Sphere (VHS, 1998)

22 ratings (22 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
5 stars
3
4 stars
7
3 stars
7
2 stars
3
1 star
2
Share This!
  Ask friends for feedback

A Psychological Thriller Under the Sea

May 3, 2009 (Updated May 4, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:excellent acting, intense drama, beautiful cinematography, strong characters, Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson

Cons:wild and twisty plot

The Bottom Line: "Sphere" is an intense experience you won't forget.


There's nothing wrong with a good genre film, but I think all movie watchers should watch a movie that stretches the boundaries of genre every now and then for the sake of their sanity.  "Sphere" is just such a film.  I tend to mentally categorize the movies I watch within a few minutes of the opening credits -- most of the time, I can lump them with other similar movies I've watched before that explored similar themes.  With "Sphere", though, I just couldn't do that.  I tried, of course.  Since the start of the movie covers the assembly of a team of scientists to investigate something unusual underwater, I thought it must be a monster flick at first; although a giant squid, unusual jellyfish, and venomous sea snakes do make appearances in the film, this isn't really a creature feature because it isn't truly about a struggle between man and thing.  Since the scientists are sent to investigate a futuristic space ship that appeared to have been underwater for centuries, I next categorized "Sphere" as a movie about time traveling.  Again, I was wrong -- although time travel is important to the backstory, it isn't explored to any great depth in the plot.  My next guess was that it must be a movie about intelligent aliens because there appeared to be something alive on the ship capable of contacting the team of scientists.  That guess worked for a bit, but it, too, proved to be wrong.  My inner reviewer had met its match: a movie that defied a quick classification! 

Although the plot of "Sphere" does involve sea monsters, time traveling, and aliens, it ultimately isn't really about any of those things.  Instead, it's about the human mind put under intense pressure and forced to adapt to highly unusual circumstances.  The focus is less on what the team of scientists happens to discover and more on the impact the discoveries have on the scientists themselves.  Additionally, the movie has an important point to make regarding the limitations of human beings; you may not agree with its ultimate conclusion, but it forcefully makes the case that there are certain powers we cannot handle without destroying ourselves and certain doors we should not open for our own good.  Seen in that light, "Sphere" is quite an impressive movie.  Considered purely as a science fiction film, it doesn't deliver -- the plot is too full of holes and too lacking in detail to seem truly realistic.  Those willing to suspend their disbelief when it comes to the more fantastic elements of this twisty plot will find a great deal more realism when it comes to the characterizations of the scientists.

A movie like this stakes everything on dramatic impact, but luckily for "Sphere" it has an excellent cast of dramatic actors.  The four central figures are the scientists: psychologist Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), biochemist Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), mathematician Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson), and astrophysicist Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber). Norman is the nominal civilian leader of the team, but all four have a tendency to act independently which can at times lead to disaster.  Hoffman's and Jackson's performances are particularly impressive.  Hoffman's Norman is hardly a heroic or a decisive leader -- he cannot act quickly even to save the life of a friend and, while all the members of the team are haunted by their fears, Norman appears dogged by guilt over his past.  Jackson's Harry is a strangely detached, sometimes humorous mathematical genius.  In contrast to Norman, he is very quick to act and the most unpredictable of the quartet.  The supporting cast includes some famous names -- Huey Lewis and Queen Latifah among them -- and also does a solid job. 

"Sphere" is a well-shot film with some beautiful underwater scenes.  The film is so intense because one always has an awareness that the story is taking place in an extremely dangerous environment, and the cinematography really brings out the menace and majesty of underwater life.  You never forget where this film is taking place.  I've seen so many films that have taken place largely underwater or in space where that sense of danger is curiously missing -- you totally lose the sense that the action is taking place in an environment hostile to human life.  In "Sphere", however, the harsh conditions are like another, ever-present cast member...you're always aware of them, and an aura of danger permeates virtually every scene. 

I would recommend "Sphere" to anyone interested in watching a genre-bending, thoughtful, and extremely intense film.  If you're a fan of any of the actors, I'd also recommend it because the performances are all good, and it's an absolute must-watch for Dustin Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson fans.
      


Recommend this product? Yes

Read all comments (1)

Share this product review with your friends   
Share This!


Related Deals You Might Like...

Phantasm Ii (1988) Vhs Video - Angus Scrimm, Tall Man Horror - 2

Phantasm Ii (1988) Vhs Video - Angus Scrimm, Tall Man Horror - 2

The mortician known as The Tall Man returns with his deadly spheres to recruit new members for his army of the undead.
eBay

$9.96

FREE Shipping
Phantasm Iv: Oblivion (1998) Vhs Video - Angus Scrimm, Tall Man, Horror

Phantasm Iv: Oblivion (1998) Vhs Video - Angus Scrimm, Tall Man, Horror

Picking up precisely where the last installment left off, PHANTASM IV: Oblivion finds Mike (Baldwin) traveling through time to escape his evil nemesis...
eBay

$14.98

FREE Shipping
Sphere

Sphere

Brand new, in-stock product. Ships fast and secure. ADD TO CART with confidence!
Sears
Preference sphere Contacts

Preference sphere Contacts

Preference lenses are made of a highly deposit resistant material and can be worn comfortably for long hours. Frequently replaced lenses provide bette...
Discount Contact Lenses

$64.76

+$6.95 shipping
Sphere

Sphere

Brand new, in-stock product. Ships fast and secure. ADD TO CART with confidence!
Sears
Sphere (Blu-ray) (Widescreen)

Sphere (Blu-ray) (Widescreen)

Excitement runs deep when U.S. officials find and isolate a huge spacecraft that plunged into the Pacific - 300 years earlier. What is the craft's ori...
Walmart.com

$8.49

+$4.97 shipping
Sphere (dvd, 1998)

Sphere (dvd, 1998)

When psychologist Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman) wrote a report for the government on how to deal with extraterrestrial life forces, he didn't expect...
eBay

$9.99

FREE Shipping
Sphere Statue

Sphere Statue

Description: Carefully stained to give the appearance of age. Lightweight, extremely durable, less fragile than concrete. Handmade and outdoor safe. M...
Sears
Sphere

Sphere

When psychologist Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman) wrote a report for the government on how to deal with extraterrestrial life forces, he didn't expect...
eBay

$7.50

+$4.69 shipping
VHS eBook

VHS eBook

Buy VHS by Joe Pickett, Nick Prueher and Read this Book on Kobo's Free Apps. Discover Kobo's Vast Collection of Ebooks Today - Over 3 Million Titles,...
Kobo eBooks

$11.19

FREE Shipping