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20th Century Fox presents
Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea/Fantastic Voyage (1961/1966)

"Our world faces its darkest hour, but I am convinced that, with God's help, my plan will succeed and our world will survive."
- Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 10, 2000

Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre/Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence
Other Stars: Robert Sterling, Michael Ansara, Frankie Avalon/Arthur O'Connell, William Redfield, Arthur Kennedy
Director: Irwin Allen/Richard Fleisher

MPAA Rating: PG for mild violence
Release Date: September 05, 2000
UPC: 024543005803
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Side One: Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

Irwin Allen was resposible for a number of action adventure films duringthe 1960s and '70s including The Lost World, The ToweringInferno and The Poseiden Adventure. Written and directed byAllen (who subsequently also directed the TV series), Voyage To TheBottom Of The Sea is a classic science fiction adventure, and formshalf of one of Fox's new Double Feature DVD releases.

While Admiral Harriman Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) is performing test runsof a top secret new submarine, a freak meteor storm sets the Van AllenBelt on fire, causing massive destruction and ever increasingtemperatures around the globe. Nelson and his associate Commodore LuciusEmery (Peter Lorre), a leading world scientist, devise a plan to savethe earth by firing a nuclear missile from his new submarine, but he hasonly 16 days to reach his destination before the temperature becomesfatal for the whole planet. Despite disagreement from others in thescientific community, and unable to get presidential approval for hisplan, the admiral sets out on his mission, determined it is mankind'sonly hope for survival. Faced with opposition from his crew and acivilian psychologist (Joan Fontaine), the Admiral runs into a series ofobstacles, including a really fake looking squid, a giant octopus, minefields and a sabateur, as he attempts to pulloff his scheme and come out the hero.

Okay, perhaps this film is more fiction than science, and perhaps it hasa certain cheese factor as well. That's what makes it so great! Onecould point out flaws like just how spacious the sub is inside, or knockPeter Lorre "walking" a rubber shark. Maybe getting Frankie Avalon tosing the title song (and co-star in the film Lt. Danny Romano) or havingBarbara Eden chasing her fiancee (Captain Lee Crane—Robert Sterling)around the ship all the time is a bit much. But whatever thefromage factor, the film is entertaining in a Saturday morningkind of way, and it is fun to see what obstacles the fearless Admiralhas to overcome next. The special effects range from reasonable todownright awful, but the film has a quality that makes it worth thevisit. No gore, no language, and no real violence make it suitable forthe whole family.

Side Two: Fantastic Voyage

I can remember as plain as day watching Richard Fleischer's (20,000Leagues Under The Sea, Soylent Green) Fantastic Voyagefor the first time on Saturday afternoon TV. This tale ofminiaturisation (which was novelised by Isaac Asimov based partly on thescript) was a fascinating experience for a young man, and now some 25 ormore years later, the film still holds up as a science fiction classic.

The story opens with Grant (Stephen Boyd) delivering scientist Jan Benes(Jan De Val) to the army, who we later find out is the only person whoknows key information about the field of miniaturisation, a technologyboth the enemy and the allies have developed. This technology allowshuman beings and machinery to be scaled down to microscopic sizes, whichwould allow for the importing of entire armies into enemy territorywithout being discovered. The drawback to the process is that it is onlygood for one hour, after which, the minaturised objects return to fullsize. The scientist has discovered a workaround for this problem, but heis attacked before he can reveal the information, and suffers a terminalclot in his brain. The only way to save him, is to use the miniaturisingtechnology to send a medical team into his bloodstream to performsurgery from within his brain.

Of course, there are many dangers involved, the least of which is thefact that a sabateur may be in the medical team, comprised of Dr. Duval(Arthur Kennedy) and his assistant Cora Peterson (Racquel Welch),Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield), and coordinator Dr. Michaels(Donald Pleasance). For this reason Grant is added to the team assecurity officer. The crew boards the Proteus, a secret naval submarine,which is reduced in size and injected into the scientist's blood stream.Facing the human immune system and a series of obstacles andcircumstances never before seen by man, they travel through his body ona Fantastic Voyage.

The producers (including Saul David, Logan's Run) enlisted thehelp of medical specialists to help make the depiction of the humanvascular system and special effects as accurate as possible. Despite itsage, the film holds up very well and the special effects are well done(winning an Oscar® in 1967 for both Special Effects and Art Direction).I recall learning quite a bit about human anatomy and resperatoryfunction from my childhood viewing of the film, and it still iseducational today. There is a fair amount of sexism present which onewouldn't find in a modern script, however, without the excessiveviolence or language found in most of today's films, this one can beshared by young and old, and is a great addition to any classic sciencefiction collection.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Both of these features are presented in their original Cinemascope aspect ratios with new, near flawless anamorphic transfers. Although the colors used in the production will give away their age, both films are in near pristine condition with no print damage of which to speak. Colors are solid, rich and like new. The image on both films is ever so slightly soft, but aside from a few minor compression artifacts (which you really have to look for), they both look fantastic. Top marks here!

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Fox has done a terrific job on the audio for both features. The 2.0 mono track for Fantastic Voyage is full sounding and with no distortions or hiss (French 2.0 mono also available), as is the 4.0 soundtrack on Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (which also includes English Dolby Surround and French 2.0 mono tracks, which are not as effective but still very good). The only thing that is somewhat distracting is the directional dialogue in the 4.0 mix on Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, as the dialogue moves across the soundstage. However, this is how the film was supposed to be viewed, so it is great that it was transferred this way.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Fly (1956)/Return Of The Fly, The Fly (1986)/The Fly 2
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extras are trailers for the films on the three current Fox Double Features discs: The Fly (1956)/Return Of The Fly, The Fly (1986)/The Fly 2 and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea/Fantastic Voyage. I would have liked to see some production notes somewhere on the package or disc, but at the price point these are at, I can't really complain.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

While I've seen varying reaction to Fox's double bill DVDs, I feel that as long as the films are presented with pristine transfers and great sound that this is a great way to add to a DVD collection, especially at Fox's price point for the discs. The two films on this DVD are presented exceptionally well, and despite a lack of extras, I have no problem giving this a must buy recommendation for anyone interested in classic science fiction. These are a great value.


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