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The Manhattan Project (Special Edition)

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Editorial Reviews

In this nail-biting thriller, Paul (CHRISTOPHER COLLET), a bright 16-year-old, discovers that his mother's boyfriend Dr. Mathewson (JOHN LITHGOW) is refining plutonium undercover, right in their neighborhood. Intent on exposing the secret weapons factory, Paul steals some plutonium with the help of his girlfriend (CYNTHIA NIXON) and constructs his own atomic bomb. By the time Dr. Mathewson discovers the plutonium is missing and informs the government, the device is built - but the timer inadvertently turns on, beginning a countdown to nuclear catastrophe. Suspenseful to the last few seconds, this intriguing, provocative story takes its name from the real Manhattan Project in the 1940s that brought about the development of the first nuclear weapon used in World War II.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Lithgow, Christopher Collet
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OY9V98
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,031 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

This is one of the most iconic movies in so far as making our atomic energy issues understandable at the most basic level.
When word gets out about the plutonium being stolen, the military is being called in to investigate, and Paul is really in for the nightmare ride of his life!
Nicholas Williams
As the movie progresses it just goes from dumb to dumber..... Sorry folks, but this movie was one I could not even stand to watch.
Roger Zelazny Fan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Mechanic on March 27, 2005
Format: DVD
I love this movie. I agree with several of the points made by other reviewers. One, there is a certain amount of suspending disbelief that one must do to enjoy it. Two, and absolutely on the mark, this is a character driven movie, not plot driven. Three, this isn't a movie to be deeply analyzed. It's an 80s movie with witty/sarcastic humor and a plot that works best if you like the main characters. 'War Games' is a better all around movie, but after repeated viewings, I like watching Christopher Collet more than Matthew Broderick (Plus, I can't stand looking at Ally Sheedy, IN ANYTHING!!!). To me, this is an afterschool special-type movie (remember those???). It's weird, but I always watch this movie as if I was 16 years old (which is about how old I was when it came out). I don't even have to try, it just happens. Though 'Real Genius' is funnier and 'War Games' plot and script better, 'The Mahattan Project' has its own special charms that make it worth buying the DVD and watching every few months (depending how many times you've already seen it, that is...)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alice on March 16, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
A decent plot matters - especially in a film like this where the last twenty minutes slowly drift into a string of humdrum sequences. And a decent plot is what this film is capable of - I salute the filmmaker for that. First off,we get Paul,a teen science whiz who puts on his thinking cap when his mother starts dating a man who works at a science research lab. But it ain't jealousy (though that would've made the film a bit more congenial). He wants to know the secret behind the plutonium experiments,which caught his eye the moment he stepped foot into the lab. While on a date with his girlfriend,played by the sultry Cynthia Nixon of 'Sex and the City',they discuss their plan on stealing the plutonium and immediately put their plan into action by going to the lab,despite the heavy rain outside. With a quick thinking mind that drugdes at the snap of your fingers,Paul carefully damages the monitor alarms,leading the security to believe that the havoc is caused by the lightning outside. Of course,the task is completed successfully. From then,Paul creates a bomb from the plutonium (displayed in a rather cartoonish manner,like something from an 80s TV sitcom),believing that it would turn heads at his school science fair. Soon the scientist (John Lithgow) discovers the missing plutonium,which was replaced by a bottle of glitter and shampoo,courtesy of Paul's creative streak. The scientist,appalled,starts a search party for Paul,who's now in New York attending the science fair. They eventually found him and grilled him and his girlfriend in a police station. Luckily,Paul and his girlfriend were soon rescued by their opponents at the fair (never mind the competition - the opponents are at large to win the affections of Paul's girlfriend Jenny,thereby the rescue).Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By casualsuede on August 6, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Why is it unlikely? If you are holding 99.99% pure Plutonium 239 that could make 70 kiloton Nuclear bombs at a time, would you have only one guard protecting it?
The movie has a lot of merits. John Lithgow is very three dimensional, as a hot-shot scientist that is looking for love. A derivative movie would have made him an egotistical nihilist with no redeeming features. But here he plays a person who you root for, even over the main protagonist at time.
The protagonist is Paul Stephens, played by David Collett. While very bright, he is not shown as a social leper or a total nerd. Cute girls are even attracted to him (portrayed by Cynthia Nixon of "Sex and the City" fame).
If you have a high notion of suspension of disbelief, then you can forgive the idea of a person learning to build a working Atom bomb from reading a few books. And that two kids could easily break into a highly classified research lab. And that scientists could mistake joy dishwater soap for Plutonium for so long.
However, I liked the prepubscent X-files type of conspiracy theme, especially at the Science Fair. Also, the last 20 minutes, where they have to defuse the bomb has surprising intelligence.
Even though this movie is dated (1980's fashion and looks...I can't see this phase making a comeback...And I was a teen through that era!) it is more intelligent and smarter than what Hollywood makes today. While not as good as my favorite smart teen movie (Real Genius), the Manhattan Project does a good job....Rating: B-
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Well, since no one out there in cyberspace has come across reviewing "The Manhattan Project", permit me the honor to be the first soul to do so! This flick is a physics freak's dream come true, even though it has a few implausibilities woven into the plot's fabric. Most notably is teen prodigy Paul Taylor's (Christopher Collet) handling of high-grade "hot" Plutonium 235 with hardly any protective gear. Also, one would think that the New York Penta hotel would have been impregnably guarded so as to prevent the boy from evading incarceration & interrogation. However, Paul and his girlfriend "easily" escape with the help of some pathetic science geeks (Please!) On a better note, John Lithgow delivers a superb performance as nuclear physicist Dr. John Matthewson who has instituted a energy research facility in Paul's town and must race against time to help retrieve the boy's demented invention before many lives could face a mushroom cloud wrath. Also notable is Jill Eikenberry as Paul's emotionally high-strung mother whose relationship with Matthewson gives Paul the keys necessary to commence his dangerously egocentric quest to build the better "atomic mousetrap" (only to have the military & the D.O.E. beat a path to his door). Now that I'm aware that director Marshall Brickman was a frequent collaborator with Woody Allen, the writing for "The Manhattan Project" parallels that of a typical Allen film. Namely, it uses a bland bunch of one-dimensional characters always trying to extemporaneously speak in hyperintelligent tongues in order to make dubious sense of Life's many situations (except Lithgow, thank God). The things I truly revere in this flick are all of the laboratory sets and the many hilariously serious anectodes/retorts delivered by Lithgow, Collet, and John Mahoney. All in all, a very entertaining action thriller.
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