1998 / TV

SF elements: alien artefact discovered under the sea

[Dustin Hoffman]

Psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman [Dustin Hoffman] once wrote the definitive report on how to handle first contact. Now it might be happening, so his report is being followed to the letter, assembling the team he recommended. Trouble is, he faked it. So now an ill-equipped group of misfits are in a pressure dome at the bottom of the ocean, investigating an enormous strange craft that has been there for at least 300 years. Naturally, a cyclone occurs, stranding them for the duration, and naturally, things start to go wrong, people start to die.

[Stone, Hoffman]

The is actually not too bad -- certain of the more obvious cliches (apart from that cyclone) are avoided. People do act bizarrely, but mainly because they are under the influence of the eponymous Sphere. There are some genuinely funny bits. The claustrophobia, the weirdness, the paranoia, the book with 87 pages, are all handled well. But it all falls apart with the totally unnecessary Crichtonesque "there are some things Man is not meant to know" cop-out ending, which left me snarling at the screen.

Rating: 4

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 2 June 2001