Fantastic Voyage (1966)

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Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:32 am

Fantastic? Well, yes. This was a rare big budget sci-fi picture from the sixties. I have, kind of surprisingly, gotten to like this one more as I got older. I say surprisingly because as many get older, they tend to turn their noses up at some of the films which astounded them as a child. But, in this case, what impresses me more nowadays is the fact that there are few very good sci-fi films (even less truly great ones, but that's another matter). This one holds up pretty well overall, especially with the recent DVD releases. The plot concerns a special team of scientists and one secret agent shrunken to microscopic size and injected into the body of an injured scientist to effect repairs on the brain.

The cast is, of course, first class, even if they do play slightly cardboard characters. I always looked at Stephen Boyd's character as a James Bond-type, stuck in a wild sci-fi scenario. It's interesting that this film falls right in-between THUNDERBALL (1965) and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967). I almost look at this as the 'lost' 007 adventure - maybe too wild & classified to be included in the official list. I also like all the 'prep' scenes before the actual adventure begins; I used to find them boring as a kid, but now they remind me of, for example, the lengthy decontamination scene in THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971). Raquel Welch is probably in her most boring role, but it IS Welch, right after ONE MILLION YEARS BC. Even covered up in the suit she wears here, she can't help but be eye candy for most males.

The one who steals most of the scenes, as usual, is Donald Pleasence, playing his usual disturbing eccentric, possibly psychotic - more than a little tense during most of the film. Some of the 'errors' or script problems have already been mentioned elsewhere. What about Boyd leaving Pleasence on the ship towards the end, right after Boyd decides the other suspect must be innocent? Doesn't that mean Pleasence is now the prime suspect? Why leave him to probably wreak havoc on the ship? Oh, well. I also liked Edmond O'Brien and Arthur O'Connell as the military officers supervising the mission from outside - very good performances. There's a nearly-great moment of O'Brien's general trying to decide on whether he should squish an ant. Recent events have evidently changed his perspective somewhat.
Many of the FX also hold up well. The main question is how well does the film suggest or convince the viewer that we really are traveling through the insides of a human body - I have to say that I never really felt I was watching some sound stage (the inner ear sequence may be the weakest in this regard, but still great looking stuff). As for the corpuscles eating the ship, the Proteus: my understanding was that the ship was not just crushed but totally absorbed by the corpuscles - would that prevent the ship from growing? We'll never really know, will we?
The premise here was copied decades later to comic effect in Inner Space (87). Also, I read elsewhere, a few months ago, that shrinking a person to such an extent would make the person too small (the small lungs) to breathe air molecules. I think this fact was in reference to the all-time famous shrinking-person film, The Incredible Shrinking Man (57). Still, Scott Carey might have benefited from the technology here - if only for an hour. BoG's Score: 8 out of 10

Fantastic Trivia: James Brolin is credited in an early bit part; Boyd and Welch would reunite on film years later in an odd way - Welch starred in the revenge western Hannie Caulder (1972) and Boyd showed up in the film as a sinister gunman in an uncredited cameo; Isaac Asimov wrote the novelization of this, but wasn't responsible for the original script as some believe.
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