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Sphere (1998)

tomatometer

12

Average Rating: 4/10
Reviews Counted: 50
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 44

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

7

Average Rating: 3.5/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 13

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

audience

39

liked it
Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 57,910

My Rating

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.

Jul 14, 1998

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (56) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (44) | DVD (15)

An empty shell.

August 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The only excellence is in the acting, and even then the screenplay puts the characters through so many U-turns that dramatic momentum is impossible.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The central idea for Sphere is an intriguing one, but similar concepts have been much better executed on episodes of Star Trek, which makes one wonder why movie writing is allowed to be so bad.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Word 'pointless' is the one that should be attributed to this whole film, one of the worst to come from Hollywood in past decade and one that would test patience and temper of the audience like few others.

February 2, 2004 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Let's face facts: Michael Crichton is a hack. He comes up with innovative concepts, but his characters are cardboard cutouts. Given the psychological foundations of the story, that's an egregious flaw, and the ending is absurdly dissatisfying.

August 12, 2003 | Comment (1)
AboutFilm.com

If you want a better sci-fi film go see Dark City. A better Levinson movie? Try Wag the Dog.

May 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Blather
Film Blather

Packaged as a smart psychological drama, it gradually dissolves into a badly edited action thriller, albeit one obscured by a cast of top notch talent.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

For a movie of a novel written by Michael Crichton with such a capable cast, Sphere is quite a disappointment.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Sphere yearns to be a philosophical epic but it's final and only edict is so rudimentary as to barely exist: man is not yet 'ready' either intellectually or emotionally for the gifts E.T.'s are willing to share with us.

January 2, 2003 Full Review
Critics Inc./America Online

You can't accuse the makers of Sphere of skimping on talent. If only they knew what to do with it.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Sphere is not trashy, or silly, or exploitative; a lot of talent has been used to good effect here. But in the final analysis, fine filmmaking cannot overcome mediocre material.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

A sci-fi thriller that presents a riveting and rounded anatomy of fear.

March 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

We snuck guiltily into the almost-empty theatre, already prepared to hate it. But we were ill prepared, all the same...We have nothing to sphere but Sphere itself.

June 14, 2001 Full Review

I found the film interesting and somewhat engrossing, but the characters weren't developed enough to make it a better than average film.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The sphere is luminous and hauntingly beautiful on the surface, with its interior kept alluringly, frustratingly unclear -- much like the superficially diverting but ultimately disappointing film itself.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Most science fiction spectaculars these days have second-tier actors and first-tier special effects. Levinson tries second-tier effects, and first-tier actors, but never makes that exchange pay off for the viewer.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Sphere tries hard to be an intelligent genre piece, but a weak and convoluted storyline only leads to a disappointing experience.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

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.
April 11, 2013
ironclad1609

Super Reviewer

They seriously screwed up a great book.
November 4, 2011
Joe McCall

Super Reviewer

Why does everyone bash this movie so much? Granted that I'm an incurable sci-fi addict, and therefore more forgiving, but this film hardly deserves the bad reputation it has. Yes, it has its flaws (especially in its last 30 min) and it can be a little slow sometimes, but the plotline is very intriguing and I love the cast. It's a bit like the movie The Abyss, except more dark and horror-toned. An overall decent sci-fi flick, that altough far from excellent, held my interest all the way through.
September 19, 2010
CloudStrife84
Mike S

Super Reviewer

    1. Harry Adams: Stop calling me Jerry.
    – Submitted by Stephen D (20 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Latest News on Sphere

November 5, 2008:
Michael Crichton Passes Away (1942-2008)
Best-selling author, screenwriter, and director Michael Crichton has passed away at the age of 66....
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