26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A SyFy Television Remake That Works Best When Not Compared Against The Original,
This review is from: The Philadelphia Experiment (DVD)
4 Stars on the SyFy Movie Scale
2 Stars as a so-called remake
The 2012 SyFy Channel Original movie "The Philadelphia Experiment" has one major factor working against it. It is called "The Philadelphia Experiment" to associate it with the popular 1984 feature film of the same name. People expecting a modern version of the older film will likely be unsatisfied with this interpretation. Why? In regards to story, the movies are quite different. They are linked through the title and the principle themes only (although Michael Pare, star of the original, pops in for a brief role). Furthermore, this is a television production that lacks the big budget finesse and effects that might be associated with a feature film. That's the negative. And most of the backlash and vitriol I've heard about this film stems from these two components. However, if you frequently watch SyFy fare, I'd like to defend this production as one of their more sophisticated efforts. It still might not be a terrific movie by conventional standards. But compared to other films on the network, it is much better than you might expect. If they had released it with an alternate title, I think it might have been received far more favorably.
In case you don't know, The Philadelphia Experiment refers to an actual WWII project. In the simplest terms, the theory was that you could affect a ship at its molecular level using radiation and gravity to make it invisible. I'm no scientist, however, so please don't berate me for this rather simplistic explanation. It is rumored that a real battleship met with disastrous results under this program and it has subsequently been covered up by governmental agencies. This is the jumping off point for both movies, which then also incorporate an element of time travel to explain the disappearance. In this SyFy presentation, a brainy scientist (Ryan Robbins) is working with this technology from the forties under the watchful eyes of a sinister appearing Gina Holden. He makes a car disappear, but this starts a chain of events that leads to the reappearance of a missing WWII warship with one person left alive (Nicholas Lea).
The rest of the movie plays out as a race against time. Lea poses a threat, in several major ways, and instantly goes on the lam. He connects with his granddaughter (Emilie Ullerup), evades a crazed Michael Pare, and enlists the help of a wacky scientist (Malcolm McDowell) to help work out a strategy that won't rip apart the continuum of time and space itself. Of course, the more they try to explain things, the less they make sense. You didn't expect a lesson in real science, did you? But for what it is, the pace is brisk and the actors are committed. Lea is a veteran in these kinds of pictures and has the necessary gravitas to hold it all together. The supporting cast is appealing, and the effects are decent to good for SyFy. If you have modest expectations, this is a suitably engaging (if occasionally silly) entertainment. But for my taste, it all kind of works because the cast is wholeheartedly invested in the lunacy. As I said, this won't replace the original in your heart. But for SyFy, it is way above average as a stand-alone movie. KGHarris, 5/13.