Dreamscape - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dreamscape Reviews

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½ March 10, 2019
Dreamscape: 5 out of 10: Not to be confused with Innerspace (The one with Martin Short) Dreamscape has Dennis Quaid as a psychic mind reading never do well kidnaped by a government agency to work in their dream program. A great cast and premise are let down by a poor script and story as well as some underwhelming action beats.

The Good: The cast here is great across the board. Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer? Why you are just one, Christopher Lee, away from a trifecta of awesome. Dennis Quaid is at maximum smirk level, Kate Capshaw is surprisingly sexy and you even have George Wendt in a cameo of sorts.

The premise of being able to enter peoples dreams and change their minds or fix their psychosis is a fun one that has been revisited over the years by better properties. (Or even the same year by Nightmare on Elm Street.)

The Bad: All movie universes have rules. The rules can change throughout the movie as a major plot point (See The Matrix) but overall good stories work within the rule set that they themselves set up. Dreamscape is all over the place.

It is established Dennis Quaidâ(TM)s character is psychic which allows him to enter other peoples dreams. Can he also see the future? The movie is unclear. Obviously reading peoples minds would not help him win money at the horse track. Yet the film sets him up as doing just that. (Poker player is a much more obvious choice.) They also have him being chased by track people for I assume winning too much which makes zero sense if you have any inkling about how betting at a large state-run horse track works.

On the other hand, if he can see into the future why would he make the idiotic choices that he does? Câ(TM)mon to think of it if he can read minds why doesnâ(TM)t he realize who the bad guys are well before the audience. (In all fairness you donâ(TM)t hire David Patrick (Warriors, come out to play-i-ay.) Kelly to be a good guy.

Can you die in a dream? The entire plot revolves around a planned assassination during a dream but the opening dream sequences clearly show that you are not killed in a dream. The movie seemingly changes its own rules halfway through.

The Ugly: What is Christopher Plummerâ(TM)s endgame in this thing. Here has a tool to enter peoples minds and change the way they think (Inception) and instead he is thinking all Freddy Kruger complete with claymation snake monster. Even if he succeeded one can clearly see it would not work out the way he wanted it to.

In Conclusion: Great cast basically wasted on tepid sci-fi premise. Special effects are of the time so I can excuse them but the action sequences wouldnâ(TM)t be out of place in a lighthearted Quincy episode. The charisma of the leads isnâ(TM)t enough to carry the tepid romance and the excellent chops of the bad guys are helpless against their lame-brained scheme. Passable curiosity piece and time capsule but it never really rises above its own averageness.

Dreamscape (Rifftrax edition): 4 out of 10: Janet Varney and Cole Stratton guest star as riffers and it does not work out well. Dreamscape provides plenty of material for a really good riff, unfortunately, our guest riffers leave most of it on the table. What they do bring to the table is some very low hanging fruit punctuated by lots of silence. There is also seemingly no real connection or banter between the two where one feels they recorded their riffs separately. Honestly, they add nothing to the movie and are at best a distraction.
February 11, 2019
Thinly written characters with no personal problems outside the plot. No real antagonist for most of the movie, so the absence of conflict just causes the story to sag. Then the finale goes on forever.
½ September 14, 2018
Still interesting, though the special effects are obviously not up-to-date
½ August 12, 2018
This is one of those 80s movies I watched on VHS over and over again and dearly loved. Dennis Quaid plays a cocky young psychic who's recruited for a scientific study to enter into the dreams of another person. Their hope is to assist people experiencing traumatic nightmares by entering into their dream and helping them overcome whatever it is that is plaguing them. One such dream is a young boy experiencing nightmares about a "Snake Man" tying to kill him. According to this film's "rules," if you die in a dream, you die in real life. One psychic was already "lost" after going into the boy's dream. That sequence is one that was burned itself into my own young brain and was quite scary back in the day. Watching it now, it's still nicely scary and I also very much enjoyed the German Expressionist influenced production design elements of the nightmare sequence, along with the awesomely retro claymation Snake Man. But the main plot is about the president of the United States having nightmares about ending the world with nuclear war and those nightmares are influencing his real-life decisions. Now enter another cocky young psychic, an excellent David Patrick Kelly, who is (SPOILER ALERT) being sent by an evil Christopher Plummer into the dreams of the president and kill him, so it's up to Quaid to stop him. The battle between Quaid and Kelly in a surreal dream world remains suspenseful, exciting, and visually interesting, even if the special effects are wildly dated. "Dreamscape" was directed by underrated director Joseph Ruben, who also directed underrated thrillers like "The Stepfather" and "True Believer," and it was co-written by Ruben and Chuck Russell ("Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" and "The Mask"), so it's a smart talented group of filmmakers behind the camera. Also behind the camera is cinematographer Brian Tufano, who'd previously shot "Quadrophenia" who would later go on to shoot on films like "Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave." Top all that off with a surprisingly strong supporting cast that includes Max von Sydow, Eddie Albert as the president, Kate Capshaw, George Wendt, Larry Gelman, Peter Jason, and Chris Mulkey, along with a fun synthesizer heavy score by Maurice Jarre, and you get a highly enjoyably retro 80s sci-fi film that's pretty hard to resist.
½ July 24, 2018
A little dated and it wasn't as amazing as I expected it to be, but a captivating film with an interesting concept nonetheless. (First and only viewing - 7/21/2018)
½ March 26, 2018
Somehow...this was pretty good...
March 23, 2018
Dreamscape is a disappointing film. It is about to help people who experience recurring nightmares. Dennis Quad and Kate Capshaw give horrible performances. The screenplay is badly written. Joseph Ruben did a horrible job directing this movie. I was not impressed with this motion picture.
August 20, 2017
I wasn't too impressed with the film. its about a psychic who gets involved with a project to get inside of people's dreams and he uses his power mostly for good. but the other psychic is evil and he uses his power to help a bunch of government dicks try to kill the president. but the good guy gets in the presidents dream and saves him. it probably sounds better than it is because i was fairly bored watching it and i barely made it til the end.
May 6, 2017
Five stars hands down! So imaginative with an original plot that keeps you on the edge of your seats throughout the entire movie! Well ahead of its time with some really cool special effects. Tommy Ray played by David Patrick Kelly is the epitome of an evil villain that you want to see go down! Bob Blair who is well played by Christopher Plummer as a smooth suave talking psychopath bent on twisting the fabric of America. Also, at the very end you get to have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful bodies with large firm breast ever created! Mrs Blair played by actress Timothy Blake!
½ December 23, 2016
Fun mix of sci-fi, adventure, horror, fantasy. The story amounts to something akin to a mishmash of nightmare on elm Street and inception. What a cast this one had though!
½ August 26, 2016
Dreamscape could have done more with its characters and cinematic presentation, but the dream sequences -- along with Dennis Quaid's charm -- are enough to serve as an entertaining diversion from the 80s.

V: 63%
March 16, 2016
Ahead of its time...
½ February 28, 2016
Telepathists discover a way to enter people's dreams, which can be used to kill. Interesting and original premise for a film. Quaid is good in the lead role and a top shelf supporting cast is on board with particularly good casting to get David Patrick Kelly, who always excels playing a jerk.
May 10, 2015
Being a popular science fiction film featuring performances from both Dennis Quaid and Max Von Sydow, Dreamscape sounded like a fun adventure.

Dreamscape is clearly a dated film. This becomes clearly apparant in the opening dream sequence where a woman is sceen running in front of a clear green screen before the background changes and yet the colour scheme does not. The artificiality of this scene makes the low-budget nature of Dreamscape all the more apparent, and it proves itself repeatedly throughout the film. The visual effects are no longer surprising because it is easy to isolate the use of green screens in the film, although it is slightly admirably for its low-budget nostalgia nature. They have their moments, but most of the time they prove to be rather obvious by today's standards. But even then, Dreamscape is a film which is more focused on narrative than visual effects. And yet even there Dreamscape fails to make the same amazing impression. Dreamscape maintains a premise very similar to Christopher Nolan's inception, though it is explored in a much cheaper way which prevents it from being much of a spectacle. It has its visual appeal at times, but Dreamscape is far more focused on being a film about the story at the heart of the feature. In that sense there is a certain sense of admirability in Dreamscape, but as well as that the feature is a genuinely slow one which gives it a tendency to drag on a lot of the time. In a sense the film is cleverly written so that it is able to play with an interesting concept on a low budget without being overly reliant on visual effects, but as a result it takes the approach of using a lot of talking which really slows the experience down. And while the science fiction concept at the heart of the story is fairly interesting, the characters themsleves are not always precisely on par. The intentions behind the film are charming though, and for what it's worth I appreciate the intended efforts of director Joseph Ruben. But it just wasn't as fun as I expected.
Though Dreamscape is praised as being a film which combines in elements of science fiction, action and horror all into the one film, for me I felt that things were really scattered. The story itself did not feel consistent enough as there was constantly new themes being thrown in from all kinds of unpredictable angles. The concept itself is interesting, but it is all thrown into a slow moving feature which just fails to make the same impact today that it did upon its original release. The crossover of political themes and various characters against the backdrop of a science fiction film with deadpan comedy proved to just be sporadically entertaining at best. The dream sequences themselves were very creative which I hand high praise to, but it was the rest of the world around it that failed to make an entertaining impression. At heart, Dreamscape is just very much a B-movie which has fun when it sits back and embraces that notion. But it too often makes the mistake of getting caught up taking itself too seriously which is when the story is less than entertaining. And due to the low budget nature of Dreamscape, the visual style of it can be rather dull a lot of the time. Though the visual effects have their own cheesy appeal, the cinematography in the film always follows the most conventional of angles which are hardly atmospheric in any way and the general visual quality is a little bit rough or grim. This is particularly poor in some scenes which are shot with monochromatic backgrounds or nighttime settings. The one major techincal aspect of Dreamscape that is worth boasting about is the musical score. It is interesting to hear Maurice Jarre taking on a retro style 1980's musical score for Dreamscape because it is great in capturing the level of nostalgic and smooth atmosphere for the story, even getting rather intense during the more powerful scenes.
The cast of Dreamscape also supply their own charms to the film.
Dennis Quaid manages to stand consistently strong as the lead actor in Dreamscape. Dennis Quaid shows off that he has a Harrison Ford type charm in Dreamscape which works in the sense that it capitalizes on some of the Indiana Jones type moments in the film. He maintains a likable sense of sophisticated charm, and yet at the same time he has the bold and swift abilities of a smart action hero which means that he intergrates his physical capabilieis with his skill at creating an intelligent character. The balance is great, and he finds it without turning his character into an overly melodramatic one but rather keeping his balance on a steady level. Dennis Quaid leads Dreamscape with the right serious tone and plenty of charm.
Max Von Sydow is a charming presence as always. Dreamscape sees him returning to the science fiction genre and bringing his iconic sense of wisdom along with him, making him the ideal casting deicision for the role of the exposition within the story. His charming tone of voice and effective chemistry with Dennis Quaid see him put to good use in Dreamscape, even if he is limited by the one-dimensional simplicity of the role and the minimal screen time. Christopher Plummer manages to bring along the same kind of charm, although he achieves it through more antagonistic means. David Patrick Kelly is also welcome to see once again.

So Dreamscape benefits from Dennis Quaid's charisma and an original story with many creative dream sequences, making it all the more dissapointing that they are buried beneath a series of extended dialogue sequences which stretch the slow pace of the film on for too long while they cram in all kinds of unsuspecting and inconsistent themes which leave Dreamscape as a film which has aged strangely.
½ September 7, 2014
Dreamscape involves a psychic named Alex and his involvement with a government experiment to enter another's dreams and help them combat their unavoidable fears. When the experiment becomes misused as a means for assassinated people in their dreams, Alex must enter the dreamscape and take down a psychotic killer psychic named Tommy. Despite a silly shoddy effects shot that starts the film off (you can't help but laugh, especially given the rest of the film's effects are better). It's a mix of many things with this film, diving into the psychological and deep while maintaining some action and humour that makes the film a fun ride. I don't endorse remakes often, but I do see this making a great concept for a remake if done right. Perhaps it's been done before already, but this film does it so well that it'd be worth it for an adaptation that looks after this one.
August 27, 2014
Early version of Inception.
March 20, 2014
A lot of science fiction films are either too scientific to be any fun or are entertaining but the science aspect is skeptical at best. "Dreamscape" is the rare exception that manages to find a nice balance between the two; the science is plausible but the film is also fast-paced and enjoyable as well.

Joseph Ruben is a skilled director, and he keeps the film moving, and the screenplay is smart as well. Writer David Loughery has a lot going on here, different genres colliding together in what could have become a mess of a movie, but the whole thing works surprisingly well.

Dennis Quaid is perfect in the lead role, good looking but smart as well, a hero without being overly heroic. He draws you into the story and makes the whole thing believable and accessible. The special effects, while cutting edge upon the film's initial release, seem a bit dated now but in my eyes are still more convincing than the CGI that plagues most movies these days. The stop motion Snake Man would have made Ray Harryhausen proud.

The dream sequences are impressive regardless of the film's age, and I wish there had been more of them. There are several notable similarities to this and another of the year's big dream-like release "A Nightmare on Elm Street", including the moment when bad guy David Patrick Kelly sprouts knives from his hand a la Freddy Krueger. This film made it to theaters a full three months before the Wes Craven future classic.

"Dreamscape" is a splendid science fiction film with a lot of novel, clever ideas. It's deserving of a wider audience to appreciate all it has to offer.
½ February 8, 2014
It is definitely entertaining, but fails to balance between sci-fi and action. It also needs to give more depth to its plot and some of its characters. Despite these flaws, it's a solid science fiction film of the 80s that really gets you thinking about what happens when you dream.
½ November 19, 2013
The first Inception maybe? I'm not saying Nolan stole anything from this earlier film, he by no means did, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's seen it. This imaginative tale of psychics who can reach into the dreams of others to help them overcome their fears, anxieties, and flaws is rather entertaining in that it's elements, though not staggering in originality, are woven together nicely creating a fairly entertaining story. Quaid is dashing hero and Capshaw is a looker as well. Funny how the poster re-imagines Indiana Jones - the movie isn't like that except for one scene. The villains, including Plummer who is like ice, are great in upping the stakes. The story's evolution in both the real and surreal worlds is more than intriguing, even involving the President. A fun film that was highly creative in its day and can still cause some terror, excitement, and even dreams after it ends.
½ October 31, 2013
Great idea developed with a poor cliched plot about conspiracy theories. Too bad they didn't have Nolan back then! The movie was fun to watch anyway...so '80s!
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