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with his successful books and movies , michael crichton is doing well .
with early successes with westworld ( 1973 ) and coma ( 1978 ) , and recent films such as jurassic park ( 1993 ) , his films have been entertaining .
however , he seems to taken a wrong turn somewhere with sphere .
this $100 million mess by good director barry levison ( disclosure ) is dull , long winded , and a huge disappointment .
considering the huge budget , the all star cast , and a story by crichton , sphere is majorly disappointing .
the film opens with norman goodman ( hoffman ) , a psychologist who thinks he is visiting an airplane crash to console the survivors .
however , when he arrives , he his told by supervisor barnes ( peter coyote ) that he is actually investigating an spacecraft .
along with goodman is mathematician harry adams ( jackson ) , biologist beth halperin ( stone ) and ted fielding ( liev schrieber . )
they investigate the spaceship , find a massive sphere inside , meet an alien intelligence called jerry , and basically weird crap happens .
unfortunately , something went wrong along the way with sphere .
the film starts off entertaining enough , but throughout this very long movie , it just gets sillier and sillier .
the film jaunts along from scene to scene , never fully explaining what is going on .
the actors and directing don't help , either .
hoffman is on autopilot ( and almost seems embarrassed ) throughout the movie , churning out dull lines , and probably wondering what the hell he is doing in this movie .
stone is useless , displaying no emotion , and fails to convince the audience that she has any feelings for hoffman .
the only person who seems to be having fun in this movie is jackson , who's funny as the mathematician who slowly goes crazy and entering the sphere .
but he's hardly in it , and by the end of the film he is just as dull as hoffman and stone .
the same goes for peter coyote , who hams it up as the officer , but is then killed off halfway through .
the director , barry levinson , who directed the better crichton adaptation disclosure ( 1994 ) messes up with the drama and the action .
the drama scenes are , quite frankly , boring , and the action scenes suffer from overkill , with levison throwing the camera all over the place ( much like the godawful speed 2 , 1997 )
the writing doesn't help much , either .
although crichton is great with plots , he's terrible with dialogue , and practically every line in sphere is a dud .
the speech is too simple , i was hoping it would be a bit more intelligent .
practically every line is just stating the obvious .
none of it is smart .
also , where the hell did the budget go ?
the sphere itself is impressive , and there's a few nice special effect shots , but where the $100 million went is anyone's guess .
there's a giant squid attack in the picture , but not once does the audience see the squid , even though the film has a massive budget .
i assume the picture was trying to build up tension by not showing the squid , and if handled correctly it probably would .
but the whole scene is done badly , and i was just hoping we could see the stupid squid .
finally , the film has no idea what genre to be .
levison can't handle his own plot .
it leaps from hokey sci-fi , to horror , and finally the shining/event horizon psychological thriller .
and , of course , the film is very much like the abyss ( 1988 ) , although in it's defense , crichton did write sphere before the abyss was released ( and is far superior to this rubbish . )
it's not all that bad though .
the plot is all right , there's a few jump scenes ( although nothing very scary ) and there's the occasionally interesting bit .
but overall , sphere is a big waste of some fine talent , a lot of money , and a potentially good movie .
not really worth seeing .
overall rating= review by david wilcock