Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fantastic Voyage

I was really looking forward to seeing Fantastic Voyage. It's directed by Richard Fleischer, who had a respectable career, directed some real classics, and also Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja. It has a really cool premise, with a crew shrinking themselves to go inside a man's body. I loved Joe Dante's Innerspace growing up. It also has groundbreaking for its time special effects and production design. Unfortunately, the movie itself just didn't hold my interest.

When the scientist developing the shrinking technology is nearly assassinated and rendered comatose from a blood clot in his brain, a small crew is put together to shrink down and go inside his brain to perform laser surgery on the clot. Unfortunately, I can't tell you that much about the crew, because I just wasn't very engaged by them. Raquel Welch was basically just "the girl" (though she looked amazing) and there was one scientist who constantly spouted out profound philosophical musings on what they were doing. The only performance that was fun to watch for me was Donald Pleasance as the claustrophobic scientist guy. Pleasance built a career on playing fun-to-watch supporting characters. When you're telling a high concept, fairly simple story like this, character is important. They need to be more colorful and memorable than they were in this case.

I did appreciate the attempt to ground Fantastic Voyage in real science. Obviously, the shrinking part is all made up, a necessary conceit of the premise, but Isaac Asimov worked on the story, straightening out some kinks, and giving it some scientific credibility, in terms of being inside a body and everything. It's really hard to do a science fiction movie right when you're actually paying attention to the science part of it, and I wish it happened more often.

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority on this one. I know Fantastic Voyage was and still is a well regarded sci-fi adventure. I can appreciate it on a technical level, for sure. Unfortunately, the movie just didn't reach me on a human level. This is one of those rare movies I'd actually be interested in seeing a remake of.

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