Sphere (1998)

BARRY LEVINSON

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

USA, 1998.  Warner Bros., Baltimore Pictures, Constant c Productions, Punch Productions.  Screenplay by , adaptation by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Disappointing adaptation of Michael Crichton’s (much better) novel about the discovery of a spaceship on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Psychiatrist Dustin Hoffman, math geniuses Samuel L. Jackson and  and marine biologist Sharon Stone are all called in by army chief  to explore the phenomenon of the possibly alien shipwreck only to discover answers much closer to home than they could have realized. Director Barry Levinson tries to give the story the dynamics that he usually gives to his excellent dramas, but Crichton’s characters and their endless theorizing which is so compelling on the page comes off as rather flat on the silver screen. Still, the film features a gorgeous score by the phenomenally talented Elliot Goldenthal, beautiful visual effects, and a few moments of wonder (you really do feel like you’re walking around at the bottom of the ocean). Stone is especially invigorating in her role (a much better one than what is written in the book), but Hoffman is an old codger in his: whoever thought to make him an action hero obviously saw too much in Outbreak.

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