-Dr. Duval (Arthur Kennedy) ponders the miracle of life in Fantastic Voyage.
This memorable Richard Fleischer effort was the special effects spectacular of 1966; an imaginative, big budget (6.5. million dollar...), award-winning science fiction adventure. If you grew up in the late 1960s or 1970s, Fantastic Voyage was also likely one of your favorite genre movies; one filled with action, danger and special effects spectacle the likes of which you had never conceived.
This well-regarded genre film escorts the audience inside the HQ of the CMDF (Combined Miniature Deterrent Forces), an American military-intelligence agency that has developed the ability to shrink down to microscopic levels everything from people and equipment to large-scale vehicles. The problem with this technique is that the miniaturization process becomes unstable after a mere sixty minutes, and all shrunken persons or objects then return to normal size.
The mission doesn't quite turn out that way. Security agent Grant (Stephen Boyd), neuro-surgeon Dr. Duval (Arthur Kennedy), his beautiful assistant Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch), sub Captain Owens (William Redfield) and team leader, Dr. Michaels (Donald Pleasence) encounter an array of unexpected and wild dangers on their fantastic voyage.
I've always admired and enjoyed Fantastic Voyage, but watching it again in 2015 with my son Joel, it is not difficult for the objective viewer to discern some of the film's more notable shortcomings.
My two favorite images, however, occur late in the film. There's a terrifying moment wherein a white corpuscle descends on the dorsal dome of the Proteus, where Captain Michaels (Pleasence) has become trapped following a crash. The corpuscle crushes the glass of the dome, and proceeds to envelope Michaels' (screaming) head before our eyes. That fatal moment -- which Pleasence really sells -- has haunted me since I was a kid. Imagine being eaten, head-first, by a giant cell.