(Barry Levinson, USA, 1998)
A team of experts is brought together to investigate an unidentified object that has plummeted to Earth and now lies at the bottom of the sea. The experts argue, an alien presence is identified, and cutoff from the surface they quickly loose all semblance of professionalism and, surprise, surprise, get killed one by one.
Blah, blah, blah... how did such a desperately unoriginal (based upon a Michael Crichton novel) script manage to attract such an A-list cast as Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel Jackson? One can only assume that each must have had something very sinister in their past that distributor Warner Bros. knew about and they were desperate to keep quiet. It's difficult to believe that this is directed by the same guy who did Diner.
As it takes a magpie approach to constructing the screenplay, Sphere draws 'inspiration' mainly from Cameron's brilliant The Abyss and Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris. The latter in particular seems a strong influence with the crew quickly loosing the plot due to alien-induced hallucinations which they cannot distinguish from reality. A never ending series of totally pointless on-screen captions indicate what will happen for the following ten minutes for no tangible reason other than assuming the audience is too dumb to understand what's happening. In the end this is simultaneously pretentious, confused and dull. One choice moment has a character ask "What happens if the alien gets mad?", cue the next caption: "The Monster" - I kid you not. Z-movie trash that thinks it is the complete opposite. Avoid unless you're planning a bad film night. Even then don't expect to be entertained. 4/10
For similarly themed (but in all cases superior) films see also:
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