Fantastic Voyage (1966)

fantastic voyage poster 1966 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Special effects are dated, but charming and still quite good considering when it was made

Pacing of the film sometimes crawls

Movie Info

Movie Name: Fantastic Voyage

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): August 24, 1966

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

fantastic voyage donald pleasence

You can shrink people to a microscopic size and track them through the human body, but this is the best “map” you can make?

A scientist (Jean Del Val) has been targeted by Soviet assassins and has received a potentially fatal brain injury.  Despite this, the knowledge he possesses could be critical in the Cold War, and the government is willing to take any risk to save him.  Dr. Michaels (Donald Pleasence), Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield), Grant (Stephen Boyd), Dr. Peter Duval (Arthur Kennedy), and his assistant Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch) undergoing a procedure to make them small enough to enter the scientist’s body and save his life.  In the Proteus, the crew is going to see something that no man has seen before…but the dangers of the body might not be the only threat!

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Fantastic Voyage is a science-fiction adventure film.  A novelization of the screenplay by Isaac Asimov that was released before the film and many assumed that the science-fiction writer wrote the screenplay and story.  The film was released to critical acclaim and became a cult classic.  It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction—Color and Best Special Effects with nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Editing.  An animated series spin-off ran on ABC Saturday mornings from 1968 to 1969.

fantastic voyage antibodies raquel welch

Ok…this is pretty terrifying

It seems like Fantastic Voyage was one of those movies that was on a lot growing up on weekends, but other than watching parts of it, I didn’t really sit and watch it until much later.  While the movie sometimes has very tense moments, there are other portions of the film that play out at a snail’s pace, but overall, Fantastic Voyage succeeds.

The movie is a decent blend of real science-fiction, fantasy, and action to make a solid adventure.  Part of the problem of the film is that the set-up for experiment is rather slow.  It takes about thirty minutes for the shrinking to happen and then the movie plays out basically in real time (the period they are in the body is about sixty minutes…how long the shrinking lasts).  It isn’t real time by definition, but it is an interesting attempt.

The cast is ok.  Science fiction from the period often isn’t the most dynamic.  The film features one of Raquel Welch’s early roles, but her character is interesting in that she’s also a scientist and she isn’t developed as the romantic lead for Stephen Boyd’s lead character of Grant (which feels more progressive than some movies).  Donald Pleasence play his typical role (and the pretty obvious heavy through the movie despite the script’s attempts).  I do like Arthur O’Connell and Edmond O’Brien who play the cliché military generals (who also seem to have a lot of science background).

fantastic voyage scuba diving raquel welch

Yes! Lasers make anything more high tech!

The real grab of Fantastic Voyage is of course the special effects.  Despite being dated, they aren’t as dated as many special effects from the day and the fact that they aren’t is a good idea of how good they looked in 1966.  The movie uses the special effects to ratchet up the tension (I remember being freaked out by the antibody attack on Raquel Welch), and now the effects are the type that have a simplistic charm.

Fantastic Voyage might creep at points and some of the science now seems a bit questionable, but for the most part, the glory and wonder of the film still holds true.  If a kid can stand the pacing, it is a good little sci-fi adventure for younger viewers that still has some tension.  If you are a fan of sci-fi and haven’t seen Fantastic Voyage, it should be sought out…even if the idea that the “water” the characters are wading around in is a weird mixture of bodily fluids and not just H2O.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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