Sphere (Special Edition)
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When a spaceship is found 1000 feet below the Pacific Ocean it is carbon dated to be over 400 years old. A crack team of scientists are deployed to the site. They discover how to enter the sphere. Once they come out they hold strange powers of manifestation.
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 8-FEB-2005
Media Type: DVD
From yet another derivative science fiction novel by Michael Crichton comes this equally derivative and flaccid movie, in which three top Hollywood stars struggle to squeeze tension and excitement out of material that doesn't match their talents. You're supposed to find awe and mystery in Crichton's story about a team of scientists and scholars who discover a 300-year-old alien spacecraft deep on the ocean floor, but mostly you feel that this is all much ado about nothing. The exploration team consists of a psychologist (Dustin Hoffman), mathematician (Samuel L. Jackson), biochemist (Sharon Stone), and an astrophysicist (Liev Schreiber), and when they enter the alien ship they discover a mysterious sphere inside. What they don't know is that the sphere has the power to manipulate their thoughts and perceptions, and before long the scientists' undersea habitat is a veritable haunted house of frightening visions and creeping paranoia. Who can be trusted? What is the sphere's purpose, and why is it on the ocean floor? Sphere makes some attempt to answer these questions, but the film is a mess, and it leads to one of the most anticlimactic endings of any science fiction film ever made. There are moments of high intensity and psychological suspense, and the stellar cast works hard to boost the talky screenplay. But it's clear that this was a hurried production (Hoffman and director Barry Levinson made Wag the Dog during an extended production delay), and as a result Sphere looks and feels like a film that wasn't quite ready for the cameras. Though it's by no means a waste of time, it's undeniably disappointing. The special edition DVD includes audio commentary by Hoffman and Jackson and a behind-the-scenes featurette, Shaping the Sphere: The Art of the Special Effects Supervisor, exploring the alien ship's design and creation by special effects technicians. --Jeff Shannon
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SPOILER (Sort Of): What the Sphere is, is a sentinel positioned outside an inhabited star system, that acts as a filter to deny less advanced and mentally disciplined species access to the alien's star system or space. The premise is, that if you haven't a mind disciplined enough to absolutely control your thoughts, consciously and subconsciously, you're carrying too much biological baggage to be of interest to these aliens. You're simply too primitive and too dangerous.
What bugged me in this movie is how unwise the Barnes character (Peter Cyote) is. He is the mission commander, and he goes out of his way to incite discord and undo stress between the other members of his team. This is simply stupid, and it makes a bad situation far worse--and all unnecessarily. It's entirely possible to know a thing and still STFU about it. Duh?
Peter Cyote is an excellent actor, but the script for his character, while adding palpable tension to the story, is simply unlikely in my eyes. No highly trained and sane commander would do this.
Sphere is a good story typical of author Michael Crichton, and an annual watch for me.
Top international reviews
To my opinion this is a very good sci fi film which in the years to come should be classed as one of the classics of it's kind. The three main actors are once again giving a 'masterpiece' of acting.... The story itself is for my very tense and breath taking combining the dangers of the Abyss and the unknown of 'first encounters'.. the turn out is the best.... has our society evolved to the maturity required by each individual to be able to control ones thoughts? ( not saying much not to spoil the films best twist )
I remember it not being well received by critics. But what do they know?