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Man I've been watching My Science Project since way back when I was a kid. It was better then but the only thing that has really dated it is the special effects. The story is still good, Fisher Stevens is still funny, and Dennis Hopper is still far out man! I'm not saying that this movie is better than Star Wars or anything but it's a pretty good example of cheesy 80's Sci-Fi. The trick to watching My Science Project or indeed, any movie from the 80's, is to not take it seriously. Turn off the white hot critic's eye and just enjoy this movie for what it is. It's a great movie. Bottom Line: I can't think of many 80's movies in this genre that are this film's equal, except for maybe The Last Starfighter. If you can let me know.
Sadly, My Science Project was a very big risk that seems to transcend
it's teen film genre. While people will cite better time-travel themed
movies like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Back o the Future,
this one will certainly stand on its own due to the Twilight Zone
quality of it. Great visuals, great idea, and the story didn't try to
insult it's audience by making the story painfully obvious.
I especially liked Mike's character, a kind of good guy that was a diamond stuck in the pond scum. Unfortunately, his entire performance was stepped on by Fisher Steven's over the top performance. Dennis Hopper made a perfect cameo performance that really fit his bi-polar acting style.
While this film won't be considered one of the elite teen films of the 1980s like The Breakfast Club, Bill and Ted, River's Edge, Say Anything, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it will fit comfortably with the silver medalists of that area, much like Can't Buy Me love, The Wraith and Three O'Clock High. A great film for teen movie aficionados.
Movies come in phases now and then where a bunch of movies with similar themes come out at about the same time. There was the underwater craze of 89 ("The Abyss", "Leviathan", and "Deepstar Six") and there was the body switch craze ("Big", "Vice Versa", and one with Dudley Moore). This movie came out during the comedy with a science twist. The other two movies that came out during this phase are "Real Genius" and "Weird Science". I liked this phase as I enjoyed all three movies quite a bit. This one was no exception as it combined humor and science fiction very well. This one has a couple of kids finding this strange device that I think ended up being some type of engine. Anyway when this thing gets hooked up with power and turns on all sorts of strange stuff starts happening. The thing seems to be able to move time or open portals. The end is great as the thing really goes berserk and it turns the school (I think it was the school) into a battle zone complete with different times. There is a dinosaur and mutants. All in all I am probably in the minority in liking this one, but I thought it was really good.
My Science Project is a great 80s sci-fi movie about a kid in high
school who sneaks into an old air force junkyard and stumbles upon an
alien device discarded in a 1950s fallout shelter, and tries to turn it
in as his science project. When his teacher, played by Dennis Hopper,
finds a way to power the device, he zaps himself into another time
dimension and from there, all hell breaks loose. Eventually, the kid
and his best friend, played by Fisher Stevens, find themselves battling
their way through Roman gladiators, the Viet Cong, post-apocalyptic
mutants and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex in each room of their High School
as they make their way toward the science hall to deactivate the device
and save their town.
Those who criticize the writing and dialogue miss it's depth as it is as much a movie about trust as it is about time travel.
John Stockwell plays a believable high school cool kid who drives a muscle car and hangs out at auto shop. Fisher Stevens plays his hilariously bigoted sidekick buddy Vinnie from Brooklyn. Danielle von Zerneck plays Harlan's (Stockwell) geeky would-be bounce-back girlfriend after his bimbo girlfriend dumps him. Raphael Sbarge plays a hopelessly nerdy librarian that ultimately helps Harlan shut down the device. Dennis Hopper plays an unhinged ex-hippie turned science teacher who gets sent into another dimension but shows up at the end.
The special effects are dated but hold well. That T-Rex looked good! Don't get me wrong, it's no Jurassic Park, but it's no Gumby Claymation dinosaur either. If you can overlook the fact that the alien device looks like something you can buy from Spencer's Gifts and some of the cheesiness that comes with an 80s movie, it's a pretty exciting film.
If your a sci-fi fan, it's definitely worth a look. It's not just a good idea, it's a good movie as well. I loved it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love 'My Science Project'. I first saw it on HBO one day back in 87 and
loved it right away, it's a great sci-fi thriller, with many moments of
comedy as well.
It concerns a car nut high school student played by John Stockwell (you'd think that after the hell he went through with Christine, he'd stay the heck away from cars), who needs a science project to pass his science class, problem is, he doesn't have one. So one night he, and his new girlfreind are rumaging around in an old military junk yard outside of town hoping to find something suitable to impress his teacher, and find a very odd little machine. It's high tech looking, with a glass globe mounted in the middle that when powered up, emits electricity that resembles one of those plasma globes you'd find at Spencers Gifts in the mall. As he's cleaning it, he decides to hook it up to a power supply, this turns out to be a huge mistake as 'the gizmo', as it's called in the film, turns out to be an engine from a spacecraft and can locally warp time and space, bringing objects and people from other times into our own. It soon goes wildly out of control and eventually the whole school is caught in a warp, and it's up to Stockwell, and his wise cracking freind, played wonderfully by Fisher Stevens, to shut down the gizmo for good.
A very underrated film, with impressive visuals that still hold up well (except for the dinosaur), great acting from it's cast, inspired writing, and when watched on a good surround set up, a great audio mix to boot. It means no harm, and is fun.
I just saw this on DVD for the first time in probably about 15 years. I used to love it when I was about 7 years old. I was amazed how many lines I remembered. Though often I didn't remember them from this movie. I just remembered them as lines my 2 brothers and I worked into our vernacular growing up. Especially the timeless "Make my semesta!!!" Besides all the great one liners, there were guns, explosions, gladiators, monster's from the future and past, a TREX, dynamite, and lot's of cool electricity effects. Everything a 7 year old boy would love. So I highly recommend it for a boy child. But for everyone else, only if you are bored or really like seeing cheesy 80's flicks.
High school student Michael Harlan (John Stockwell) is a kid with a
fairly narrow focus: he's a car junkie. His girl dumps him because she
thinks he spends more time tinkering with cars than with her. To get
his science teacher Bob Roberts (Dennis Hopper) off his back, Mike
scours a local military junkyard for any piece of junk that he can pass
off as a science project. Well, the item that he steals is no ordinary
junk: it was discovered back in the 1950s and is apparently an alien
device that can create time-space warps. When Mike, his buddy Vince
(Fisher Stevens), and Bob start messing around with the thing, an
immense amount of havoc ensues as the high school is inundated with
characters and animals from the past and a possible future.
Debuting director Jonathan R. Betuel, who'd written "The Last Starfighter", does alright with this first feature. It doesn't display *that* much imagination (we get cavemen, mutants, and a dinosaur, but not that much more), but it does have some good energy. Nicely shot in 2.35:1, it gets off to a solid start, and the characters are amusing to watch. Stockwell is likable in his first top billed role (after playing the best friend to car junkie Keith Gordon in "Christine"), and Danielle von Zerneck is appealing as his leading lady. Stevens, and Raphael Sbarge as the nerdy Sherman, are very much playing stereotypes, but they do give the roles 100%. The adult actors are largely wasted - Barry Corbin as Mikes' dad, Ann Wedgeworth as the dads' new wife, Richard Masur (who gets to be broader than usual) as a detective. The true standout performance in "My Science Project" comes from Hopper, who's perfectly cast as the former hippie who's all too happy to relive his protest filled youth. Robert DoQui, Michael Berryman, Pamela Springsteen, and an uncredited Al Leong all have small roles.
The music by Peter Bernstein is appropriate, the visual effects are well done overall (especially that dinosaur, the work of Doug Beswicks' team), and there are some funny lines here and there. All in all, the movie is juvenile, silly, and ridiculous, but it does do a respectable job of entertaining its audience. Stevens's line (used as my summary), when asked why he's wearing shades indoors, is truly a howler.
Seven out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was five-years-old when this movie first came to HBO. I haven't seen it
in a while, but I still have a good impression of it. If you like cheesy
sci-fi films, you'll like this one.
<SPOILER ALERT> The premise of the movie is fantastic. A UFO crashes decades ago. What does the military do with it? They put it in a junkyard where high-schoolers have access to the strange craft's engine.
Now Michael tries to pass off the alien time-warp engine as his own science project. Now, I've studied to be a teacher, and there's no way on The Good Lord's earth that ANY teacher would believe this was a student's own project.
My favorite part was when they were trying to outrun the electric tendrils of the gizmo. Now let's see, electricity runs at THE SPEED OF LIGHT!!! According to Einstein, NOTHING but energy can go as fast as light. Yet, THEY OUTRUN THE TENDRILS! I don't care how good your car is, it can't run that fast! This is so cheesy, you have to love it.
I would have to say that Dennis Hopper, the teacher, and Fisher Stevens, the best-friend Vince, give Academy Award winning performances, if the Academy had a sense of humor. The best line belongs to Stevens. As Vince is having his mug shot taken, the cop asks him why he's wearing sunglasses at night (How '80s is that?). He replies, "When you're cool, the sun shines on you 24 hours a day." Great delivery.
If you like cheesy films, you must, MUST, see this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1985's My Science Project is a childhood favorite of mine. Despite some
awesome special effects, it's mostly forgotten today.
It begins in the 1950's. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is brought to an Arizona Air Force base and shown a crashed UFO. He orders the high-ranking generals, "Get rid of it!" Flashforward to modern times (a.k.a. the 1980's). Mike Harlan is a student at a high school in Carson, Arizona, known as "Motorhead Mike" to his friends because of his love of cars. He has problems. His single father is remarrying to an Avon saleswoman, he's recently had a bad breakup with his bitch girlfriend Crystal, and on top of everything else, he's going to flunk science unless his science project is, as the teacher (played by Dennis Hopper!) puts it, "dino-supreme." Mike is asked out on a date by nerdy girl Ellie Sawyer, and, to spite Crystal, he agrees, but Mike's idea of a date is to drag Ellie along to the nearby decommissioned Air Force base, now used as a junkyard. His brilliant plan is to find some random doo-dad to fix it up and pass it off as his science project. What he finds is a futuristic device which is apparently the engine or power source to the crashed UFO seen previously. It resembles a lightning globe from Spencer's Gifts.
After getting the "gizmo, " as Mike's deadbeat best friend Vince Latello calls it, back to school, Mike discovers that the thing gobbles up raw energy like a cop on a donut factory (to steal a line from Ghostbusters 2). Hooking it up to a car battery causes A) the battery to drain and melt (!), and B) a Grecian vase to appear out of thin air. Consulting school nerd Sherman Reardon, Mike and Vince learn that the device is capable of creating a time warp when it has access to power.
They show it to the science teacher who rather stupidly hooks it up to an electrical outlet, which results in him being zapped into the future, and, after some further complicated shenanigans, Mike, Ellie and Vince are forced to raid Mike's dad's hardware store for some dynamite, which they use to blow up an electrical tower, stopping the "gizmo" from feeding off Carson's power station. This gets them arrested. Well, Mike and Vince anyway. The cops ignore Ellie for some reason.
To prove their story and spring her kinda-sorta boyfriend, Ellie returns to the school to get the machine, where she encounters Sherman the nerd. Intrigued, Sherman repeats the science teacher's mistake and plugs the device back in, only this time, with nothing stopping it (the powerlines have been fixed), it starts sucking up so much energy that soon all of Carson is blacked out. Mike and Vince use the confusion to escape custody and quickly discover their school is now the center for an ever-expanding time warp threatening to consume all of Carson, and eventually the world.
Venturing within, our heroes have to find and rescue Ellie and unplug the device and stop the warp before it expands and destroys all of creation. To do so, they'll have to fight their way past a variety of grouchy individuals teleported in from other time periods, including a Roman gladiator, a caveman, Viet Cong soldiers, mutants from the future, and, in my personal favorite sequence, a giant tyrannosaurus rex.
So, it's a fairly small-scale film in terms of special effects. The tyrannosaur is the movie's big setpiece, but they went all-out on him. He's gorgeous. He's (apparently) a combination of a back-projected puppet and a full-size animatronic, and he looks very realistic for 1985. In fact I'd go so far as to say that he's the best-looking dinosaur made prior to Jurassic Park.
I've seen this movie several times and actually enjoyed the movie. John Stockwell plays the lead roll of a 80's car crazy High Schooler who is fighting the clock to come up with a project for his science class or he will fail. So he breaks into in Air Force Bone yard base full of old aircraft and accidentally stumbles into a underground bunker where he finds some sort of alien drive device and here the fun begins. His side kick Vince played by Fisher Stevens (who is hilarious) girl friend Ellie played by Daniellie Von Zemeck and Librarian geek Sherman (Mr. Peabody's gofer?) played by Raphael Sbarge are all Drawn into a none stop adventure of time travel, police investigation and teenage problems. This is definitely a 80's special affects movie for sure but still brings the plot across enough to get by. Dennis Hopper as the 60's radical turned laughing gas sucking science teacher was enjoyable to watch if your a hopper fan. On a scale of 1-10 I give movie this an 8.
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