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Festivale online magazine, March, 1998
Sphere movie review
Movie Poster, Sphere (Festivale film review)Sphere

1,000 feet beneath the surface the blackest holes are in the mind ...

Reading the book, I was struck by how well Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, ER)integrated his explanations within his stories. Sphere is set under water, deep in those regions which are only slowly being opened up to humans. He explains Ultra Long Frequency (I think) communication with great economy and clarity. Since the previous book I read contained a long, involved explanation of the same thing by Tom Clancy, I appreciated the way that Crichton's science does not interfere with the flow of the story, and Clancy's explanations do.

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In the film, there is no scientific explanations at all, although this is a classic UFO/future technology scenario, the science is just present, which means it can't really be used as an effective plot device. I highly recommend that you read the book. Yep, more than I can recommend the film.

Sphere the film has a high-profile cast, Sharon Stone, Dustin Hoffman, and Samuel L. Jackson as well as Peter Coyote. They drop down into a spherically shaped habitat to investigate a spaceship that has been under the ocean for hundreds of years. Their support team are female, which we are told in the novel, but not in the film, is the result of studies which show females are far more suited than males for confined quarters like submarines.

Once underwater with the character relationships established Sphere becomes a variation of The Tempest and Forbidden Planet monster from the id. (The id monster is heavily telegraphed, so this is not a spoiler). Everyone puts in professional performance, but there is no new ground broken here, we don't find any new insight into human nature, or into science and our future, so apart from passing the time this film has very little payback. If you don't watch a lot of Shakespeare or read/watch science fiction, then you may find this film offers something new, but otherwise, Shakespeare did it better, and first.

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See also: Wag the Dog (Hoffman), 187 (Jackson)
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Science Fiction Film, the interesting old stuff, by Terry Frost.

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Title: Sphere (1998)
Written by: Based on the book by Michael Crichton
Directed by: Barry Levinson
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The Players: Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 27-Mar-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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