Phenomenon (1996) Poster

(1996)

User Reviews

Review this title
124 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
One of my all-time favorites.
a16a16k12 March 2000
This movie doesn't get the credit that it deserves. Travolta's speech at the end of the movie to the doctor is incredible. Rarely do I ever see a movie that acknowledges the value of a single human life like this movie does. Most movies glorify sacrifice. This movie glorifies life. I highly recommend it.
126 out of 141 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Phenomenal Experience.
tfrizzell23 June 2004
An ordinary small-town man (John Travolta) sees a flash of light in the sky one night and then starts to experience super-intelligence and telekinesis. Soon he is changing everyone's life for the better (most notably love interest Kyra Sedgwick, town doctor Robert Duvall and best friend Forest Whitaker). Slyly funny and innovative at first and then impressively dramatic and thought-provoking, "Phenomenon" is an effective picture that comes through because of good performances across the board and smart screen-writing. Travolta and Duvall are excellent together and they share the spotlight in the venture. Under-rated production that should be given a try. It is one of those films that will cause your emotions to come shining through. 4 stars out of 5.
53 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
An Inspiration!
jhazelett726 September 2001
An ex-girlfriend talked me into seeing this movie, and I am happy she did. In my opinion, John Travolta deserved at least a nomination for an Oscar here, if not the award itself. The story was decent, but the performances of Travolta, Forest Whitaker, Robert Duvall, and Kyra Sedgwick made me care about what was happening on the screen. By no means is this a romantic comedy. It's romantic, probably the most romantic film I have seen in a long time. The reason for that is simple...it's real. In most movies you see the main characters sleep together within a day at the most, which rarely happens with two people who are really in love. True love has to take time and effort, which is exactly what you see here. Travolta's George is patient, but not because he wants to be. If you're a romantic at heart you will understand and relate to him, and you will hope for his success as you would for your own. Without giving anything away, I will tell you that the ending is sad, but also heartwarming. George has his "experience" for no other reason than to suggest what we as humans can become. Phenomenon is a story about our potential, the good and bad things that can happen to us if we achieve it. We could only be so lucky, and watching the movie is a good start. I give it 8 out of 10 stars.
69 out of 83 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Excellent film, that's actually quite moving and very sentimental, with a pretty engrossing story, John Travolta is at his best here!
callanvass28 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is an excellent film, that's actually quite moving and very sentimental, with a pretty engrossing story, John Travolta is at his best here!. All the characters are awesome, and the ending while very sad was extremely well done, plus John Travolta is simply incredible in this!. I know a lot of people claimed that this was too sentimental, but I love sentimental so it didn't bother me, and this is one of Travolta's best performances in my opinion, plus it's extremely well made and very well written as well. Kyra Sedgwick is really excellent in her role here, and I thought it had a nice romantic story too, plus I loved all of the telekinetic scenes that Travolta did as well. I loved how they paid tribute at the end to George Malley, and I felt bad for Travolta's character when he was trying to explain stuff at the book fare, plus Travolta and Sedgwick had really good chemistry together. This should be a lot higher then 6.3 in my opinion, and I didn't see the big twist in this coming at all, plus I especially loved Forest Whitaker's character. This is an excellent film, that's actually quite moving and very sentimental, with a pretty engrossing story, John Travolta is at his best here, and I say it's a must see for everyone!. The Direction is excellent!. Jon Turteltaub does an excellent! job here with wonderful camera work, using a great setting, and just keeping the film at an engrossing pace. The Acting is outstanding!. John Travolta is amazing as always and is incredible here, he is just extremely likable, gives one of his best performances, had a character we can care for, had really good chemistry with Kyra Segwick, brought his usual awesome charisma, and was especially good near the end, as I felt so bad for him. Kyra Sedgwick is really excellent here, she was cute, extremely likable, had a winning presence, and I just couldn't help but love her, unlike others I thought she was perfect for this part!. Forest Whitaker is awesome as George's best friend he had good chemistry with Travolta, was funny and brought lots of life into the film, I loved him. Robert Duvall is wonderful as always and does awesome as The Doc, he didn't have a whole lot of screen time, but was fantastic when he was on screen!. David Gallagher and Ashley Buccille are both awesome as the kids, and were very likable. Rest of the cast are fine. Overall a must see for everyone!. ****1/2 out of 5
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Travolta and Duval at their finest.....
myklrichter3 August 2000
This movie was, without a doubt, one of the finest ever made in a long, long time. I was expecting ti to take a sci-fi route with abductions and vulcan mind-melds...but the ending and explanation for George's predicament are not only plausable but heart-breaking. You cannot help but feel for a like George Malley. I didn't buy into too much of the hyseria surrounding the townsfolk as it seemed a little "tacked on"...but the performances by Travolta, Duval, Kyra Sedgwick and Forrest Whitaker made up for any shortcomings and plot holes. I have watched this movie time and time again and the combination of true emotional drama and a beautiful score nearly bring me to tears everytime. 9 out of 10.
51 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
More than it might seem to be
daghda_jim8 October 2003
I think any movie that can be described as both (a) a Scientology recruiting pamphlet, and (b) an analogy to Jesus' life has to be a bit out of the ordinary. In some ways, this film reminds me of another seeming science fiction movie that really turned out to be about people's response to the unusual: `Charly' In both films an extraordinary increase in intelligence frightened the people around the main character; they just couldn't deal with it and feared him for it. The love story was a gem. Lacy had obviously been badly hurt by a past relationship, and simply didn't want to encourage George's love. But when he began to be hurt by the way some of his friends treated him, she warmed and opened her heart to him. The way George tried to describe how he looked at things differently and saw relationships that he'd never seen before reminded me of classical descriptions of the act of creativity in many fields. And it's a sad thing but true that we are all capable of concentrating harder and focusing on things to achieve more, but it's very difficult, and more often than not, we tend to take the easier road. Good thought-provoking flick.
48 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
very underrated
Gerardo26 August 2003
My favorite movies are: Pulp fiction, Run Lola Run, Seven, and A Clockwork Orange. So how in the world do I like Phenomenon? It is very well-made (i.e. lighting, direction, editing), excellente acting, and a very strong message. Give it a real chance, and you can't deny that it is at least good. I personally gave it a 9 out of ten, and I'm rarely that generous.
56 out of 71 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Best movie of the year (1996)
When I saw this movie in the theater, I was on a first date with a nice lady. However, she appeared to not be moved by the movie and showed no emotions at all, not even one tear. Seeing as how this movie is a real tear jerker, I thought she was not my kind of women. I have seen this movie about 10 times (or so) and never tire of it. Absolutely wonderful. Great casting, writing, directing and acting. Everyone involved is at their very best! Truly a "must see" movie. John Travolta was superb here and Kyra Sedgewick was at her very best! This movie is pure magic. It made me cry happy and sad tears. Truly a remarkable achievement. Enjoy.
53 out of 73 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
This will forever be my favorite John Travolta movie!
This movie shows John Travolta at his best. I think his performance here should have been nominated for an Oscar. What a lovely, powerful film. It's a paean to all the geeks in the world. George is clearly beloved by his fellow residents, but after he sees THE LIGHT, he becomes a misfit because of the changes in him. Those changes mean he becomes an insider, a stranger in a strange land. He becomes even more precious than he had been in the first 11 minutes of the film. He is at once bewildered and amazed at the changes in him. He is fascinated by every aspect of the world, and the viewer goes willingly on the journey with him. I have probably seen this movie ten times since its release in 1996. I will always regard this film as my favorite John Travolta movie and my favorite Kyra Sedgwick movie.
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
the magic of energy in everything and everyone
reinaldsfillemz21 January 2003
Phenomenon is a story about energy that is in everything and everyone. It's a very subtle and philosophical film that expresses more than meets your senses. It goes right for your heart and stays there. One might argue that it is a very "sugarsweet" tale of the things that make life (worthwhile), but there is so much more to it. The heart of the matter is that nothing goes to waste in the universe. Everything is on it's way to somewhere all the time. Energy will manifest itself without getting tired. Things, bodies, thoughts, even love, are all vessels that are secondary to the spirit that drives them. This sounds all very vague and maybe even religious-like. But indeed some things are hard to explain. Questions are often a waste of time. So don't ask where all this energy originates from. Phenomenon will not provide the answer, at least it is not pretentious in that direction because the makers realize that the human-mind is unfit to grasp this in the first place. Phenomenology is the philosophical school that investigates how things appear in the world. The film shows that it is often slightly or profoundly different from how it looks at first hand. I enjoyed the simple way of presenting this very complicated message that matters to all of us and everything else too.
40 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Highly, highly recommended love & life story with a twist
geer-93 July 2008
I simply LOVE this movie. A celebration of life to be enjoyed & inspired by. I feel sorry for those who don't "get it" but that is their (huge) loss. I can only imagine the joy it must have brought to the director, screenwriter & musicians (wonderful soundtrack thanks Robbie Robertson) involved when they saw the final product. There are so many great "lines", so many great scenes. I've seen the movie about 6 times now and always am moved by the amazing performances of Travolta, Kyra, Whittaker & Duval. You guys were perfect! Definitely among my favorite all-time films. Thank you so much to all the above for making this gem of a movie.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Feel good factor in a box!
pretenama17 November 1999
Phenomenon is a brilliant movie. Although it has a sad ending, this really is the feel good factor in a box. John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forrest Whitaker and Robert Duvall exceed themselves in in their roles and gel together very well. I highly recommend this movie to anyone. Do not be deceived by the title or the case however, this is not another sci-fi beat 'em up movie. It is a romantic drama with a cast and soundtrack that comes together to make a very enjoyable 2 hours of viewing. It contains a unique formula that will make you laugh and cry. Very enjoyable indeed.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Everyone Should See This Movie!
REvans909225 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a wonderful movie about LIFE. The story is presented as a "fable" with Alien Intelligence replacing Aesop. Love and death are covered in a humorous and serious vein. The acting is superb. John Travolta is believable as a "small-time" townie. Reaffirms the belief that people want a person to remain the same despite obvious changes. That love is an important element in everyone's life...and death. Has a wonderful scene in which George is explaining death to two children (main characters in the film and wonderful actors). In this scene, he explains that an apple is on its' way to becoming something else. I love this film and plan to purchase it for my film library.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Sometimes you just gotta go with it
George Parker16 September 2003
"Phenomenon" is about a small town auto mechanic (Travolta) who experiences something he can only describe as being "light" and suddenly has peculiar powers such as being able to learn to speak Portuguese in 20 minutes or understanding Dianetics. At issue is, will these powers, which make him the object of fear and awe by the townsfolk, help of hurt his chances with his reluctant love interest (Sedgwick). An pleasant little folksy, Mayberry RFDish flick, "Phenomenon" sticks to the people story and doesn't go off into sci-fi-land as it conjures up the warm and fuzzies, takes a romantic turn with the best haircut & shave since "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway", and tries hard to deliver a message about what's important in life. Yes, the film gets a little sugary sweet but...okay, it gets a lot sugary sweet...but, if you go with it and don't fight it you'll be assured of a pleasant three star watch. Good stuff for sentimentalists. (B)
24 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Augmented Human Interest
dubnut12 August 2000
I'm not usually inspired to review your average hollywood fare, but I was moved by this film. Not only did it portray dramatic tension between one who is experiencing 'supernatural' awareness and their hokey, small-town friends, but Phenomenon also gains rank by being one of the first few films with a completely 'open mind.' I attribute its existence to the film Powder, which came out a few years ago, and I am honestly looking forward to more innovative dramas in a similar vein.

It will probably not become a classic, but it deserves to be seen in its time. Perhaps the honesty of this film will inspire other, greater filmmakers with more influence to change their ways and provide more thinking elements in their films.

Watch it with a loved one on a Saturday night.

A good alternative to show those boyfriends who are caught up in their own male-ness. Try this before plopping in Gone with the Wind. It may bridge the gap.
17 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Shot in the dark
ed_two_o_nine26 November 2009
Well I approached this movie with trepidation thinking this was going to be some pseudo babble about higher powers and higher beings. Instead I was pleasantly surprised without being blown away. Basically this is the story of George Malley (Travaolta) a small town mechanic who though an unexplainable phenomenon becomes able to function of a higher level, gaining the ability to process information like no other human being. This plays out affecting all his relationships and drawing attention from the wider world. There is lots to like here and Travolta is earnest enough, and maybe this is just me but I really struggle to accept him as a small town mechanic he is just not every day enough for me to carry of these sort of roles. But on the plus point he is supported by the ever wonderful Robert Duvall and Forrest Whittaker and his best friends. This has a good message at its core without being spectacular at anything. Would I watch it again. On a rainy day yes and preferably with my wife.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Reflections on a Phenomenon
ennyman5 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I recently watched the movie Phenomenon again. For those who haven't seen it, John Travolta plays George Malley, the central character, a somewhat slow-witted nice guy who has a strange experience that awakens his consciousness and begins to hyperactivate his mind. In short, he becomes a phenomenon.

The movie does a wonderful job of presenting George's struggle as he seeks to understand what is happening to him. His friends, however, are equally befuddled and the unanswered questions that arise from their own insecurities cause misunderstanding, pain and rejection. It's almost as scary to know a phenomenon as to be one.

In my opinion it was a good story well told. Like all good stories, it unearthed regions of my own soul, areas I have mined before and will mine again because I believe their are still some precious stones to uncover there.

It is a life theme to which I often return. Are we not each a phenomenon in our own way? What is the meaning of my life? What are my unique gifts? Where has my power come from from? And how much of it is unused, undeveloped, unactivated.

We use so little of our strength, our psychic powers, our capabilities. We choose, instead, to live in a dark, dull, ill-lit corridor called 'life', a cramped hallway with narrow walls, yellowed, peeling wallpaper, moldy and stifling. Windowless and without wind. No unpredictable weather. And we wonder why it bores us, why we've lost our passion.

John Updike made the observation that there are Four Life Forces: Love, Habit, Time and Boredom. Love and Habit are powerful, giving short term energy and stability to our lives. Time has a more long term grinding influence. But Boredom, the great leveler, is a prison that captures us subtly. When boredom becomes a habit, life passes us by.

In this film, George Malley sees the wonder of this passing phenomenon we call life. His becomes obsessed with embracing it... before it does indeed escape him.

Nice supporting cast, especially Ms. Sedgewick and Forrest Whittaker.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Brings tears to my eyes
fsu089 February 2008
I am not a very emotional guy, but every time I watch this movie, something hits that emotional nerve and I get teary eyed.

The plot is not very plausible, however, the actual issue (which is discovered later in the movie) is and because of that, the way the entire movie is laid out and comes together at the end is truly something special. It's worth it to sit down with your family and watch together, or just to watch it with a loved one. Don't be afraid to bring out a tissue, because it is very possible that the tears might just start flowing. Director Jon Turteltaub does a fantastic job showing what love can do and the tremendous effect it has on humans.

Highly recommended. 9 out of 10.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
This movie is special
renu81218 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I normally don't get choked up during a movie, but I happened to see this movie after my father had passed, so it affected me. This movie is about a lot of things: about the extraordinary happening to the ordinary (George Malley's "event" and his newfound powers), unconditional love (the love of Lace), friendship (George with Doc & Nate), and tolerance (the ignorance and fear of the townspeople and the Feds). As George said in the movie, "It's all about possibilities"---and in this movie it's about romance, potential and the dance of life amongst all things. John Travolta (as George) delivers a disarmingly charming performance, and Robert Duvall (as Doc) displays a warmth and affection for his friend George. Forrest Whitaker (as Nate) is masterfully understated as the faithful friend who is the recipient of George's manipulation (the "translation" scene) and Kyra Sedgewick (as Lace) is the love of George's life. The inquisition scene with Brent Spiner was funny without being trite or serious---you feel George's frustration as he is treated like a lab rat. Every time I see this movie, I see new layers I haven't noticed before. Director Jon Turtletaub did a terrific job with this cast without being preachy. Highly recommended!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of phew movies that makes me cry.
Monoke30 May 2002
The acting by John and Kyra is excellent. Their love for each other is very convincing and is why this movie speaks to me so well. I love the mood the film brings. The music and the direction makes me calm. This movie truly is an experience.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Learning...
b6927 January 2004
This is movie with an imense emotional load. It's a lesson to all of us who think on quiting something... The character whose interpreted by John Travolta (beautifully played, in my honest opinion) acts as a teacher to all of us, and the subject teached is LIFE... The character shows the imensity of things we can do with our life, and shows also what friends are all about...

In my honest opinion a must see of the drama category! Utterly recommended.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Phenomenal!
emswan200413 September 2010
A very important movie. It attempts to express the power we all have within us. It also shows how often people chose not to use it.

It's an excellent script, very well executed. John Travolta was an excellent choice for the part, as are the other cast members; everyone gives their best. I could say more, but I'd rather not spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen it. It speaks to the heart and the spirit inside us.

See it. Listen to it. Think about it. Then see it again and think about it some more. Perhaps you can find something in it that speaks to you. I highly recommend it.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the most heart warming movies I've seen
robbh381113 September 2009
This movie had a profound effect on me in several ways. First it forces you to look at those in your life whom you truly love. It makes you think about and appreciate your every day life with them because this movie makes you realize you could lose them at any time. The loss of George was just so very real and hit home on a personal level and made me realize how much I truly love my wife. The relationship with Kyra Sedgewick and scene where she cuts his hair and shaves him is one of the most romantic I believe I've ever seen in any movie. That's high praise from me, because normally I am not a Travolta fan. He's played so many evil characters that you begin to think of him as one. But what a fantastic job he did in this movie. In my mind his performance in this film made him a top actor.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
..a simply moving tale..
fimimix30 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Phenomenon" is a tale for everyone.

Restricting work-schedule; not watching TV; not going to theaters - all of these left me unaware that John Travolta ("George Malley") was still making movies. I guess I just wasn't ready to accept that pretty-boy Travolta just didn't have the talent to make anything but the same genre of film that made him a star. Was I wrong !

This movie has definitely made me a BIG Travolta fan. I enjoyed "Blow Out", but didn't realize it was one of a chain of movies that Travolta was making. Now that I am aware of his range of acting-abilities - everything I've seen, so far, is so easily projected - I'll be on the look-out for all of his films.

Many other users have detailed the story this movie tells - thank heavens it has one ! "George" was simply "George" - when incidents happen to us that change our personna, other people also change the way they think of us. I'd feel the same way if one of my buddies started acting differently, and showed much more intelligence than I knew he possessed. Kyra Sedgewick ("Lace Pennamin") was unknown to me, so I had no way to judge her performance, but certainly enjoyed it. Again, simplicity, not a lot of unneeded drama. Forest Whitaker ("Nate Pope") was stellar in his portrayal of the few friends who could tell something unusual was happening to his buddy, as was Robert Duvall's ("Doc") portrayal. The entire cast was great - but, Travolta's simple deliverence of undramatic lines (and his brilliant smile and open face) make this movie the great entertainment, and uplifting message, it is.

Director Turtletaub got it all together to put scriptor Gerald DiPego's story on the screen. It is apparent that all who played in the movie enjoyed their work - all of us should have no reason not enjoy their efforts. As many users urge, this is a film for the entire family and certainly would make for a romantic evening with a loved-one.

Desereves more than a "10"........
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Possibly The Best Performance of Travolta's Career
Elswet13 May 2007
I say, "possibly," because I will most likely always hold Staying Alive as the best Travolta work in the darkest part of my Baby Boomer heart, until the man dies. But were it not for my relentless love of Disco and that era, Phenomenon would undoubtedly take that spot.

John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick. An amiable, small town Joe is inexplicably transformed into a genius with telekinetic powers after seeing a bright light.

The simplicity of the synopsis would belie the complexity of this sociological examination of the fight or flight instinct coupled with the dynamics of the mob mentality. People fear what they cannot understand, and they hate what they fear. This work is an expose of that phenomenon.

But aside from all that, this is highly enjoyable, as you walk along with Travolta's character through the progression of his new-found talents. His performance here is beautiful. He fully embraces this character like he seldom has any other. He typically does well, but this was a total integration, which was wonderful to watch.

All in all, I found this film enlightened, even when the supporting characters were not.

It rates an 8.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed