|Page 1 of 7:||      |
|Index||63 reviews in total|
Years after studying Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) for his psychic
abilities, Dr. Paul Novotny (Max von Sydow) tracks him down to talk him
into experimenting with psychic dream research. However, higher ups in
the dream research program may have ulterior, nefarious motives.
Dreamscape may be a good candidate for "most misleading poster art". The theatrical poster, which is also the DVD cover, suggests a kid-oriented, slightly hokey adventure film--perhaps a combination of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), The Neverending Story (1984) and "The Hardy Boys Mysteries" (1977). Not that the combination sounds like a bad idea to me, but this film is much more adult, much more sci-fi, and more of a thriller. It's not really an adventure, although some of the dream material could be seen that way. The tone, if not content, is closer to something like Coma (1978), and later films like Flatliners (1990) and The Cell (2000), the latter being obviously influenced by Dreamscape. It also has a bit of the bizarre surrealist tone of late-1970s fare such as Phantasm (1979) (and this aspect also influenced films like The Cell).
Part of the reason the films works as well as it does is the cast. Dennis Quaid carries the film, frequently injecting enjoyable comic relief. Max von Sydow is always excellent. Kate Capshaw, as Jane DeVries, is also good as the research assistant and Alex' love interest. Although they're underused, Christopher Plummer, Eddie Albert, George Wendt and David Patrick Kelly all turn in superb performances as well.
Director Joseph Ruben frequently treats us to great dream sequences, with often-subtle touches. Note, for example, the different colors upon entering different persons' dreams. For the relatively benign construction worker, the entry is blue. For the child troubled with nightmares, there is a complex of colors. For Jane, who is giving Alex the cold shoulder, the color is an icy silver-white. Although the film was relatively low budget, and effects relatively primitive at the time, I thought all of the effects worked well. I even loved the part stop-motion, part guy-in-a-costume snake-man. At times the stop motion work briefly resembled Harryhausen. I especially loved the more surreal and more horrific aspects of the dreamworlds, such as we see from Eddie Albert's character, the expressionistic sets for the child's dream, the zombies, and so on.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Dreamscape is also much more effective on the suspense/thriller end than I expected it to be. There are a few great chase scenes, and one brutal (though not graphic) murder on-screen, one off-screen. It was also steamier than I expected in one section.
One of my favs from the 80's. There are certain pictures that grown-ups look to bring them back to the action/suspense/scare/titillation they felt as teen-agers. This fits the bill perfectly. I saw this as original release in the movies in my 30's, allowed myself to let the teenager within to take over, and have seen it at least 3-4 more times on TV. Just love it. Quaid is perfect as the charming/bumbling psychic recruited to (presumably) help people with dream problems. OK, so Kate Capshaw isn't a great actress, but she was quite good enough in the sexy-hot, yet resistant, scientist role she was meant to play. Max Von Sydow was perfect here as the main scientist. At first I was disappointed in Plummer's underplayed role, but I'm more forgiving in the subsequent viewings. The dream sequences were quite entertaining, some fun and some scares, and David Patrick Kelly (as Tommy Ray Glatman) did a FIRST CLASS job as a despicable psychopathic creep. And the ending was top-notch (on several levels, no spoilers). Despite comments that this seemed to copy others, I actually found this to be quite original. It had a plotline, continuity, and finale, and viewers didn't have to scratch their heads trying to figure out what happened or what would happen. I actually appreciate movies which don't rely on TONS of new wave computerized special effects, just enough from the 80's to set the scenery. I always recommend it highly to those who haven't seen it.
For 1984, this is a good sci-fi movie. I remember watching its as a kid. I was scared for days of the Snake Man in the movie. Having watched it recently, I noticed that it had naturally lost the terror that it instilled when I was a child. Despite this, it brought back foggy memories and allowed me to analyze and enjoy the film on an adult level.
The story concerns a project that allows telepaths to enter into the dreams of others. Inside these dreams they are able to help/harm the individuals from/with their nightmares. Dennis Quaid plays a young Alex Gardner who possesses the gift of telepathy. Under the study of Max Von Sydow and Kate Capshaw (forgot how attractive she was), Alex enter patient's dreams and tries to help them. But with this ability, there are others that would use it as a weapon. When the President (Eddie Albert) begins having haunting nightmares, can someone help him escape his dreams before its too late?
Dreamscape delivers some of the eighties creativity and originality that we can only hope for in today's movies. Take out the gore and grotesqueness of "The Cell" and you could say this movie was its inspiration.
I just saw Dreamscape on television. Despite some flaws, it's not a bad
movie at all. It's very well-acted (though George Wendt is wasted in a
thankless plot-device role) and features some very impressive, CONVINCING
effects. If you want gratuitous computer-cartoon crap, look elsewhere. The
"snake man" is impressive, and the actual dreamscapes themselves feature
some inventively bizarre set design.
Of course, I must mention the flaws. Though Dennis Quaid and Kate Capshaw have appeal, their characters are only partially developed, and the romantic angle of their relationship is quite standard and seems a bit forced. The motivations of several characters seem muddled, and the film tries to be too many things (horror, political conspiracy drama, Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired adventure) for too many audiences. Also, despite creepy bits, it does seem to pull some punches. It's too explicit to be purely psychological, yet it stops just short of being a visual nightmare. Basically it lacks a hard edge...of course, as I said, I saw it cut for TV.
Still, despite the problems, it's worth watching if you run across it. It's well-made and effective, with engaging performances and some sufficiently eerie passages.
Excellent cast heading up this Fantasy/Horror film with excellent early F/X (seems amateurish to today's standards). The reason I love this film so much is that it spotlights the subconscious and its hidden agendas. It's a classic war between good and evil. The plot is solid, and it's a real headgame when you think about the dream world as another realm completely. Great chemistry between Quaid and Capshaw, and Sydow delivers his usual solid performance. Excellent conclusion!
The idea is fantastic. Can you imagine being able to get into other people's dreams, watch them, interact with them. The problem is, the plot is inconclusive and becomes kind of a TV movie along the way. It would make a fantastic remake with a stronger cast and director. However, movies about dreaming are always scary because they touch on something so close and yet inexplicable to all of us. I saw recently a short movie from Italy entitled "Xchange" which is the closest to this one in terms of innovation insofar as the subject is concerned. Not an easy area to tell a long story about. Dreams are often used as omens or hints of psychological discomfort in movies. Instead, it would be great if they could be regarded as something different: a world of their own, a parallel state of mind no less real than real life itself. Someone should redo Dreamscape!
"Dreamscape" does require a little more suspension of disbelief that most entries in the sci-fi genre, but adds up to well-paced, generally enjoyable, occasionally exciting film. Effects are somewhat dated today, but Quaid's charming, confident performance makes up for that. Definitely a minor picture, but still unjustly neglected.
There's a fair amount of 80s style imagination and panache to be found
in this nifty combination of sci-fi, thriller, and political intrigue.
It's got a hell of a good cast and a more than capable director, Joseph
Ruben, who'd started out in exploitation films and later turned out the
solid sleeper "The Stepfather" as well as mainstream fare such as
"Sleeping with the Enemy". Its premise may be too close to "A Nightmare
on Elm Street" in some ways, but at least the political element helps
it to stand apart.
Dennis Quaid, at the peak of his charisma, plays Alex Gardner, a psychically gifted young man who would rather use his gifts for self- gain but reluctantly agrees to help old pal Paul Novotny (ever delightful Max von Sydow) who's developed a revolutionary dream therapy program. It seems that now people like Alex can be inserted into the nightmares of others, and help them to deal with them. However, there's a smooth but cold government man (a chilling Christopher Plummer) who has sinister motives for supporting this program.
Wonderful visual design is just one of the hooks of this story; the nightmares each get their own "dream tunnel", for one thing, and for another, the bleak post-apocalyptic landscape of which the President (Eddie Albert) dreams and the skewed images experienced by young Buddy (Cory "Bumper" Yothers) are very well realized. The special effects are eye popping, and things do get pretty grim and gory (a heart is ripped out of a chest). One of the highlights of the movie is the nefarious Snakeman, a monster brought to life through a combination of stop motion and an actor (Larry Cedar) in a costume. The music is cheesy electronic stuff, which is kind of surprising considering that the composer is the great Maurice Jarre. There's some witty dialogue, and a steamy subplot involving Alex and the young Dr. Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw, who's lovely but sporting some real 80s hair here).
The cast couldn't be better; also appearing are the eternally amusing David Patrick Kelly as weaselly little psychopath Tommy Ray, George Wendt as a horror novelist who snoops around, and character actors such as Redmond Gleeson, Peter Jason, Chris Mulkey, Madison Mason, and Brian Libby. Also, Ruben keeps the pacing consistent and the big showdown between Alex and Tommy Ray is a set piece worth waiting for.
With all of this going for it, "Dreamscape" is a totally engrossing diversion that may be very much of its time but still does a good job of entertaining the viewer.
Eight out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid), a smart-ass sax-playing psychic, is
press-ganged into taking part in a top secret dream-experiment, whereby
he is able to enter the subconscious minds of people suffering from
When the President of the USA (Eddie Albert) is brought to the high-tech dream facility (in an attempt to help rid him of his recurring visions of a nuclear apocalypse), Alex discovers that an assassination attempt is about to take place: evil G-man Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) has recruited Alex's nasty psychic counterpart Tommy Ray (David Patrick Kelly) to try and snuff out the Prez by entering his mind while he sleeps and killing him. Only Alex, with some help from sexy scientist Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw), can thwart the plan, by also slipping into the top man's 'dreamscape' and confronting bad-guy Tommy before he can carry out his dastardly deed.
Made in 1984, the same year as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dreamscape is suspiciously similar, thematically, to Wes Craven's famous horror flick. Since Craven's film had been in development for some time before Dreamscape, one can only assume that the people behind this thriller had caught wind of Wes's project, and decided to borrow certain elements for their own dream-based adventure. It doesn't really matter, however, because the film ends up taking its own path: where Wes's film was purely an out and out horror, Dreamscape is part action, part sci-fi, part horror, and part comedy, and the result is a terrific slab of cheesy 80s fun.
Quaid makes a likable protagonist, and he is ably supported by an impressive cast, which also includes the excellent Max Von Sydow as Alex's mentor, and George Wendt (from Cheers) as a novelist who first alerts our hero to the more sinister side of meddling with dreams. The action aspect of the film is its weakest point (mostly consisting of some fairly unexceptional chase scenes), but the fantasy angle more than makes up for things. When Alex masters the art of entering the dream realm, the fun really begins.
After testing his psychic abilities on a few easy cases, Alex meets his first real challenge when he volunteers to help a boy who is suffering from recurring nightmares about a snake-man. This sequence, which takes place in a wonderfully realised expressionist set, is great fun and features some less-than-perfect stop motion animation and creature effects which only add to the film's charm.
Alex successfully helps the boy confront his fears and defeat the snake-man, but in doing so, he makes an enemy of Tommy Ray, who is jealous of his new rival. Inevitably, the two psychics eventually meet in the atomic wasteland of the President's subconscious, and Tommy is not only determined to 'off' the country's leader, but also to get even with Alex. In this great finalé, which is surprisingly scary and occasionally gruesome (at one point, Tommy Ray pulls a still beating heart from one character's chest),the bad guy uses every trick available to him in the dream realm, turning his fingers into blades (Freddy Krueger, anyone?), doing a martial arts routine with glowing nunchakus, summoning the help of radioactive zombies, and transforming himself into Alex's secret fearthe snake-man.
Psychic Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is recruited for a
government-funded institute. In it psychics are able to get into
peoples' dreams and interact with them. However one subject dies while
in this state and Alex realizes something is wrong. And the President
(Eddie Albert) is going to visit the institute for some nightmares he
I enjoyed watching this but realized, after it was over, that it didn't make a whole lot of sense and there were plot holes left and right. Still, it moves quickly and the dream sequences themselves were lots of fun. This was also the second PG-13 rating ever released. It was cut to get that (a sex scene between Quaid and Kate Capshaw was almost completely dropped) but there were some complaints about the amount of violence (none of which was cut) that was allowed in. By today's standards though it's not that bad.
Quaid is good--he's young, handsome and not taking any of this seriously. Max von Sydow is very good as the head doctor of the research. Kate Capshaw is pretty terrible as his assistant. Christopher Plummer seems to be proving he can say his lines without moving a muscle in his face. Albert is lots of fun as the President and David Patrick Kelly almost runs away with the movie as Tommy Ray Glatin.
So a quick, fun little movie. Just don't think about it too much.
|Page 1 of 7:||      |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|