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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 8/9/02



Fathom
1967 (2002) - 20th Century Fox

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Fathom Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/C/D

Specs and Features

99 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers (for Fathom, In Like Flint, Modesty Blaise and Our Man Flint), film-themed menu screens, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (2.0 stereo and mono), French and Spanish (2.0 mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

What would the 1960's have been without Raquel Welch? For the millions of boys who drooled over the poster of Raquel in a fur bikini from the movie One Million Years B.C., it certainly would have been a much sadder decade. Raquel was to this generation what Farrah Fawcett-Majors was to mine, a voluptuous sexpot whose enticing flesh could barely be contained by the variety of swimwear she squeezed herself into. And thankfully, Raquel's ample charms are on full display in Fathom.

Raquel plays Fathom Harvill, a skydiving dental assistant recruited by the head of H.A.D.E.S. (an agency just isn't an agency without an absurd acronym for a name). Her assignment: parachute into the Spanish villa of Peter Merriweather (Tony Franciosa), a defector believed to be in possession of an H-bomb detonator codenamed: Fire Dragon. Like any vacationing dental hygienist would, Fathom accepts the job. As it turns out, Merriweather doesn't have the Fire Dragon. He's hoping to get it himself from a cold-blooded (literally) Ukranian named Serapkin (Clive Revill).

It isn't long before Fathom is reassessing everyone and everything she's been told. I don't want to give away too much because a great deal of the enjoyment I got out of Fathom has to do with the fact that the movie turns into something I didn't expect. Don't get me wrong. Fathom is nobody's idea of a great movie. But the supporting cast, particularly Revill, all seem to be having a good time. There are some decently staged action sequences - not James Bond level, perhaps, but certainly bigger and better than anything in the Flint movies. As for Fathom herself, she isn't the sharpest tool in the shed and for a heroine she's awfully passive. But the character becomes surprisingly resourceful when necessary. Besides, Welch is certainly easy on the eyes and she's a darn sight better an actress than today's pneumatic pin-up queens like Pam Anderson.

Technically, this DVD is considerably inferior to other entries in Fox's spy series. While the picture is given the anamorphic treatment, the print used is awfully ragged. This becomes evident during the last fifteen minutes or so, with nearly constant scratches, washed-out colors and picture instability. Skin tones are horribly inconsistent throughout. There even seemed to be some frames missing from time to time. The transfer to video brings along some annoying edge enhancement as well. The audio is equally poor. Presented in your choice of either stereo or mono, both sound tinny and artificial, peaking out at levels that were literally painful to my ears. Neither of the audio tracks solved this problem, but I ended up preferring the mono track, simply because it made bad sound come out of fewer speakers. As for extras, if you've got either of the Flint movies on DVD, then you've already got the same four trailers that are slapped on to this disc.

Of the four movies in Fox's 60's spy series, Fathom was the one I was least interested in watching. Perhaps because of that, I ended up enjoying it considerably more than I expected. It's nothing to plan your life around and its presentation on DVD does nothing to enhance its reputation. But approached as the breezy, light confection it so obviously is, Fathom is surprisingly easy to take. At its best, it's a reminder to the makers of more recent female-powered romps like Tomb Raider to lighten up.

Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com




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