Brainstorm - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Brainstorm Reviews

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½ June 15, 2017
Infamous for Natalie Wood's death during filming, this incoherent sprawling mess is at least interesting as a snapshot of what the early-eighties assumed the future would look like. Strange bicycles, VR, poloneck sweaters and loud plaid jackets, apparently. Trumbull's one decent idea is to render all the VR sequences in wide-screen and up the volume. But he hasn't a clue how to direct actors. Bizarre.
January 4, 2017
Better than most people give the film credit for. Natalie Wood's death didn't mandate "extensive" rewrites as the description claimed, but some scenes were shot with her sister as stand-in (probably long shots and over-the-shoulder reverse shots). The real killer of this film was MGM's attempted to cancel the production as "unfinishable" and claim the insurance payout from Lloyds of London. The film was completed with completion funds, and Lloyds became a profit partner. MGM released it with a lackluster promotional effort, and it lost money. Still, some good drama and ethical issues dealt with in the film. Walken and Fletcher are superb.
December 4, 2016
This film had a better concept behind it than was the actual film. The story revolves around a group of scientists who figure out how to record their experiences, whether it's skydiving, eating a delicious dinner, or even sex. When one scientist is alone in the lab and has a heart attack, Louise Fletcher in a excellent performance, she records her death experience. If the film has focused on that plot element, I think this would have been a much more interesting of metaphysical story, but instead the film goes down a familiar path of the military wants to use the technology military purposes and the idealistic scientists want to stop them from misusing their device. The film does have some interesting what-if ideas early in the film in regards to how virtual reality might be used, which is especially interesting since VR is now becoming more of a reality. The film was directed by Douglas Trumbull and he uses an interesting technique of the real world being a smaller aspect ratio, but when characters use the VR device, the film jumps into a widescreen fisheye hyper distorted version of reality. The film is based on story by Bruce Joel Rubin, who'd later write other smart death themes films like "Ghost," "Jacob's Ladder" and also "Deadly Friend." I'm guessing that his original screenplay would have been much more interesting. But on the plus side, Christopher Walker is very good in the lead, as is Natalie Wood in her film film role. You also have a good early score by James Horner. This film also had a more interesting of behind the scenes story surrounding the mysterious death of Natalie Wood than was the actual film as well (Wood drown during filming on a boat at sea with Walden and husband Robert Wagner).
November 25, 2016
good sci-fi movie & natalie wood's final film
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2015
Brainstorm is a movie I want to rate up but can't. The plot simply is not there and the whole thing becomes silly towards the end. However, I did enjoy the 80s style futurism, Walken (as always), as well as the performance by Louise Fletcher. The transfer looks good, much better than I expected, better than most 80s films.
August 18, 2015
I'm on the fence about this one. It suffers from most Trumbull pictures, which is that it's beautiful looking but the plot is hokey and full of holes. The sound mixing was awful, totally up and down. The change of aspect ratio is jarring and probably only looks decent in the theater (though i can't imagine it's not distracting there too).This was a good concept that sort of dissolved by bad writing and some bad directing- you have a cast of real talent but nobody's fulfilling their potential. I loved Louise Fletcher's character (and acting), and I love the concept of seeing and feeling somebody's thoughts as they die. If they had trimmed the fat, thrown out the marriage/love stuff, thrown out the hokey friends-band-together ending and just went for the deep and disturbing aspects hard, this could have easily been 5 stars. I'm not one to suggest remakes but I would definitely love to see a trimmed remake of this movie- though it would have to be real sets Trumbull style and minimal CGI.
June 27, 2015
Almost very good. Creative and original. Great music, but some unnecessary scenes and unbelievable situations. Ultimately raises theme of criticizing the military industrial complex.
April 11, 2015
A real horror show of a movie....only of importance as Woods last.
March 11, 2015
I accidentally saw this when I meant to see The Dead Zone. This wasn't too good. Mostly a bunch of talk about a machine and experiments so it was more like an old documentary I was forced to watch in junior high.
December 30, 2014
An obtuse, difficult picture that feels all over the place.
½ December 18, 2014
Unsatisfying melodrama.
December 5, 2014
It's an interesting concept to think about and it's well acted, but it has not aged well.
September 16, 2014
Amazing James Horner soundtrack, pretty dark film...
June 8, 2014
A mess, but it has such a cool concept.
½ April 20, 2014
An exceptional science fiction film that seems to just miss the mark. In this open ended meditation on the applications and abuses of technology, ontology is placed front and centre. Though the film seems to meander and plaid a bit, there is great momentum as the film approaches it's unlikely and ambitious finale.
January 25, 2014
As electroencephalogram technology comes into more use, this film's premise becomes more potentially "hard" sci-fi. Amazing sets for any computer nostalgia geek. Dip switches galore. Realistic, ahead-of-the-time technology. Breathtaking score.
½ December 5, 2013
Brainstorm has a killer concept for its time about a headset designed to allow others to experience the physical pleasures of another individual wearing a pairing headset. It's well cast too, and Louise Fletcher's performance is easily the stand out. It's just too bad the film's interesting setup just kind of died and went nowhere. For such an thrilling concept, not to mention the film's genius of making the regular scenes in 1:85:1 and the headset sequences 2:35:1, the rest of the film is rather slow and doesn't build up enough to make us care. It's a very indecisive film, and it's just a bit off balance. I understood a lot of what the film was going for, but it missed its mark. The movie was fun, sort of dramatic at the beginning, than turned into pain and conspiracy, than became psychological. It was too disjointed and all over. It's too bad, because there's a lot of great scenes in this movie with the characters developing and experimenting with the invention, the headset becoming an object of trauma and psychological damage, and the thrills emerge fairly well. Its pace just kills it in the end, and while the concluding act brings the film back up to speed with some action moments, it then becomes a bit rushed. I can assume Natalie Wood's demise may have ultimately affected some of the shooting and the final film, given how the production had to make its way around her death and ran into issues. A missed potential for sure, I'd watch it again for some key scenes, but otherwise it's a unfortunate disappointment.
October 1, 2013
i love the movie of the future
½ September 27, 2013
Unfortunately Natalie Wood's death condemned this promising picture to be only half as good as it could have been.
September 1, 2013
I never had seen this one. Watched it last night....and I reallthing it was far beyond its years. The subject matter is very heady, but its pretty well done, and features the beautiful FX work of Douglas Trumball. (whom also directed it). It is a subject that has been taped into dozens of times since, but this was (from an early 80's perception) pretty radical. The "brainscan" sequences are presented in ultra wide fisheyed POV format...and are super fun to watch. I may want to get a blue ray of this...The acting is so so...but certainly not too distracting.
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