Sphere (1998) / Sci Fi-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some startling images
Running Time: 134 min.

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber
Small role: Huey Lewis
Director: Barry Levinson
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer, Paul Attanasio, Stephen Hauser (based on the novel by Michael Crichton)

Review published October 13, 1998

The remains of a crashed spaceship, over three centuries old, is found on the ocean floor somewhere in the South Pacific, and a psychologist (Hoffman, Wag the Dog) and his crew of scientists are selected to investigate. On board the ship, they encounter a strange spherical object, and after one of them enters the sphere, strange and not too pleasant things begin happening to them.

A bizarre and ultimately disappointing misfire. This film is beginning to confirm my suspicions that Barry Levinson is an overrated director. Here he combines 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Abyss, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but could not pull off the one thing that all three of those good films had -- a sense of wonderment.

Director Barry Levinson (Jimmy Hollywood, Rain Man) reaches for unimagined heights, and wants to wow the viewer with awe, but falls flat on his face in quixotic fashion with a painfully obvious "villain" and underdeveloped script based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name.

Probably not as bad as its reputation, but I doubt even the lowest expectations will have you coming away thinking it was a pleasant surprise.

Qwipster's rating

1998 Vince Leo