits, they are all killed as the city is wiped out. Meanwhile, the Batavia Queen is able to ride out the tsunami and
The eruption of Krakatoa is one of the most deadly volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The explosions from the eruption could be heard in Perth, Australia, almost 2800 miles away and the shock waves are said to have circled the globe seven times according to barographs. The ash and debris cloud from the eruption was said to have extended 275 miles and darkened the sky in the immediate area for 3 days. The force of the eruption is estimated to have the explosive fource of 200 megatons of TNT, which is 1000 times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. You would think that with something as fantastic as this as the basis, a movie about it would be a success. However Krakatoa: East Of Java was a failure commercially and the critics hated it, as shown by the 0% rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes.
I have never really been one for disaster movies but I have always been fascinated by Krakatoa so when this movie was suggested to me, I decided to give it a shot. Visually, this movie is stunning. The special effects, particularly involving the eruption, were incredible and well deserving of the Academy Award nomination the movie received. However, the acting seemed rather wooden to me, with hardly anyone really projecting any emotion into their delivery. The story itself was probably the weakest part of the movie. This was a case where “more is less” because they had so many subplots that they tried to squeeze into the movie that it weakened the picture as a whole. This is a great movie to watch for it’s effects, but if there was a way to get rid of the dialogue without losing the rest of the sounds, then it would be more enjoyable to me.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5