Sphere (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sphere (1998)



Critic Consensus: Sphere features an A-level cast working with B-grade material, with a story seen previously in superior science-fiction films.

Movie Info

Barry Levinson directed this $100+ million adaptation of Michael Crichton's science fiction novel about the investigation of a half-mile-long spacecraft sitting on the South Pacific ocean floor. Government functionary Barnes (Peter Coyote) assembles a crack scientific team -- psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), who wrote a presidential report on alien contact; biochemist Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), once involved romantically with Goodman; mathematician Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson); and astrophysicist Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber). After descending a thousand feet, they set up housekeeping at their underwater Habitat base, suit up, and enter the craft, finding evidence that it's a U.S. ship from the future. However, the craft's cargo of a shimmering, golden sphere is definitely alien. After Harry contrives to enter the sphere, Norman notes his odd behavior. When the Habitat computer system receives an email message from the sphere ("I am happy"), it's not long before the messages from this entity take a threatening turn ("I will kill you all"), triggering fears to surface along with violent attacks to the Habitat. The film is divided into chapters, such as "The Ride Down," "The First Exchange," and "The Monster." Shot on soundstages at the abandoned Mare Island Naval Shipyard (Vallejo, California), the effects combine animation, miniatures, prosthetics, animatronics, and digital images. Ed Asner reads the Sphere audiobook.more
Rating: PG-13 (violence, language)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Paul Attanasio, Stephen Hauser, Kurt Wimmer, Stephen Hauser
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 14, 1998
Warner Home Video


Dustin Hoffman
as Dr. Norman Goodman
Sharon Stone
as Beth Halperin
Samuel L. Jackson
as Harry Adams
Liev Schreiber
as Ted Fielding
Queen Latifah
as Fletcher
Marga Gomez
as Jane Edmunds
Huey Lewis
as Helicopter Pilot
Michael Keys Hall
as Government Official
James Pickens Jr.
as OSSA Instructor
Michael Keyes Hall
as OSSA Official
Ralph Tabakin
as OSSA Official
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sphere

Critic Reviews for Sphere

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (15)

An empty shell.

Full Review… | August 5, 2008
Top Critic

Three major stars being involved, it all wraps up happily but implausibly.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The ending, though emotionally satisfying, collapses under scrutiny. This lack of payoff is a real flaw in a film pitched to a discriminating sci-fi mentality.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Given its situational premise -- outer space goes underwater -- Sphere is filled with visual potential, yet Levinson can't tap it. He's just a whole lot more comfortable trying to tame the human software than the technical hardware.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

As the umpteenth entrant in the We-Are-Not-Alone sweepstakes, Sphere feels awfully familiar because it is.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Somewhere out there, maybe there's a small cadre of film-goers who will appreciate Sphere's dubious charms, but I'm not among them.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Sphere


For a while in the 90s, it felt like there was a space horror film out every week. This one, based on a Michael Crichton novel takes the issue down into the sea, where a team of scientists tries to find out the secret between a crashed spaceship. Thankfully, the film cares about its characters and keeps their stupidity and the death list to an absolute minimum. Whether you like the film or not depends much on how people take the reveal and its consequences. Viewers expecting Event Horizon-like horror might be disappointed, people who think it's always much scarier when you can't see the enemy should get a kick out of this, though. It helps that the protagonists are actors who know how to deliver the goods. The result is exciting, claustrophobic and actually quite smart, even if not as spectacular as it might make you believe.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer


They seriously screwed up a great book.

Joe McCall
Joe McCall

Super Reviewer


I am really confused as to why "Sphere" has the reputation it has. Sure, it's narrative can get clunky but the film has some intriguing ideas. Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Liev Schreiber and Peter Coyote are all good here and the visuals and atmosphere are essentially claustrophobic and creepy. "Sphere" is no where near grade-A filmmaking but it's consistently interesting and gripping. If you are looking for science-fiction pulp of higher caliber you really can't go wrong with "Sphere"... or maybe you can judging from the critics...

Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

Sphere Quotes

– Submitted by Stephen D (3 years ago)

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