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Review Sphere (1998): Full of promise but there is no reward at the end!

genre: science fiction, mystery, horror, thriller, drama

The first time I watched Sphere I think I liked it. Let's put it this way I couldn't find any negative throughts about it. However I couldn't quite remember what I did like. Now having viewed it again I know what I like but also what I disliked. So here goes.

Sphere starts out really well. It doesn't waste time to inject you in the mystery and keeps you guessing until a certain event occurs. It's then when bizarre things start to happen. Part of the mystery seems solved but it's here when events start to spin out of control and where the horror turns into a psychological thriller. I liked the attempt and for a while I was able to go with it until it became too ridiculous. What should have been a tense and thrilling affair becomes comedic and annoying. It's when you realize that Sphere has no intention to give you the answers to the questions raised. 

Now one could say that most of what happens is horrific because of the human element and not so much the unknown. I would have agreed had the humans actually been terrifying. Only at very rare moments I got that vibe. Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson and Sharon Stone don't even try to take the material serious. All of them act like they are in a comedic play or something. Not once do you fear for their lives. The only one who was doing his best is Peter Coyote. He gives the film the gravity it deserves. 

Normally I don't mind film makers borrowing elements from other films as long as they bring something fresh or unique to the mix. Sphere in many ways is very similar to The Abyss. Event Horizon and The Thing. Perhaps even The Alien atmosphere wise, at least the first thirty minutes or so. You would think that with all these elements in play you can't go wrong. Guess what! You can. So very wrong. The way the characters react to their predicaments often feels detached and emotionless. If I was supposed to root for these character or be emphatic they should have done a better job of making them likable. Maybe slightly at the end which is far too late.

Overall I think Sphere drops the ball significantly. Especially if you watch it today you will be disappointed. It never truly challenges you or your belief system. Such a waste of time so don't bother.

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