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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:

A Barry Levinson film 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

The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Dustin Hoffman; and four Oscar nominees: Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah, and Huey Lewis. See more »

Goofs

When Jerry first makes contact, he transmits in code : "MY NAME IS JERRY". Later, the code is revealed to have been mistranslated and the message reads: "MY NAME IS HARRY" If the letters H, E, J, and A in the simple letter/number substitution code were wrong, the first message would have read: "MY NEMA IS JERRY". Also, the entire series of conversations they had would have exhibited the same error, yet none did so. (HAPPY would have been JEPPY, ALL = ELL, etc.) See more »

Quotes

Barnes: Oh, you are a hell of a woman. I wish I knew you in the old days. Norman told me you were...
Beth: [defensive] Norman told you what?
Barnes: Let's put it this way - that if Jerry could read your mind, he'd be bored with ours!
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

References South Pacific (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

Horn Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major, K.447
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Vienna Mozart Ensemble; Herbert Kraus, Conductor
Courtesy of LaserLight Digital
By Arrangement with Source/Q
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The power to actualize your thoughts and fears
9 May 2015 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

"Sphere" (1998) is about the discovery of a huge spacecraft at the bottom of the ocean and the humming, maybe living, sphere found inside. A team of scientists are sent down to investigate – a psychologist (Dustin Hoffman), a mathematician (Samuel L. Jackson), a biochemist (Sharon Stone) and an astrophysicist (Liev Schreiber). Two notable characters at the station on the ocean floor are played by Peter Coyote and Queen Latifah. Mystery and (some) horror ensue.

Based on Michael Crichton's novel, "Sphere" intermixes elements of other scif-fi flicks, like "Forbidden Planet" (1956), "Solaris" (1972), "Alien" (1979) and "The Abyss" (1989). Like those movies, the plot involves a small group of people who are isolated from society and encounter the unknown. The theme is the actualization of one's thoughts and fears and the potential for good or, more likely, bad that comes with it. Are we mature enough as a species to handle such power?

Of course, we already have this power, just not to the degree depicted in the story (seemingly). Anything important that we do, whether productive or destructive, is formulated within first and then manifests without, like a song or a book or a loving relationship. If we truly knew the power at our disposal we'd hardly be able to sleep at night we'd be so excited!

The first hour or so is quite good because the film definitely makes you feel like you're at the bottom of the ocean. The mystery is engaging and the actors formidable. Unfortunately, some parts of the second half don't work so well. The sea snake scene, for instance, is really weak, particularly the way Stone's character responds to the situation. It seemed more like a dream than reality and maybe that's what the director (Barry Levinson) was shooting for, a cross between reality and nightmare, but it comes across wrong. Lame parts like this destroy the illusion of the movie. As far as the ending goes, it features tricky material that's not easy to pull off and the movie's only half-successful with it. The fact that it's somewhat successful is largely due to having great actors. They pulled it off.

Despite the rushed vibe of parts of the second half, the theme is great. This isn't a slasher-film-in-space, like "Alien," but is more thought-provoking, which isn't to say it's as good. However, there are some harrowing and creative aspects, like the jelly fish sequence.

While many lambaste "Sphere," it wasn't the box office dog you might think in light of the bad press. It made $37 million (in 1999 dollars) in the USA alone, which is hardly a clunker. The problem was that it cost twice that to make.

The film runs 132 minutes.

GRADE: B-

QUESTIONS ON THE THEME (***Don't read further unless you've seen the film***)

Why is it that the dark side of the human subconscious is empowered by the alien technology/entity? Why not the positive side? The four scientists (and the others) strike me as quality souls who pretty much have it together. While not perfect human specimens, they're strong people who have their phobias and destructive emotions under control. So why aren't their GOOD, PRODUCTIVE thoughts & desires manifested rather than the bad? I could see if the story took place in a prison and the characters were pieces of sheet, but that's not the case.

Also, who or what does the sphere represent? The Fountain of Life (Psalm 36:9)?


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