Monday, April 27, 2015

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

I remember seeing this film when I was a kid and really being intrigued by it. I had a science book that used the same concept, following heroic adventures into the human body to see how it all worked. But this movie brought that whole concept to life and in such vivid color! I revisited the film in the mid-1990s and found it really slow to get started and kinda silly. But when I found out my wife had never seen it, I decided to give it another spin.

When a key soviet defector is ambushed, the attack causes a dangerous clot in the man’s brain. He falls into a coma. With vital security information locked away in the man’s mind, a super secret agency springs into action. They have perfected the science behind miniaturization, and with the proper tools (including state of the art submarine and a laser) they think they can destroy the clot from within.

But the process is still very experimental and anything can go wrong. On top of that, the miniaturization process only lasts for a limited time. If they don’t make it to the retrieval point, the will return to normal size within the man! While the special effects are the star of the show you also get Raquel Welch in a skintight jumpsuit and Donald Pleasence as a twitchy scientist who realizes he may be in over his head. Can the heroic scientists save the western world and survive the Fantastic Voyage?

Good Points:
  • Some amazing visual effects for its time
  • Once the voyage begins, the action moves along well
  • A fun and enjoyable concept

Bad Points:
  • Due to knowledge limitations of the time, some of the visuals are incorrect
  • Leonard Rosenman’s score may be so modern it is distracting
  • Takes a while to set up the premise

This is still a fun film. Yes the set up seems a bit long-winded now, but like Tron it was describing a new sci-fi concept for viewers of the time. The voyage itself is a blast, with some wonderful visual effects work from the miniaturization to the attack by the antibodies. There are a few holes in the plot and some over baked intrigue, but it adds to the fun. Well worth checking out (or revisiting) for an entertaining sci-fi adventure.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 4
Acting: 3
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Movie Music Musings – Mining for Goldsmith Part 2

In the previous installment of Mining for Goldsmith I explored film composer Jerry Goldsmith’s work for the television miniseries. This time I’m going to look at a genre that we don’t see too much of these days. But in the late 60s and early 70s the Western was still being made in Hollywood with some regularity. While Goldsmith missed the true heyday of the Western, he did manage to provide excellent scores for a few.

One thing he was great at was creating catchy main themes for this genre. Here are three of my favorites:

Rio Conchos (1964)

Bandolero! (1968)

Take a Hard Ride (1975)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Movie Music Musings – Mining for Goldsmith Part 1

So back in January in my Looking at 2014 post, I mentioned that I had not written nearly enough posts about film composer Jerry Goldsmith on my blog, and that I needed to rectify that. So I figured now would be a good time to post some short blogs about my favorite film composer.

I’ve already posted a pretty extensive list of Goldsmith’s greatest scores, or at least my favorites. But I figured it would be good to dive into some of his less known stuff. Goldsmith was incredibly versatile, and had the good fortune of being selected to score all kinds of films. He did feel a bit typecast in the late 80s and early 90s as an action film composer, thanks to his wonderful work on scores like Rambo and Total Recall. But the man was so good at scoring action I can’t blame directors for wanting his skills to help their films.

Goldsmith got his start in scoring for television. He scored for some classic television series like The Twilight Zone, Thriller and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But the 1970’s gave rise to the television event miniseries. Goldsmith found himself scoring several miniseries and some of his best work can be found on these large canvas opportunities.

Three of my favorites are:

The Red Pony from 1973

QB VII from 1974

This is sample of the wonderful rerecording of QB VII done in 2012 for Prometheus records. They do some amazing rerecordings of lost, forgotten and classic scores. 

Masada from 1981