Friday, 12 July 2013

Fantastic Voyage (1966)















What a title! set to impress with a claim like that huh. This film really is a piece of history, an old iconic pop culture movie that has inspired so many other ideas in various formats. What is interesting is (like some original sci-fi concepts) back in 66 when this film was made the idea was of course deemed fantasy, these days I don't think it is, well with robots anyway.

The plot is classic, you all know it, a group of scientists are miniaturised to microscopic proportions in order to enter the human body of a man with a brain clot. The reason, to save him obviously, and because he knows the secret to the miniaturising technology and how to perfect it. At the same time other folk (pesky Russians) are trying to whack him because he defected to the US with the technology secrets. There's a time limit, the stakes are high and everybody will revert back to their normal size when the limit expires, game on.

The start of the story is actually pretty technical in my opinion, its all quite meticulous and realistic (as far as the fantasy goes). Compare this to the 80's revamp 'InnerSpace' and this film is far superior in my humble opinion. Where as 'InnerSpace' is a very wacky over the top comedy (good comedy), this is far more sensible which I didn't expect really, it works so much better despite being a slow build up.

What I love about this film is the visuals, now I'm very sure in reality if this happened it would be pitch black inside a body, apart from what the ships lights illuminated hehe. However here we have a vibrant underwater-like ocean of life, a rainbow of soft glowing colours in a gloopy sea of bodily fluids. Within these fluids (mainly blood) we see hundreds of transparent blue and pink oxygen carrying corpuscles, antibodies, fibers, proteins, bacteria etc...whilst the crew venture through the heart and lungs on their way to the brain.

The whole visual experience looks like errr...a lava lamp and quite psychedelia in a soft way, not surprising seeing as this was the mid 60's.

What I do find amusing throughout the film is how much bad luck the team has the moment they enter the body (fantastic little injection sequence I must add, really effective). Straight away they have big problems which basically means they might have to abort, oh well can't get around that, game over, lets go. Then someone has a brilliant plan and they manage to overcome the issue, five minutes later they hit another problem, oh well can't get around that, game over, lets go. Someone has a great plan and they overcome the issue, turn the next corner bang! another problem, oh well can't get around that, game ov....etc...

How about the Proteus eh? now is that another iconic sci-fi design or what. Love the shape of that sub with the little bubble dome on top, sound effects are nice too, it reminds me of a ship from the cartoon 'The Jetsons' puttering around. It looks like they built a full scale ship too, really lovely craftsmanship, looks gorgeous, very realistic.

Despite looking like an old 'Star Trek' episode this film is a truly award winning entertainment machine. Not only does it look great (and still works well today) but its pretty tense at times too. The final moments for Donald Pleasence are still a bit harrowing as he is slowly engulfed by a large white corpuscle. His frantic squirming and panicking unnerve you quite a bit...'I can't move my hands!. I'm stuck and I can't...I can't move my hands!...Get me out!!'. Mr Pleasence most definitely steals the show throughout this film no doubt, Welsh as usual is nothing more than eye candy in a tight white jumpsuit. Quite liked Edmond O'Brien as the gruff General, everyone else was you're regular cliched sci-fi character.

All in all a fine example of good fun science fiction. Some plot holes do reveal themselves which do spoil it admittedly, mainly at the end when the Proteus is left inside the patients body half digested along with the laser gun, the bad doctor's remains (Pleasant) and all the fluid used to inject the crew originally. Surely that would all revert and cause death?. But a few niggly bits aside this film is solidly exhilarating with a lovely rose tinted charm that hasn't died in all these years.

8.5/10