Better down where it's wetter: Captain Nemo (James Mason) and Professor Arronax (Paul Lukas)

Cartoonist/author Berkeley Breathed, of "Bloom County" and "Opus" fame, wrote a terrific commentary in the L.A. Times about the "over-pixelation" of Hollywood films and the decline of the good old-fashioned movie spectacle. He compares "2012" with Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to prove his point:

Last week, at the precise moment on screen that millions of screaming, tanned Angelenos tumbled down into a mile-deep cataclysmic crack in the planet’s exploding crust along with their high-rise condos and labradoodles, a man’s phone rang in the row of seats behind me. In a voice rising even above the sound of continental plates and Hummers scraping on each other, he discussed dining options with his caller.

“Szechuan!” he spouted. “It’s spicy!”

I looked around at my fellow multiplexers. I’d need help strangling him. I only had licorice twists. But the others didn’ t seem to notice his conversation. Worse: They didn’t care.

As I studied their faces, lit up with the shockingly realistic images of their own burning city disappearing down into the bottomless black depths of both hell and the accounting department of Columbia Pictures, I spied a common expression on them all. No, no, not rapt fascination or terror. But not exactly boredom either. Something else. It took me a moment to identify: Numbness.
With the release of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" 55 years ago, Walt Disney stumbled upon a mostly unexplored emotional response from movie audiences. This unique feeling had been lurking in cinema’s murky, black and white depths, waiting to emerge and attack moviegoers and their imaginations in a way that tears, laughter and fear – the emotions of radio, theater and books -- could neither match nor compete: Awe.
The old school, spine-tingling adolescent movie wonder may have had its last gasp somewhere in the neon-lit hallways of Darth Vader’s Death Star… but I submit that it was born, fresh, new and exciting, in the dank blue steel passageways of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, decades before.
Keep in mind, Breathed decorated his home office in the style of the Nautilus, so he is just a bit of a fan. And even if he does get a fact or two wrong ("20,000 Leagues" wasn't Disney's first live-action film. It was the first live-action film produced at the Walt Disney Studios.), Breathed makes some great points about what's lacking in what passes as a blockbuster these days. More times than not, it involves a series of lame narrative setups presented as an excuse to blow up national monuments. I'm all in favor of CG wizardry when it enhances the story, but when the CG relentlessly IS the story, I become as numb and indifferent as Breathed's Szechuan guy.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" isn't a perfect film--it tends to drag in spots--but James Mason is perfect as the slickly menacing Nemo, and Kirk Douglas' "Whale of a Tale" is one of my favorite Disney guilty pleasures. Then there's the giant squid battle. As rubbery and fake as it was, it's still a great action scene, one of Disney's most memorable. And not a pixel in sight.

The complete article: Missing Nemo: Berkeley Breathed says new movies are missing magic and drowning in pixels [UPDATED] | Hero Complex | Los Angeles Times