Ships traveling the high seas start to report sightings of a large sea monster. Possibly an unknown breed of whale. Fearing a threat to shipping, the American frigate Abraham Lincoln is dispatched to hunt the monster down. Included on the expedition is French marine biologist Professor Pierre Aronnax and his servant Conseil.
When the creature is finally tracked down, the encounter does not go according to plan. The Abraham Lincoln is left crippled with a damaged rudder, and Aronnax and Conseil are lost overboard along with Ned Land, master harpoonist.
Rescue comes in the most unexpected manner when the Whale turns out not to be a whale at all, but is in fact a futuristic submarine. The three men are brought on board where they meet Captain Nemo who built the Nautilus, as it is known. Nemo explains that to maintain secrecy the three must remain on board, however they have the freedom of the ship. Aronnax and Conseil are fascinated by the prospect, but Land wants only his freedom.
In the following months they experience the wonders of the under sea world. From Atlantis, to the Antarctic ice shelves.
But Captain Nemo is a troubled man, and as time goes on his madness and brutality becomes more and more apparent. The three must find a way escape before Nemo kills them all.