Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #89: "Fantastic Voyage" (1966)

Movie Stats:
Released 1966 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Richard Fleischer
Stars - Stephen Boyd, Donald Pleasence, Arthur Kennedy, Raquel Welch, William Redfield

Plot Summary:
When a defector (they never say he’s a Soviet but it’s implied) is brain damaged in an attempt on his life - before he can reveal his secrets naturally - a crack team is assembled on a sub that is miniaturized and sent into the defector’s blood stream. Their mission? Repair the brain damage. Boyd stars as the team’s muscle, Grant; Pleasence as team leader/navigator Dr. Michaels; Kennedy as surgeon Dr. Duval; Welch as Duval’s assistant, Cora Peterson; and Redfield as the sub’s captain, Bill Owens.

Minor violence.

Bad Stuff:
Very slow start.


I don’t like that the motivation of the traitor is never explored. The implication is that the person works for “the other side,” but why? How was that person recruited? Was he/she a traitor all along? It’s not discussed at all. Not even a, “Hey, what happened to that person?” when the rest of the crew returns without him/her.

Good Stuff:
It was clever. I particularly enjoyed the characters’ ability to problem solve, especially since, for the most part, people didn’t freak out. Problem arises, characters brainstorm how to overcome it. It was nice to see competency and resolve.

I liked how Grant was a reluctant hero. Here’s this very Bond-like character, and when he’s faced with the prospect of being miniaturized and injected into someone’s bloodstream, he’s like, “Can we not?” Amusing.

Pleasence’s performance is very compelling. There’s something about his mannerisms and voice that always gives me the creeps. Yet, I can’t look away.

The Verdict:
Mostly I think this movie is just really, really boring. There’s a whole half hour before they even get injected into the guy, but then once they’re in, it’s not exactly a thrill ride. I mean, stuff happens, but it all felt pretty tame to me. Although, they did avoid one of my biggest action movie pet peeves, the old “we have ten minutes to stop the bad thing from happening but it will take half an hour of the movie to show that.” They had 60 minutes to get in, fix the brain damage, and get out, and that portion of the film was approximately 60 minutes long. So I liked that. On the flip side, there was no resolution. [SPOILER-y] They accomplish their mission but does it do anything? Does the guy wake up and spill his secrets? We’ll never know. [SPOILER] Ultimately, I think this is another “meh” for me.

I give it 2.75 stars.


Patricia said...

This is one of those movies that was shown on TV when I was at an impressionable age, and I totally watched it because I was fascinated with the concept. They get shrunk down and injected into a guy? Cool!

I remember nothing else.

balyien said...

I do like the concept. And I also liked a lot of the challenges that they faced inside the body. However, I can completely understand why it wasn't memorable for you.