Sphere Review

by "Jerry Bosch" (gp14 AT usa DOT net)
February 15th, 1998


The thing to fear about SPHERE is not fear itself. Or to put it differently, if it is fear that you fear, never fear; SPHERE will not interfere.

Ouch. Not for the puns; for the movie. I can round up the review with one word: weak. Take a B plot, inflate it with a big budget, surround it with three of Hollywood's brightest stars and what have you done? You have come full circle, back to B. There's no getting around it, this sphere is on a downhill roll. What we are trying to say in a roundabout way is that both Crichton and Levinson dropped the ball. (Michael Crichton wrote the book and Barry Levinson directed.) This is a sphere that won't get a Golden Globe. A lead balloon…maybe.

It is difficult to say what is wrong with this movie without going deep into the plot. And deep is where the plot takes you, into the ocean. It also tries to take you deep into the mysteries of the mind, but alas, the mind is an empty sphere. It seems that an American space mission from far into the future had retrieved a spherical object from outer space, and traveling in time missed its target and landed 300 years behind our present, crashing to the bottom of the sea. That spoils some minor surprises but will give you a helpful handle on the proceedings. Watching this movie I learned the difference between puzzlement and suspense. I was bewildered by the strange goings on, so much so that I could hardly yawn. (I also caught a wink or so, but that is not necessarily a reflection on the movie. I've been known to do that in some of the best.)

On the positive side, Dustin Hoffman's mature professionalism is always a pleasure to watch and Sharon Stone delivers a meticulously crafted performance. The scene of her emotional confrontation with Hoffman is outstanding. Hoffman fights hard for this scene, but he loses by a nose. Samuel L. Jackson was so bored with the whole affair that he slept through most of the action. When he was not really asleep, he was sleep-walking. What a waste.

SPHERE is not a terrible movie, it is OK. If it were offered as a B movie we would forgive, enjoy and forget. But given the budget, the cast, the promotion and the promise, forgiving is impossible, enjoying is questionable and forgetting is inevitable. For better entertainment than SPHERE you may want to turn an ear to the President's affairs or Monica Welinski's coiffure; or go out and have a beer. Double ouch. 2 ¼ stars out of 5.

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