The adventure of a lifetime occurs not in the outer reaches of space, but inside the human body. An elite team of medical and scientific specialists race to save a top government scientist who is suffering from a blood clot on the brain. Their mission: be reduced along with their submarine-like craft to microscopic size, enter the bloodstream of the ailing scientist, and journey to the brain to perform an emergency procedure. With only sixty minutes to complete their mission, the scientist find themselves fighting off an attack by white corpuscles, caught in a tornado-like storm in the lungs, and struggling to survive sabotage from one of their own.
2001: A Space Odyssey
took the world on a mind-bending trip to outer space, but Fantastic Voyage
is the original psychedelic inner-space adventure. When a brilliant scientist falls into a coma with an inoperable blood clot in the brain, a surgical team embarks on a top-secret journey to the center of the mind in a high-tech military submarine shrunk to microbial dimensions. Stephen Boyd stars as a colorless commander sent to keep an eye on things (though his eyes stay mostly on shapely medical assistant Raquel Welch), while Donald Pleasance is suitably twitchy as the claustrophobic medical consultant. The science is shaky at best, but the imaginative spectacle is marvelous: scuba-diving surgeons battle white blood cells, tap the lungs to replenish the oxygen supply, and shoot the aorta like daredevil surfers. The film took home a well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Director Richard Fleischer, who turned Disney's 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
into one of the most riveting submarine adventures of all time, creates a picture so taut with cold-war tensions and cloak-and-dagger secrecy that niggling scientific contradictions (such as, how do miniaturized humans breathe full-sized air molecules?) seem moot. --Sean Axmaker