In 1868, rumors spread of a sea monster which attacks ships in the Pacific Ocean and disrupt shipping lanes. Professor Aronnax and his assistant, Conseil, board a U.S. Navy ship dispatched on an expedition to investigate the problem. They board the frigate, and are joined by master-harpooner Ned Land.
After months of patrolling, a nearby steamship explodes; when the frigate arrives, the "monster" is spotted. As the frigate's crew open fire with cannons, the "monster" rams the warship. Ned, Conseil and Aronnax are thrown overboard. The crippled frigate drifts away, not responding to their cries for help. Clinging to flotsam, Aronnax and Conseil encounter a metal vessel, and realize the "monster" is a man-made "submerging boat" that appears deserted. Going aboard, Aronnax finds a viewport and witnesses an underwater funeral, while Ned Land arrives on an overturned longboat from their ship. Aronnax resists leaving just long enough for the submarine crew to spot him.
Ned, Aronnax, and Conseil attempt to leave in the longboat, but the crew stops them. The captain introduces himself as Nemo, master of the Nautilus. He returns Ned and Conseil to the deck while offering Aronnax, whom he recognizes, the chance to stay. After Aronnax proves willing to die with his companions, Nemo allows Ned and Conseil to remain aboard.
Nemo takes them to the penal colony island of Rura Penthe, where the prisoners are loading a munitions ship. Nemo was a prisoner there, as were many of his crew. Nautilus rams the steamer, destroying it and killing the crew. Nemo tells Aronnax that he saved thousands from death in war, and that this "hated nation" tortured his wife and son to death while attempting to force him to reveal his discoveries. In Nemo's cabin, Ned finds the coordinates of Nemo's secret island base, Vulcania, and releases messages in bottles.
Off the coast of New Guinea, Nautilus becomes stranded on a reef. Nemo allows Ned to go ashore with Conseil, ostensibly to collect specimens, while admonishing them to stay on the beach. Ned goes exploring for avenues of escape, and finds human skulls posted on stakes. Ned rejoins Conseil, and they row away, pursued by cannibals. Aboard Nautilus, the cannibals are repelled by electrical charges sent through its hull. Nemo confines Ned to the brig for disobeying orders.
A warship fires upon Nautilus, which descends into the depths, where it attracts a giant squid. After an electric charge fails to repel it, Nemo and his men surface during a storm to dislodge it. Nemo is caught in one of its tentacles, and Ned, having escaped from captivity, harpoons the squid in the eye, saving Nemo. Nemo has a change of heart and claims he wants to make peace with the world.
As Nautilus nears Vulcania, Nemo finds the island surrounded by warships, with marines converging on his base. On the deck Ned tries to identify himself to the warships. Aronnax is furious, recognizing that Nemo will destroy all evidence of his discoveries. Nemo, having submerged Nautilus to enter his base, goes ashore and activates a prearranged time bomb, but is mortally wounded from a bullet to his back. After navigating the submarine away from Vulcania, Nemo announces that he will be "taking the Nautilus down for the last time". The crew declares that they will accompany their captain.
Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned are confined to their cabins, while Nautilus's crew also retreat to their cabins at Nemo's instructions. Ned escapes and manages to surface the submarine, hitting a reef in the process, causing her to flood. Nemo dies viewing his beloved undersea domain.
Aronnax tries retrieving his journal, but the urgency of their escape obliges Ned to knock him unconscious and carry him out. Aboard Nautilus's skiff, the three companions along with Nemo's pet sea lion, Esmeralda, witness Vulcania explode and a billowing mushroom cloud rise above the island's destruction. Ned apologizes to Aronnax for hitting him, but Aronnax concedes that the loss of his journal might have been for the best. As the Nautilus sinks, Nemo's last words to Aronnax echo: "There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass...in God's good time."
Only logged in users may leave a review.