Thursday, May 24, 2012
MICRO: MICHAEL CRICHTON and RICHARD PRESTON
NOTE: On occasion Great Old Movies will review books and novels that are in some way related to film, or have the potential to be turned into an interesting motion picture.
Two men break into a scientific lab and are attacked by some things that are small and invisible. A man finds a very, very tiny plane with a cockpit. Peter Jansen goes to Oahu with several others to talk with Vin Drake, head of Nanigen MicroTechnologies, about the possibility of working there. Before he leaves he gets a warning to "Stay Away!" from his brother, Eric, who also works for the firm; arriving in Hawaii he discovers his brother has been murdered. Confronting Vin Drake and his brother's girlfriend about what happened, the others all learn that they were involved with Eric's death. Before you know it Peter and his friends are locked in a chamber and undergo bombardment from a magnetic force that -- you guessed it -- shrinks them to half inch size. [Shades of Dr. Cyclops!] They are dumped in the jungle and have a harrowing time just trying to survive amidst the local insect life yet alone make their way back to Nanigen and normal size; if they don't manage to do it in about two days they'll die of the equivalent of the bends. The late Michael Crichton [the book was finished by Richard Preston] was not the first to write of shrunken humans. Henry Kuttner wrote the story "Dr. Cyclops" for Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1940 [it was filmed that same year]; and of course there was Richard Matheson's "The Shrinking Man" [The Incredible Shrinking Man], Attack of the Puppet People, Fantastic Voyage, and the novel "Cold War in as Country Garden." H. G. Wells was the first writer to fool around with people's size, but he made them bigger, not smaller, in "The Food of the Gods" -- probably the first popular treatment of gigantism. Crichton and Preston are not on the level of the wonderful Wells, but Micro is a fast-paced, entertaining, often scary and exciting novel that would certainly be a good bet for filming.
Verdict: A microscopic journey you may wish to undertake, but only in your nightmares. ***.