Fantastic Voyage (1966)
|Category||Science Fiction||Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced|
|Year Of Production||1966|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard Fleischer|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The movie is well-catered for with a decent script and some reasonably good acting performances. The script is very clichéd, but manages to avoid the jingoism that accompanied many movies of this era. The flow of the story is augmented with some interesting 'special effects'. Mainly consisting of camera angles that simulated reducing size, there was also extensive use of matting to complete the picture of being inside a human body. Added to this were some nice sets including the interior of a small nuclear powered submarine and a funky looking laser and a very futuristic miniaturization chamber. One thing I did find amusing was the use of an underground parking facility as the base of operations.
Since this movie has been a staple on TV and at film festivals for over 30 years, it's fair to say few people haven't seen it before. For those of you who haven't, a very quick synopsis is in order.
The movie opens with Grant (Stephen Boyd) safely bringing a scientist vital to the CMDF (Combined Miniature Deterrent Force) into the country by airplane. After being relieved of his package and during the final car journey to CMDF headquarters, there is a failed assassination attempt in which the scientist suffers a near-terminal blow to the head.
Grant is then co-opted into assisting a surgical team who are going to try and repair the damage to the scientist's brain by being miniaturized onboard a nuclear powered submarine, the Proteus, and injected into the bloodstream of the patient. From there, they will then have 60 minutes in which to navigate the body, reach the brain and repair the damage before the effects of miniaturization wear off and they begin growing and are attacked by the body's immune system. Naturally, there is a suspicion that there is a traitor in their midst who may attempt to sabotage the mission - hence Grant's presence.
The crew comprises Grant as security and communications; Dr Michaels (Donald Pleasance), the cardio-vascular expert whose job it is to navigate them successfully to the brain; Dr Duval (Arthur Kennedy), the surgeon who will perform the surgery using a laser to repair the damage; Cora Peterson (Raquel Welsh), Dr. Duval's assistant and laser expert; and Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield), the pilot of the Proteus.
There are a lot of interesting concepts used in this movie and it's worth a watch just to see how far our perceptions of the human body have come since the mid-60s. Naturally, anyone having seen the TV series 'The Human Body' might find some of this a little silly, but given the date of its release, it is still an entertaining piece of science fiction despite all its flaws.
The transfer is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness varied between scenes due to the composited nature of the film. Where there were no matte shots on offer, sharpness was very acceptable, whereas matted scenes showed more fuzziness with loss of detail. Shadow detail was more-or-less the same throughout. Fine detail and good depth are only discernible during more brightly-lit scenes. Grain was pleasantly subdued during the entire movie. Low level noise was not an issue during much of the movie, although some matte scenes did exhibit some very minor blooming.
The most problematic aspect of the transfer was the colour. The palette used was fairly dark, with many of the early scenes utilizing large quantities of grey, giving a much darker feel to the movie. Once 'inside the body', so to speak, the primary colours of red and blue which were utilized so effectively in the theatrical release of the movie looked pale and washed-out. It appears that the matting process didn't take well to the digital transfer, with many of the background or overlay shots exhibiting a greenish tinge. This is fairly consistent with other movies I've seen of this ilk, since the older the movie the more likely the special effects/matting are likely to be noticed.
Minor incidences of edge enhancement can be seen throughout the movie, but since there was a large amount of matting used, many of them don't stand out. A typical example is at 46:11 around the head of the Colonel (Arthur O'Connell) on the right of screen. There are some minor scratches and marks at the beginning of the movie with some fine lines appearing around the 48 minute mark. Generally, film artefacts are few and far between, attesting to the quality of the original source material. There is some minor aliasing (eg: 8:02 on the fluorescent lights in the ceiling) and other occasional break-ups, but they are so minor in most cases as to be incidental.
The subtitles occupy the lower third of the screen and are in white. Although they do obscure the picture to a degree, they are very visible and easily readable.
Although listed as an RSDL-formatted disc, no layer change was noted.
The soundtrack on offer was Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded in English. Since this was the only audio track on offer I naturally listened to it.
The dialogue was easy to understand and the audio sync was spot-on.
The most memorable part of the soundtrack was the music, or in many instances the almost lack of it. Many scenes used minimal music to enhance suspense, relying on a potpourri of sound effects to direct the viewer's attention. There were lots of trumpets, horns, soft plinking sounds, shrill flutes and oboes to simulate various happenings inside the body. The effect was quite elegant in its simplicity.
There was some minor effects and music 'bleed through' noted from the surround channels. The overall affect was to give a more generous feeling to the sound than would have normally been possible. Unfortunately, none of the sound effects seemed to have been redirected to the rear channels which would have been a real bonus. As it is though, even this minimal usage was highly acceptable from a movie of this vintage.
There was no LFE channel use on this disc.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|