According to latest news reports director James Cameron is going to remake the 1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage . . .

We here at Sci-Fi Movie Page are usually quite opposed to any remakes. After all, why bother? Remakes usually suck – I mean have you sat through the recent Halloween and Omen remakes for instance?

Sure, there are remakes that actually wind up being better than the movies that “inspired” them: the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing spring to mind. (And we’re also kinda partial to the 1980s remake of The Blob, but not particularly looking forward at all to Rob Zombie’s planned remake.)

We’re however not at all opposed to a remake of the 1966 science fiction flick Fantastic Voyage because – let’s be honest here - it wasn’t all that good to begin with. When we first saw the movie we weren’t all that impressed with it and gave it two-and-a-half stars out of four, which was probably hopelessly too generous. A short while back we picked up a cheap copy of the DVD for less than two U.S. dollars (the cover was missing for some reason) and decided to give it another shot.

The DVD’s widescreen transfer may have been, er, fantastic but we are ashamed to admit to falling asleep watching Fantastic Voyage for the second time . Even clocking in at a 100 minutes the movie is simply too slow and dull. Leonard Maltin describes the movie as “tremendously entertaining,” but we have a suspicion that he was probably thinking of the similarly-themed Innerspace . . .

(Yup, the only problem with a Fantastic Voyage remake is that the movie has already been “remade” as the 1987 sci-fi comedy action flick Innerspace, directed by Joe Dante and starring a young Dennis Quaid along with Meg Ryan and Martin Short.)

"'A woman has no place on a mission like this,' someone grumbles when it is decided to take Raquel Welch along."

The 1966 movie starred Stephen Boyd as the hero along with Raquel Welch, Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence, Arthur Kennedy, William Redfield and Arthur O'Connell.

The screenplay was by Harry Kleiner and based on a story by Otto Klement and Jay Lewis Bixby. (It is a popular misconception that the movie is based on an Isaac Asimov book, probably something to do with the fact that the book was released six months before the movie’s release! The author however only wrote the novelization, which was based the screenplay – not the other way round. Hey, legendary science fiction authors have to make a living too, you know . . .)

It was directed by Richard Fleischer whose genre efforts include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Soylent Green, Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja (the 1985 original, not the planned remake) and Amityville 3-D.

In the original movie a high-tech submarine and its human crew are miniaturized to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a scientist. Their mission is to save the scientist’s life by surgically removing a blood clot in his brain . . .

Fantastic Voyage has dated a lot since its original release back in 1966. First there is the film’s dated Cold War setting – obviously the first thing to be jettisoned in any remake.

In the original film the United States and the Soviets have discovered a way to miniaturize both living and inanimate objects – something which will be quite handy when you want to invade another country for instance. Just sneak an entire miniaturized invading army through their borders in, let’s say, some tourist’s makeup kit or something and de-miniaturize them on the other side!

Only problem is that the miniaturization process only lasts an hour – an issue if your tourist has to take any lengthy cross-continental flights.

In the beginning of the movie we see how a scientist who has discovered a way to keep objects miniaturized indefinitely barely escapes an assassination attempt. Only problem is that he is now in a deep coma and the miniature sub crew only has an hour to perform the life-saving surgery. (It’d be nasty if the submarine were to grow to normal size inside the hapless patient’s bloodstream – an entirely different kind of movie altogether!)

Dated Cold War setting aside, the movie has dated in many other ways and we’re not just talking about the fashions of the era. First off there’s the movie’s chauvinist attitude. “A woman has no place on a mission like this,” someone grumbles when it is decided to take Raquel Welch’s character along. We also know who a Commie sympathizer might be when the character in question holds atheist opinions. (Mind you, Hollywood’s attitude towards atheists still hasn’t changed much: they usually still are the villains nowadays!)


Next: "James Cameron will probably utilize the same special effects processes that he used to create those eye-popping visuals for Avatar"




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