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Coma

137 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Before he created "ER" Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Twister) adapted and directed (his debut behind the camera) this chiller from Robin Cook's best-seller about a sinister medical conspiracy. Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas and Richard Widmark star as doctors caught in its web.

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Something is awry at Boston General Hospital. Dr. Wheeler's (Genevieve Bujold) friend Nancy goes in for a routine procedure, but never comes out of the anesthesia and slips into a coma. Wheeler learns that a tissue sample from the young woman went to the lab, then soon finds out that a high number of patients have become comatose recently. She digs a little deeper and finds a conspiracy mired in hospital politics, running afoul of the head of anesthesia, Dr. George (Rip Torn) and the head of surgery, Dr. Harris (Richard Widmark). Nobody believes the young MD, not even her boyfriend Dr. Bellows (Michael Douglas), but she soon uncovers a black-market trade in body parts, conducted offsite at the Jefferson Institute, a state-of-the-art coma-care facility. As a thriller, Coma certainly has its moments (the scene where a hit man is buried under a pile of frozen-stiff cadavers is an inspired touch), but it's not without its problems. Director Michael Crichton is an MD himself, and the film has a seamless, almost mechanical structure and plotline (taken from the Robin Cook novel). However, the movie's cold, detached feel works against it at times, making the suspense scenes oddly more effective but rendering the emotional content of the characters rather flat. Douglas in particular seems to not put much into his performance; Bujold, on the other hand, is strong and resourceful as the movie's protagonist. More telling, perhaps, is the way that the story shows its age in a time when medical ethics have changed and the phrase "organ harvesting" has made its way into our lexicon. --Jerry Renshaw

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Douglas, Rip Torn, Geneviève Bujold, Elizabeth Ashley, Richard Widmark
  • Directors: Michael Crichton
  • Writers: Michael Crichton, Robin Cook
  • Producers: Martin Erlichman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0790743671
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,780 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Coma" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By B.C. Scribe on November 14, 2002
Format: DVD
After his success with the 1973 sci-fi thriller "Westworld" director Michael Crichton followed up with 1978's "Coma". In the earlier film he dazzled us with a fantastic futuristic vacation resort that turns against it's patrons. Here Crichton depicts the medical care system as a treacherous terrain where some patients may fall victim to odious conspiracy's.
Most people quite naturally experience an overwhelming fear of being defenseless and vulnerable while at the mercy of a hospital staff when they are admitted for surgery. Crichton explores this tendency of ours to suffer anxiety and apprehension at this prospect without being exploitative. He carefully crafts a believable scenario and we soon become caught in the same tangled web as the lead character Dr. Susan Wheeler, played marvelously by Genevieve Bujold. Wheeler is a bright, strong willed, liberated woman who supports herself and can withstand a challenge from her current boyfriend Dr. Mark Bellows, well played by Michael Douglas. Crichton received both critical praise and public criticism for the movie's portrayal of such an emancipated heroine, a role which has fortunately become more standard in the years that have followed.
When Wheeler's friend Mary is admitted to the hospital for an abortion Mary expresses her fears to Wheeler who assures her it is a routine operation and that she shouldn't feel a need to worry. Something does go wrong with the operation however and Mary falls into a coma, shortly afterward she dies. This event doesn't seem possible to Wheeler and out of curiousity she reviews Mary's medical records and notices inconsistencies and inquires about them.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 29, 2002
Format: DVD
Writer/director Michael Crichton's second film was an adaption of Robin Cook's bestselling novel. Geneviene Bujold has the hero's role in this thriller. This was made prior to Michael Douglas becoming a break out star. There are a number of fine performances including a great turn by the always interesting Rip Torn.

The extras are slim; we get the trailer and both the widescreen and standard versions of the movie. No director's commentary or observations from the cast; no "making of" documentary (or promo fluff piece for that matter). Which is a pity as this fine thriller does deserve better but then that was SOP when DVD's started coming out.

You can't argue with the price nor with Crichton's direction. He really never got any better than this as a director (although there are a couple of films like The Great Train Robbery that hold up to this and Westworld). Crichton isn't a great film director (he's a better writer) but he gets the job done. Coma will keep you guessing.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Tripathi on February 25, 2004
Format: DVD
I discovered by chance that this 1978 thriller with Michael Douglas was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who was himself a qualified medical doctor, but this film would have one believe that he had no love lost for his original profession (as would "The Andromeda Strain".)
Coma despite being an "old" movie by many standards, is surprisingly fascinating on DVD. Crichton gets good performances from the whole cast, with Genevieve Bujold, in particular, reminding us of what a fine actress she can be. As a doctor suspicious of certain goings-on in her hospital but disbelieved by everyone around her, she shows courage and determination (without ever losing her femininity) which is welcome in a female lead. She finds herself forced to question her own sense of perspective, even her sanity, as she struggles to uncover the mystery of comatose patients that surround her.
There's one sizeable twist towards the latter half of the movie, but you generally know what's going to happen. The beauty of this movie is in the overall execution -- it's VERY well done.
Recommended rental. Especially for the medically inclined.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Claude Avary on February 17, 2004
Format: DVD
For a period in the 1970s, it looked as if Michael Crichton was on his way to becoming a film director instead of the author of popular science-thrillers that he is principally known as today. He had a hit with the robot science-fiction meets the Western flick with "Westworld" in 1973, and he followed it up with this medical thriller in 1978. Based on a book by another M.D.-turned-novelist, Robin Cook, "Coma" is an entertaining suspenser with some good performances and nice pacing, helped immensely by Crichton's expertise on the medical profession and the politics of working in a hospital.
Unfortunately, "Coma" is one of those films that's good enough to make you wish it could have been even better. You feel satisfied with the viewing experience, but feel that the movie could have pushed itself even farther and turned from a good film into a very good film. The potential is certainly there, with a fun conspiracy plotline (Why are supposedly healthy people at a Boston hospital falling into irreversible comas? What is the purpose of the freaky, mysterious Jefferson Institute to where the coma patients are being shipped?), its level of paranoia (no one believes heroine Genevieve Bujold's suspicions -- or perhaps everyone around her is in on it), and Crichton's perfectly realistic representation of medical jargon and the workings of a busy hospital (a prelude to his television creation, E.R.). Many of the performances are excellent as well, especially Michael Douglas as Bujold's ambitious doctor boyfriend, Richard Widmark as the chief surgeon, and Elizabeth Ashley as the nearly robotic and incredibly frightening head of the Jefferson Institute. Rip Torn also pops in for a brief but noticeable role as the gruff head of anesthesia.
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