Sphere Review

by Matthew Brissette (mouche AT rodier DOT ca)
February 17th, 1998

If there is a lesson to be learned from Sphere , it's that sometimes less is...well , less is sometimes not a good idea for a potential blockbuster. Not that Sphere enters that esteemed category , oh no , far from it. Add to this the fact that , weeks in advance , i was preparing myself to be sorely disappointed by this flick. I am happy to report that all those weeks of mental preparation and intense meditating have paid off...these excercises have softened the blow i received upon learning that this movie is perhaps the biggest rip-off since i bought a Beta video all those years ago. (The horror , the horror...)

As with all Michael Crichton adaptation it is safer to stick with the novel , which just happens to be one of his best. Please god , tell me why Hollywood feels the need to rip open and tear out the heart of every good novel it plans on filming , i need to know. Why! WHY! Of course , i know that some scenes from certain novels are impossible to film , that some scenes need to be left on the cutting room floor because the movie might run too long. Ok , fine. But i get the feeling the editor went a little overboard with the scissors this time.

(Warning , minor spoilers ahead. But nothing you haven't already deduced from the trailers.)

A perfect example of the destruction left in the wake of the psycho editor (or the accountant who kept decreasing the budget) is what is supposed to be a thrilling giant squid attack. Well , at least it was thrilling in the book , there the monster from the deep kept ramming and squeezing the undersea habitat. Kool. Now , Hollywood knows giant squids. Hollywood as done giant squids. So how come we do not get to see the fucking squid!!! All the elements are there , the hull is buckling , glass is cracking , the power is dropping and things are bursting into flames and exploding...normal behavior during a giant squid attack.
But where is it?

A few years ago NBC did a mini series called The Beast which had a giant squid. If NBC can do a (semi) convincing squid why can't a major studio like Warner Brothers even show us one??? Oh sure , we see it's outline on the radars when it is coming but that is it. No tentacles , no great big menacing eyes...nothing. Not one sucker.

Except for any poor fool who paid to see this movie.

Later on , somebody asks if "you liked the giant squid"?
I'll leave my reaction to your fertile imaginations.

In fact , the entire set of special effects (or lack of ) leaves something to be desired. The Sphere itself is , for lack of a better term , liquid metal. Yawn...been there , done that. The submarines and the spacecraft are no better than your average Seaquest episode and except for one gorgeous explosion near the end , the effects are forgettable.

Ditto the cast , which is a shame since these are all actors i like. Dustin Hoffman makes grand gestures when he talks and squirms like a dying cockroach when a sea serpent climbs up his leg. Mind you , i'd be doing the same thing...but better. Sam de Man breezes through his role , i know he can be great so i'll forgive him for this performance...eventually. Sharon Stone is a bit better than usual ,take it as you wish.

My reaction to their performances is due to their lack of reactions. Person just died , pass the bagels. Giant squid attack (hehehe) causing two more deaths , heck , let's play cards. Yes i know that's not what they
do , but they might as well have.

Two final complaints.

The camerawork is so erratic i could not tell what was going on half the time. This is supposed to be exciting. I have to suppose that a headache is the price to be for being excited that much. And finally , the pacing. The movie keeps jumping from one scene to the next without any sort of "while he was busy trying to enter the Sphere we were cooking muffins". No sir , instead we get "say , i really wanna get in the Sphere BING! i'm there".

Rating: 1 and a half stars for Dustin Hoffman in a wet t-shirt (if you like that sort of thing you can add a star) and a less than convincing giant squid (ladies and gentlemen , the amazing invisible giant squid ).
Warning: Exciting scenes in this movie might cause coma.

More on 'Sphere'...

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