An overheated Cold War plot sees a scientist, crucial to American interests, felled by a blood clot. The only way of saving his life consists in shrinking a submarine and specialist crew to microscopic size and injecting them into the his body. They must make their way up the circulatory system to the brain and there destroy the clot. But on top of all the hazards they encounter in the body, there is also a saboteur aboard.
Who could this saboteur be? No way it’s heroic Stephen Boy… or sexy Raquel Welch. And why is Donald Pleasance sweating so much? Such obvious contrivances and other ridiculous plot moments aside, this is a helluva lot of fun. The special effects still hold up well today, and the film more than lives up to its name. It may not be quite the serious work of SF it thinks it is, but it is certainly a very entertaining and exciting pre-2001 piece of genre filmmaking.
Mono and 2.0 surround options are present here. The surround track deploys its effects to varying degrees of success. There isn’t a consistent sense of environment, and some elements (such as when the plane comes in for landing in the opening shot) aren’t always appropriately placed. But there is enough surround action to liven things up, and the dialogue is clean and undistorted. The music sounds all right, but definitely shows the 1966 vintage of the recording.
Grain comes in during the opening credits, but otherwise the print is in excellent shape. The blacks are terrific, as are the colours and contrasts generally. Ditto for the flesh tones. The image is sharp. The picture all in all is very nice to look at. It may not mark any real step forward from the previous release, but the extras (see below) certainly do.
There are two commentary tracks here, one on the film in general by Jeff Bond, and one on the isolated music track, where Bond is joined by Jon Burlingame in a talk moderated by Nick Redman. Bond’s solo effort is plenty informative, but I can’t help but wish the round table format was used for the general commentary as well, since there is more snap in the exchanges, and Redman knows how to keep the flow going. “Lava Lamps & Celluloid: A Tribute to the Visual Effects of Fantastic Voyage” is a self-explanatory featurette, with various FX artists talking about what went on in the making of the film’s magic. The multi-angle storyboard-to-scene comparison has its angle 2 and 3 reversed from what the menu promises, but otherwise works fine. The galleries are quite extensive. One involves the film’s models, and shows them in rotating three dimensions. The other galleries involve the script-to-storyboard progress of a deleted scene, the storyboards for the preminiaturization sequence, production art, production stills, posters, lobby cards, and an interactive pressbook. The theatrical trailer is accompanied by three TV spots. There are also some helpful liner notes. A pretty complete package, it must be said.
This was an important entry in 60’s SF, and it’s nice to see it get the treatment it deserves.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Isolated Music Score with Commentary
- “Lava Lamps & Celluloid: A Tribute to the Visual Effects of Fantastic Planet” Featurette
- Storyboard-to-Scene Comparison
- Original Prop Stills
- Still Galleries
- Interactive Pressbook
- Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots