Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Meg Ryan, Kevin McCarthy
Chip Proser, Jeffrey Boam
An Adventure of Incredible Proportions
A hapless store clerk must foil criminals to save the life of the man who, miniaturized in a secret experiment, was accidentally injected into him.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital Stereo
Castillian Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo
Portuguese Dolby Digital Monaural
Thai Dolby Digital Stereo
Runtime: 120 min.
Release Date: 8/4/2015
• Audio Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Producer Michael Finnell, Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, and Actors Kevin McCarthy and Robert Picardo
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Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Innerspace [Blu-Ray] (1987)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 30, 2015):
Occasionally films investigate their characters from the inside. Probably the most famous film in this genre is 1966’s Fantastic Voyage, though it’s not alone. The Disney theme parks used to offer a ride called “Body Wars”, and it reminded me of Voyage since both included sexy female protagonists in tight clothes. Vintage Raquel Welch in a bodysuit or Elisabeth Shue in similar garb? That’s a win/win.
For regular theatrical release, we hadn’t seen a prominent film of this sort for quite a while until 2001’s partially animated Osmosis Jones. That flick stood out from the others since it didn’t feature a miniaturized human who entered a different body. Instead, its protagonists were various natural inhabitants of people - such as white blood cells and germs - and also a cold capsule. In that way, Jones more closely resembled another now-defunct Disney attraction called “Cranium Command” than it did Voyage or “Body Wars”. (Recent Disney hit Inside Out took a similar path.)
Off the top of my head, the only other film in this vein that I can recall is 1987’s Innerspace. Although it sadly omits a sexy female scientist in a clingy bodysuit, Innerspace otherwise follows the Voyage model. However, Innerspace diverges from that form in that it tries to combine comedy and adventure.
Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) seems to have left his best years as a test pilot behind him. While younger jocks take his place, he gets drunk a lot and generally embarrasses himself and his girlfriend Lydia (Meg Ryan), a newspaper reporter who dumps him at the start of the film.
Tuck takes a job as part of a daring miniaturization experiment. If it works, Tuck and the pod he’ll pilot will shrink down to microscopic size and enter the bloodstream of a test bunny. Tuck thinks this won’t succeed, but he seems happy to take the paycheck.
Of course, it does work, but matters quickly go awry. Represented by henchman Mr. Igoe (Vernon Wells), a nasty dude named Victor Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy) seeks the technology for his own ends. Head scientist Ozzie Wexler (John Hora) scrambles to keep tiny Tuck away from the baddies, and as a last resort, he injects Tuck into random passerby Jack Putter (Martin Short).
Hypochondriac Jack immediately fears that he’s lost his mental balance, but Tuck eventually convinces him of the reality of the situation. The two bond as Tuck tries to get out of Jack and also make sure the villains don’t gain control of the technology. Eventually a mercenary named the Cowboy (Robert Picardo) becomes involved, and Tuck makes Jack recruit Lydia for help, although they don’t reveal the facts of the matter.
Innerspace definitely attempts a combination of action and comedy, and it does reasonably well in both regards. However, I probably prefer the comedic bits, if just because I’ve always liked Short. An alumnus of the wonderful SCTV program, he helps make Jack’s idiosyncrasies come to life. Short takes some not-so-hot material and transforms it into something enjoyable. Other cast members land some comic moments as well, but most of the jocularity falls on Short’s shoulders, and it manages that burden nicely.
As for the action pieces, they also work pretty well, though the movie doesn’t seem able to reach its full potential. I suppose part of this stems from the dual focus. For most films of this genre, the adventure takes place inside the body, as the teeny folks fight off all sorts of natural occurrences.
However, Innerspace adds more of an emphasis on the outside world. Tuck doesn’t experience many direct threats inside Jack; instead, most of the action stems from the attempts of Scrimshaw and his associates to nab Jack and Tuck. These scenes usually work fine - Jack’s escape from the refrigerated truck seems especially good - but the split perspective means that the movie occasionally loses its focus.
Innerspace also takes too long to get going. After the filmmakers establish the various characters, we spend an awful lot of time in the lab as they run through different procedures. This quickly gets old and wears out its welcome. Those scenes could have been cut substantially and still worked, and this would have improved the pacing.
One minor oddity relates to the casting of Quaid. As noted in the disc’s audio commentary, the filmmakers originally planned to use an older actor to play Tuck. This makes sense, as Tuck’s supposed to be over-the-hill, which seems strange for a character played by the then-33-year-old Quaid. The actor pulls off the role with enough charm and life to make the point moot, but it does seem confusing.
Overall, however, I think Innerspace offers a reasonably enjoyable experience. I can’t call it a classic, as far too much of the film falls flat for it to seem all that strong. Nonetheless, it provides a decent piece of action comedy that works pretty well.
The Disc Grades: Picture B / Audio B+ / Bonus C+
Innerspace appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it reflected its era, the image seemed satisfactory.
Sharpness looked fine. Occasionally, I witnessed a smidgen of softness, mostly in that “hazy 80s film stock” way. Nonetheless, the movie usually appeared pretty accurate and concise. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I detected no specks or marks, and the image came with a good layer of grain, so I didn’t suspect any issues with digital noise reduction.
Colors came across well. The movie boasted a natural and lively palette, and the disc replicated these tones well. Even with the standard “80s murk”, the hues seemed pretty peppy. Black levels seemed deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but never overly opaque. Despite some of those age-related issues, this became a pleasing presentation.
I felt even happier with the film’s surprisingly dynamic DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Most of the audio remained located in the forward spectrum, which offered a nice sense of environment. Music displayed fine stereo imaging, and the effects added a good feeling of atmosphere.
During chase sequences, elements moved cleanly around the domain, and they blended together well. The shots of Tuck while inside Jack provided the best auditory moments, as they created an involving ambience from this unusual point of view. The surrounds didn’t play a huge role in the film, but they added more zing and involvement than I’d expect from a 1987 effort.
Audio quality seemed quite good. Speech came across as generally crisp and distinct, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music fared best, as Jerry Goldsmith’s score appeared bright and vivid. Highs were accurate and clear, and bass response sounded pretty rich.
Effects demonstrated very nice reproduction. These elements showed good range and impact, with crisp highs and deep lows. The audio held up awfully well over the last 28 years and became consistently satisfying.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the original 2002 DVD? Visuals looked cleaner and more precise, while audio sounded more involving and impactful. Both areas offered obvious improvements.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an audio commentary with director Joe Dante, producer Michael Finnell, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, and actors Kevin McCarthy and Robert Picardo. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific track, although Picardo doesn’t show up until the midway point, which is when his character enters the film. McCarthy also doesn’t appear in the first half or so of the movie, but he stays with the others the whole time anyway, even though he doesn’t say anything until his character comes on-screen.
Even then, McCarthy offers very little to the commentary. Dante dominates the piece, and Finnell also contributes a lot of information. Picardo adds the occasional humorous comment, and Muren provides a little bit more info about his work, but frankly, the track would work as well with just Dante and Finnell.
I don’t offer that remark as a complaint, for those men give us a lot of very good information. They cover the genesis of the project and talk about all manner of production details. They discuss the cast, the effects, story points, and various facets of the shoot. Although a few empty spaces occur, for the most part the chat remains lively and entertaining. Overall, I find this to provide a nicely chatty and compelling piece.
Innerspace offers one of those films that largely entertains but fails to make much of an impression. The movie provides acceptable levels of fun and adventure, but something about it seems less than spectacular. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio along with an informative commentary. Though never a great movie, Innerspace offers a decent diversion, and the Blu-ray reproduces it well.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of INNERSPACE