Monday, March 28, 2011

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

For a while I thought the Rugrats episode was all I needed of the well-worn Fantastic Voyage plot, but with its inclusion in the sci-fi list and this awesome poster, I finally caught it on netflix instant. The often-adapted/referenced tale follows a group of men and a lady who agree to shrink themselves so they can travel through a dying man's bloodstream and destroy an unreachable bloodclot with a laser gun. Grant (Stephen Boyd) is a manly soldier or something (I never actually caught on to his job), Capt Bill Owens (William Redfield) pilots the sub, Dr Michaels (Donald Pleasance) is an atheist circulatory-system expert, Dr Duval (Arthur Kennedy) is a melodramatic monologuer and possibly a Communist, and Cora (Raquel Welch) is his assistant and a lady. They travel around the body in a little submarine and experience the wonders- and TERRORS- of the human body.

Even though the story and plot structure were familiar to me, I still enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. The script picks up almost immediately, launching its characters into a tiny adventure within 10 minutes and leaving room for development and relationship exploration as they hang out in close quarters. The main crew is full of cliches- the overly macho hero, the intelligent but demure lady, the suspiciously practical scientist who's probably evil, etc, but they're all enjoyable enough to watch, with a range of dangerous scrapes popping up in the middle of most conversations. The sets are really cool, seemingly a mix of microscopic photography and huge psychedelic props, accentuated with bright colors and pretty good special effects.

But really, the best part about this movie are the two military commanders who watch the proceedings from the control room. They're both inexplicably brilliant at medical science and mathematical calculations, plus they're totally dating each other. They have all these little cute side-conversations that don't particularly pertain to anything, evoking a probable secret life together. It is adorable. I love them.

Anyway, it's better than I thought it would be, but nothing special. The visuals are cool, the story moves along at a good pace, and there are a few impressively tense moments that I dug. It's dated, of course, and most of the characters are boring/predictable, but I still liked it.


PS This movie totally inspired a Dali painting. Awesome.

Pair This Movie With: Uhh any of the many tv episodes that reference it, starting with The Venture Bros.' "The Diving Bell vs The Butterglider". Also I think Silent Running would be a cool pairing, mainly for some visual similarities.


  1. While the original was kinda fun, this is one of the few movies that I wouldn't mind seeing remade, partly to include the expanded medical knowledge of the human body and partly to make it reflect the current political environment. Between stem cell research, the fight over abortion, AIDS research, and other medical issues that inevitably became moral issues as well, there's much more room to turn this into a smarter adventure story.

  2. Been meaning to see this one for a while now....
    You say it's on Netflix instant?

    Then, I'll be viewing it soon. Thanks!

  3. Aww you lot are too young! I looove this movie and have been making jokes about having a tiny Raquel Welch shrunk down and wandering round inside me when I'm ill ever since I saw it.

    Notice how the atonal(ish) musical score kicks in for the first time after about 45 minutes in to the movie! WTF?

    And does anyone else here remember the Fantastic Voyage cartoon series! I used to watch it in the 70s on Saturday mornings when I was, kinda, growing up!

    I'm really glad you sort of liked this movie... it's definitely a once or twice a decade comfort movie for me. This is a really entertaining review of it. Hadn't noticed those guys before... will keep an eye out for lurid campness!

    Oh, bugger. I'm going to have to watch this one again soon methinks.

  4. Rich: I agree, a remake could be really interesting given advanced medical knowledge as well as better special effects. I haven't seen it, but wasn't INNERSPACE sort of a remake of this? That's from the 80's though.

    Andrew: Well it was as of press time, anyway! I hope you enjoy it!

    Nuts4r2: Haha yeah this is actually the first time I've seen Raquel Welch in her heyday! And you know what, I don't think I even noticed that about the music. Weird. As for the tv show, I knew there was one but I've never seen it. Aaaand when you rewatch it tell me if you love the adorable general guys as much as I do! I don't know why, they just really stuck out to me despite their small roles.

  5. 'Innerspace' was a comedy. It took the same concept and ran in a different direction with it.

  6. Netflix instant for the win! I'll have to catch this film as well (also far too young to have seen it in theaters). I'm still a little grumpy that they took "Fido" off of streaming so early.