A young psychic on the run from himself is recruited by a government agency experimenting with the use of the dream-sharing technology and is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of the U.S. president.
A government funded project looks into using psychics to enter people's dreams, with some mechanical help. When a subject dies in his sleep from a heart attack Alex Gardner becomes suspicious that another of the psychics is killing people in the dreams somehow and that is causing them to die in real life. He must find a way to stop the abuse of the power to enter dreams.Written by
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.
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