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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Philadelphia Experiment
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124 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2002
Because this film lacked real star power, not many people have caught this as they should have. Even non sci-fi fans will enjoy this one. No need for me to reiterate the plot. The story is tightly crafted, well acted, and beautifully executed. Everything is explained nicely and nothing left to confuse the viewer. What is truly refreshing is the use of actual older actors playing the characters at later ages. No latex for a change!
Word of warning: If you order this used, be sure the version you are getting is produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment. It's wide-screen and contains the trailer as an additional feature. There is another version out there which is advertised as containing no features. This one is put out by an independent distributor, is Pan & Scan, the picture quality is dark, very grainy, and sound poor.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2002
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT is a pretty good, solid piece of B-Movie sci fi. Loosely based on actual events during World War II, the U.S. government tests a naval battleship to see if it can disappear from radar by using high powered electromagentic energy. The writers, producer (John Carpenter i.e. HALLOWEEN), and director, have used these events to create an entertaining time travel story in which during the experiment, two of the crewmen are transported through time to 1984 and must find their way back. At the same time, the experiment in 1943 is affecting a similar experiment in 1984 Nevada conducted by the same scientist, Dr. James Longstreet, (Eric Christams as the elder Dr. Longstreet in 1984 Nevada, and Miles McNamara as the young Dr. Longstreet in 1943 Philadelphia) creating a vortex and distruption in the space/time continuim. There are characters you care about, decent if not conventional time travel plot devices, just the right amount of special effects, the usual government personnel chasing the innocent time travel victim(s), and a love story thrown in for good measure. Michael Pare shows some pretty good emotional depth as David Herdeg, one of the crewmen sent into the future and he and Nancy Allen as Allison Hayes have pretty good onscreen chemistry. Bobby Di Cicco has a great supporting role as the other crewmen sent along with Micheal Pare. He practically reprises a role he played in the Steven Speilberg WWII comedy film "1941" as he uses the dancing skills he learned during the filming of that movie and uses it in the opening scenes of 'EXPERIMENT (Perhaps it was an in-joke?). Overall, an entertaining sci fi, time travel film that delivers.
Movie should be noteworthy because released the same year he produced this movie, John Carpenter wrote and directed STARMAN with almost the same kind of pathos and romance/road trip film. Instead of a a man far from his time period (PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT), we have an extraterrestial far from home (STARMAN).
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85 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2004
I am a 29 year old man who remebered this movie fondly from my childhood. So i pointed, clicked and oredered it up. I was horrified the instant the menu came up on screen and the option to start the movie was spelled wrong, it read "STRAT MOVIE". This should give you some idea as to the level of care and attention that went into the production of this inferior product.
The picture quality was unforgivable. Usually a bad transfer doesnt bother me that much as long as I can see whats going on, but this movie transfer is pathetic. I am not kidding when I say that you are better off ordering a clean VHS copy than wasting your time and money on this DVD. It was absolutely unwatchable on my widescreen TV, I eventually had to put it in my computer to watch it as the "pixelization" was so bad ... consider youself warned.....
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 1999
The Philadelphia experiment is a classic in the Sci-Fi genre. What makes this movie really interesting though, is not the action, plot, or special effects. It is the fact that this movie is based on an actual military experiment. During an experiment to make a ship invisible to radar, the ship did just that, but it also became invisible to the naked eye as well. This may or may not be true, but it does make the story more interesting when this is considered. Even without it, it is a thought provoking story, with good visual effects.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2007
I've always liked the two lead actors in this film, Michael Pare of "Eddie and the Cruisers" and "Streets of Fire", and Nancy Allen (wife of Brian DePalma) of DePalma films "Carrie", "Blow out", and "Dressed to Kill." Neither actor ever made it really big and were more flashes in the pan than anything else, but they both should have more success as they are decent actors. Allen had played rather slutty characters with conviction for much of her career, but here she is disarmingly sweet and innocent in spite of her 80's hairdo. Pare built a short-lived career playing James Dean-like roles. He's mostly tough, but can be sensitive too. The scenes where he learns of his father's passing and when he must say good-bye to both his best friend and Allen are quite touching. He's a tough guy who isn't afraid to cry on-screen. He was refreshing as an actor and his full range of talents were not nearly tapped enough.

The story has been explained to death already here in other reviews and Amazon's synopsis, so I'll suffice to say that the script is faulty at times, but the story is satisfying enough and based upon an ill-conceived military experiment to cloak our ships that supposedly was really done and had back-fired. The special effects are very dated in this film, but they are watchable nevertheless. In fact, the entire film is rather dated, but still enjoyable.

Weaknesses: The film is rather dated and the effects clearly demonstrate that. The time-travel storyline has some flaws in it. Things don't always add up right. It's annoying at times when people who knew Pare's character in 1943 don't recognize him in 1984 although he hasn't changed in 40 years. I might be shocked that he hadn't aged, but I would certainly recognize him nevertheless. How come Pare's and his friend, who are naval men, do not have miliatry haircuts. Pare looks the same as he did in "Eddie and the Cruisers." One final flaw worth mentioning is how Pare's character, a civilian in 1984, can take two hostages at gunpoint into a highly restricted secret naval base with little to no opposition. It's just too implausible. Why not just have him be caught instead of the elaborate and silly break-in to a place the government wanted him at in the first place?

Strengths: Overall, the film still holds up and is fun entertainment as long as you don't question things too much. The actors are very engaging to watch and the plot, in spite of its flaws, is clever at times. There are a few needed and carefully written sensitive scenes that assist us in really feeling for these characters. It's fun watching Pare's character adjust to "future" things we take for granted like automatic transmissions in cars, flip-top soda cans, talking digital alarm clocks, color TV, and Ronald Reagan being president.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 1999
The Philedelphia Experiment has been overlooked for a long time. I don't remember when I first saw this movie, but I remember really liking it. I was about 7.
Later in my life, I was perusing my local Blockbuster, and I spotted a copy. So I rented it.
Michael Pare is good as always. For a movie of its obviously limited budget, the effects are really good. Nancy Allen is good, heck, all the acting is good. The music is rousing, and the plot is interesting. It really needs a Widescreen release from Anchore Bay Entertainment.
My advice, get this movie. Its really good. And the sequel isn't half bad either.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2004
Like another reviewer said, no subtitles on the DVD but the film is preserved in near-pristine condition. It was remarkable how crisp the images were. The DVD has trailer, scene selection, audio options and that's about it.

The special effects were very 1980's so you have to overlook that when watching the film. There's a great sequence where Manfred Mann's "The Runner" is used for background music. And a slight continuity error when the Porsche following (and eventually passing) our heroes disappears from the rear window. And I have to wonder, since our hero is so important to the military's time travel experiment, why are they shooting at him? (duh!). Oh well, makes for a little more exciting chase sequences. And then there's that whole time-space continuum thing, what with the events as they play out. Oops, better to not think about that stuff! LOL

One of the (1984) scientists shows up in another time-warp movie, "Groundhog Day." See if you can spot him. Also, one of the main doctors is the U.S. submarine captain from "Firefox." And there's a guy on the hospital elevator that later shows up as a bus passenger in "Speed." Nancy Allen gets the Good Samaritan Award for helping out some guys who steal her car, kidnap her, then her car gets wrecked. But then, how often does a girl get to date a guy that came across 41 years of time?

Michael Pare was definitely a good choice for the film; he plays the perplexed sailor pretty well. This would be a good double-feature for the time period with Jeff Bridge's "Starman."
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"The Philadelphia Experiment" is supposedly the about an experiment the U.S. Navy conducted in 1943 to make the U.S.S. "Eldridge" invisible to radar. However, the experiment goes (surprise) horribly wrong and the ship is contaminated with a deadly dose of radiation. Two of the sailors, David Herdeg (Michael Pare) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), jump overboard as their crewmates are catching on fire and getting trapped in bulkheads and end up traveling through a rift in time to 1984 (i.e., the present in terms of that being the year this movie was made). One of them gets sent back but the other does not and not only are the authorities after him but it seems that pesky hole in time is wrecking havoc with the climate (not as bad as "The Day After Tomorrow," but serious enough).

This is a fun little B-movie that most science fiction fans can enjoy as long as they do not take it too seriously. The reason it is considered to be based on a "true" story is that it is based on a 1979 "non-fiction" book that claimed the Navy was fooling around with Einstein's Unified Field Theory and sent the "Eldridge" from Philadelphia to the harbor in Norfolk, Virginia, and then back again. The story is based on some dubious evidence and apparently since the U.S.S. "Eldridge" never ever docked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard the title appears to be suspect as well. The Navy has offered an official explanation that what happened was a routine degaussing of the ship, which meant it was surrounded with electrical cables to negate the magnetic field (the idea is that it would render the ship invisible to radar but not to human eyes). Of course to some people this explanation just screams cover up.

Ultimately this film is not concerned with the "science" of the so-called experiment because that is all just an excuse for a more traditional time travel story and within that genre there are few interesting things going on here. There are some fun moments as Herdeg encounters the brave new world (Orwell's "1984" did not come out until 1948, so he does not know that the future is brighter than people had thought in the 1940s). Herdeg hooks up with an airhead, Allison Hayes (Nancy Allen), who eventually comes to believe that he is not lying about when he is from and tries to help him get back home. It is just as well because there is really no chemistry between these two. After "Eddie & the Cruisers" and "Streets of Fire" we all thought Par' was going to have a career, but this film seems to have derailed it. Come to think of it the same can be said for Allen, outside of the "Robocop" movies.

The special effects are rather simplistic, but quite effective for the time. They were certainly good enough to lure more than a few people into seeing this film from director Stewart Raffill ("The Ice Pirates," "Mac and Me"). Plus you have the standard lesson than there are some things scientists should not be messing around with otherwise a wormhole will destroy the world as we know it, which was not really an omnipresent science fiction plot line at that point (CGI made destroying the planet much more fun). There is a 1993 sequel to this film, but try to forget about it because it belongs on everyone's short list of worst science fiction sequels ever. This one at least gives you some things to think about, not all of which are about how to poke holes in the story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2005
MIchael Pare was the star of this sci fi prequel, even though he had made only one movie previously. My son Jeff asked who I thought was handsome, and I replied "the actor in 'The Philadelphis Story.' Justin corrected me, "It's 'The Philadelphia Experiment' you watch all the time. Cary Grant was handsome, but Pare reminded me of the football player at Central High I had a big crush on, Jim Darling. So, to feel young again, I would watch this flick on cable t.v.

He played a sailor with a sidekick who were on a naval vessel out in the Philadelphia harbor which was used in an experiment to make it 'invisible' by radar. It not only knocked the ship off the radar, it vanished back in time. Michael and his sidekick were transported forward in time to the desert in California where they found things weird to say the least.

They were rescued by Nancy Allen, who went on to make other such movies, and reunited with the old people who were young when the experiment 'failed.' They had no aged one iota.

It was a bit before the time for such ideas to catch on. It wasn't the idea behind the story, but the actor who carried this futuristic movie. He was good, and made other features, then fell by the wayside after playing Sandra Bullock's ex-husband in 'Hope Floats.'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2006
Stories of traveling through time are always fun, and should be just that since the physics and potential long-term repurcussions of time travel and causing changes to past events do not appear feasible given present knowledge. So, throw away the analytical side of your mind and just enjoy the story of a Naval experiment at the height of World War Two gone awry, and how that experiment repeated in modern times connect with disasterous consequences. The film is supposedly based on an actual event, which has been shrouded by some degree of secrecy and conjecture, but did not involve time travel. However, the thread of reality helps with the "what if?" atmosphere the movie portrays. Among the highlights are a terrific performance by Michael Pare and Nancy Allen, as well as kudos to the casting director for finding actors to portray characters "then" and "now" who are very believable in their roles. Despite a prerequisite car chase, explosions, and other cliches from movies released during the 1980s, there is a good story here, making this a film well worth your while (the sequel was awful and should only be used as "Mystery Science Theater" fodder). This DVD offers a very clean version of the film, with the only suggestion for improvement being a short feature on the contraversy surrounding the actual "Phildelphia Experiment" and whether the U.S.S. Eldridge was actually transported briefly from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia as has been reported.
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