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Sphere (1998)

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A spaceship is discovered under three hundred years' worth of coral growth at the bottom of the ocean.

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writers:

Michael Crichton (novel), Kurt Wimmer (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,500 ( 1,400)
3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dustin Hoffman ... Norman
Sharon Stone ... Beth
Samuel L. Jackson ... Harry
Peter Coyote ... Barnes
Liev Schreiber ... Ted
Queen Latifah ... Fletcher
Marga Gómez Marga Gómez ... Jane Edmunds
Huey Lewis ... Helicopter Pilot
Bernard Hocke Bernard Hocke ... Seaman
James Pickens Jr. ... O.S.S.A. Instructor
Michael Keys Hall Michael Keys Hall ... O.S.S.A. Official
Ralph Tabakin Ralph Tabakin ... O.S.S.A. Official
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Storyline

1000 feet below the ocean, navy divers discover an object half-a-mile long. A crack team of scientists are deployed to the site in Deepsea Habitats. What they find boggles the mind as they discover a perfect metal sphere. What is the secret behind the sphere? Will they survive the mysterious 'manifestations'? Who or what is creating these? They may never live to find out. Written by Michael Hofer <fbci4@escape.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From the bestselling author of 'Jurassic Park' and 'The Lost World' See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action including some startling images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros.

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sphere See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,586,765, 13 February 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$37,020,277

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,100,000, 5 April 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the book, the sphere was supposed to be visualized as a "chrome colored ball bearing" with "grooved convolutions" that acted as a door opening so that people could enter. The movie originally had planned to use a sphere that had the same qualities (chrome ball bearing), but soon found out that if it was placed in a dark room, the reflection would look almost entirely black, and not as impressive. The Special Effects Designer and Director Barry Levinson eventually decided to go with a "champagne" colored sphere due to how it looked on-screen. See more »

Goofs

(at around 31 mins) When Beth is accessing the Spacecraft's computer "Unknown Entry Event" is readable when reflected off her helmet, it should be mirrored. See more »

Quotes

Harry: I forgive you, Norman. I forgive you! But I *don't* forgive you for Ted - he's a pain in the ass.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are cast over an invisible sphere. See more »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER ALERT: An alternate television edit has been shown with a simplified and more ambiguous ending that follows the shooting script; Harry warns them that the authorities are on their way to debrief them, and they will demand answers. The three survivors ready themselves to forget about their mission and the power they possess. Outside, a helicopter sets down. Subsequently, we see the three survivors being interviewed in a debriefing room after decompression, each shot individually against the same background. They react as if they're oblivious to anything going wrong in the Habitat, unaware of anything that happened to Ted, Barnes or the Sphere. The helicopter leaves, and the camera pans down to the ocean, where the Sphere supposedly still remains. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fear Factory: Cars (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Bali Ha'i
Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Samuel L. Jackson (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Great potential falls flatter and flatter as it goes...
10 October 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Sphere (1998)

Barry Levinson is one of those directors who has no interest in art, or in invention, or in pretension, either. And so his films sometimes hit a popular strain that makes them take off. He has some terrible misfires, for sure, but his best films ("Rain Man," "Sleepers") have people who you relate to, and who have to confront something extraordinary.

That was the idea here, based on a Michael Crichton novel (that should have been a heads up). The cast is headliner stuff. Dustin Hoffman is particularly convincing, Samuel Jackson plays a great type, and Liev Schreiber is sharp. Sharon Stone is a dull fourth. They bond, and realize they have things in common, in the first minutes of the film as they converge and go under water to check out an alien spaceship. Even after they are deep below the surface and beginning their unlikely exploration they make a viewer connect. As much as it borrows from "Alien" and "Aliens" this could have been a good film on its own terms. Even the talking computer/alien has its own edge compared to HAL.

What goes wrong is the plot itself, and not acting, or even directing, can overcome that. As it gets hairier, we need it to be more plausible, not less. Events get increasingly chaotic, so that action and loud noise drive some of the scenes. Subplots are continued but seem increasingly meaningless (at one point, Hoffman and Stone are rushing into the water in an absolute emergency and they start to chitchat about their distant failed love affair). And finally, as people die off and the menace becomes more ambiguous, the movie becomes completely ambiguous, and as a kind of escape valve, announces that any number of crazy thing we have been watching may or may not have been imagined by one character or another.

But what does that mean about the camera? Isn't there still a differentiation between cinema reality and one character's delusion? Or if these are global delusions including the viewer, shouldn't they do more than simply disorient us? Well, don't hang on for answers. Just hang on. An explosion (of course) caps it all off (why they didn't hit the disarm button isn't explained), and a final logical wrap up that avoids the time travel paradox is warm and fuzzy.


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