Review

SPHERE - Review

Published at: Feb. 13, 1998, 7 a.m. CST by headgeek

Saw Sphere. Kinda liked it. A flawed movie, but I had fun with it. But first as usual I'll tell ya about how my day was, and where my head was at.

Woke up this morning with the British on my doorstep. I believe they were the Daily Telegraph, and they had a scheduled appointment. I was groggy, you see I had been up late the night before trying desperately to respond to as many emails as possible, but with so many to answer there was no way to answer them all. I'd like to say I'm very sorry if you don't get a response, I really do try to answer as many as humanly possible, unfortunately unless I had a staff of 5 or so I can't answer them all. I tend to get between 500 to 1400 emails a day. It is an awesome amount of reading, and I do read them all, thank god most are "Harry I love you" or "Harry you lardass!!!" I can't imagine what it would be like to go through a massive amount of LONG emails.

The British wanted to do an interview then a photo shoot. After about an hour and a half of the interview they asked me about moving to L.A., and I told them never. My plan is to move the film makers here to Austin, along with Stan's Donuts across from the Mann Village in Westwood. I then began to go into precise detail about Stan's Donuts. The weight, texture as your tongue pushes the ever so delicious candied bread filled with bits of delightful cinnamon apples into the roof of your mouth. The orgasmic joy that crosses your face as you chew and chew. Ahh man, I'm getting hungry right now. And it worked on the Brits too. Pretty soon they were squirming and starving for food. You see the only meal they had on their schedule was the nast American Airlines doggy chow. So when I had them take my Dad and I to Threadgill's they were pleased indeed.

They ordered what I ordered, figuring that I knew what I was doing. (I think this is one of them judging the book by it's cover things) The food comes out and the woof it down fast as could be. We all get stuffed as could be. The owner, Eddie Wilson, comes over and talks with me for a while, I've known him since I was a wee tot hanging out and jamming in the Armadillo World Headquarters back when Austin was even cooler. He wants me to draw my head on a table at his beer garder, or outdoor super tables, or something like that. When Eddie leaves we explain that his daughter is Gabrielle... Xena's faithful partner. The Brits do one of them eyepopping bits where they just shake their heads in disbelief. Heh heh heh. Love doing that to these press people.

When the waitress asks if we want dessert the Brits begin shaking their heads no. And the waitress goes off to get the ticket. I had to act quick. So I point out the picture of John Travolta on the wall, and tell them the story of how Threadgill's created the most devilish evil godsend of a pie in the history of the known world. It is called Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, and is quite simply the most delicious mouthgasm you can have. I know it sounds about as appetizing as fried feathered chicken covered in a Mississippi Mud sauce curdled on the fifth day of existence.

My campaign worked and it was soon desserts for everyone. Lots of mmmmmmmmmmsss, aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsssssss, ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhsssssssssssssss.... Great food.

The Brits drop me off at my domicile and I get ready for SPHERE. You see ROBOGEEK was supposed to come get Dad, Dannie and I. We were waiting.. waiting.. waiting.. and waiting for Robogeek. Dad and I begin thinking that perhaps he forgot his wallet, or couldn't find his keys, or was watching Titanic somewhere. I can't believe how obsessed he is with the film. I love the film, but he is in utter love with the film. When he talks of it, you can tell he wants to go back in time, grab the steering wheel, steer away from the iceberg, throw Leo off the bow of the ship and take Kate down to the buggy mobile in the hold, and spend the rest of the trip in polite conversation with Rose. So finally I call Robogeek. He claims to have been calling me, but I was online and didn't hear it once, so I don't know if this is true. He says his vehicle has a flat tire, and can't go.

Dammit! I begin calling alternates, trying to get people in place for the journey, but noone is home, answering machines, busy signals, endless ringings. ERRRRRRR!! I don't want a ticket to go to waste. Somehow, someway I must get someone. I page RoRo, he calls back. He says he can go. Yippee!!!

We begin driving out to the damn theater approximately 2000 miles away. I hate this theater, it's not THX ceritfied, it does have nifty stadium seating, but it doesn't have a bright bulb in the projector, the doors are under the screen so everytime some moron wants to pee or feed their face you see a shaft of light blinding you, the concept of double doors obviously never crossed their minds when building this thing. Morons! The lot of them.

So as we are driving the pathetic excuse for an automobile we find that it is lunging forward like Bruce Campbell drug by his possessed hand. Inch by inch we precede to the theater. Cars honking, people yelling. My Dad gives him that old man grumpy face that he holds the patent on. Walter Matthau can't touch him. People begin turning off the main road as his scowl frightens them into hiding. After about 4 hours we arrive at the theater. We had to refill the gas tank 4 times, add water twice, put in 13 pints of oil, and change 6 flat tires. I hate this theater. Though I feel my anger should be directed at the P.O.S. Van I have.

We arrive and of course the Line People are there. Yup, no matter how long between films they are there, never flinching, never moving, they are always in line. It's George and Jan and Sam and Ron and about a dozen others that my sleep deprived brain can't recall. We talk about the Oscars, about movies I saw and heard about at Sundance. We talk about Amistad and Spike Lee, we talk about Prince of Egypt, we talk about Quest For Camelot and exactly how bad it will suck. Everyone asks about Armageddon, whose ever-ticking countdown clock makes these lines much longer than they used to be. You constantly watch the damn thing ticking down. In fact someone sent me the Armageddon Desktop Countdown clock... right now it's at 137days 16 hours 51 minutes 12 seconds. God, I hate that thing. tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick.... STOP IT. YES THERE IT ISSSS, BENEATH THE FLOOR LAYS HIS STILL BEATING HEAAAARRRRRT. Oops, Poe-flashback.

About 10 minutes before the line begins moving Martin arrives. He's the super cool artist that has done such great work as the Too Much Coffee Man color work (Shannon Wheeler draws it, but let's not get into a Chasing Amy debate) We begin talking film, his baby, I got him with the ol trusty, "What's that..." he looks down as I draw my finger from his shirt to his nose as I say, "Gotcha" Martin stumbles back laughing. I get the idea that noone has pulled this on him in about 15 years. Heh heh heh, the ol standards never stop amazing me.

The line begins moving in, so we go in. We take our seats and the line person Randa is sitting next to me. After awhile the cool lady with the dude who gave me my Laserdisc player comes up. Cool. It sure is nice to see faces you kinda remember from drunken rum punch parties. We begin waiting for the movie, which should have been starting in about 5 minutes, buuuuuuuuuuut.... it doesn't. Seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours as the film is delayed for a half hour. They try to sedate us, but we know this is some sort of incompetence perpetrated by stupid people. When the trailers finally start well... here ya go....

First trailer was CITY OF ANGELS the remake of that terrible Wim Wenders film called Wings of Desire. Robogeek made me say that. Just kidding, I'm just torturing him. He loves the film, as everyone does. So what do you do to a universally loved masterpiece? You remake it... with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage and Denis Franz. Trailer looks pretty, my sister is dying to see it, but when Denis Franz asks Cage, "You want help?" the screen goes black as retardo deep voice goes, "Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaauuuuu tooooooooodooooowwwwwwww fuuuuuuutttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppptttttttttttttttuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" then elevator music and slides come on. For five minutes the crowd is stirring. Sounds of mutiny. An angry mob forming. Then the CITY OF ANGELS trailer resumes. I don't know, but this doesn't look bad. I mean some remakes you just know instantly are horrible looking, but this ain't one of those.

Then the trailer for DANGEROUS BEAUTY comes on. What a beautiful trailer. Makes you want to live there.

Then there is this real weird, what I call the "WARNER BROTHERS LOVES YOU" trailer. Basically it is an aerial shot of the studio lot with film images running across the top and bottom. It's a bit weighted with the new Warner's stuff, not near enough 30's and 40's Warners, which was when that studio was truly an awesome force in great filmmaking. Alas, the current regime has wasted and squandered the legacy. They allow good scripts to be stomped on, they insist on 'Corporate filmmaking' and they have reduced the studio to this trailer, which is basically begging the audience to watch their movies. Sigh...

Then there is the U.S.MARSHALLS trailer. Well, it's good to see that firing Chris Pula didn't accomplish a single good thing. This trailer tells you and shows you basically all the major twists and turns. It tells you EVERYTHING about the movie. Worst of all it shows the audience (or at least convinces the audience) that this is a self-derivative sequel to the Fugitive without Harrison Ford. This is kinda sad, because I know my reports from the test screenings have been pretty good, and a badly constructed trailer works against the production.

Then some sort of Sperm slide begins mutating across the screen as...

the Cinemark Cats Song begins pounding. A full theater of angry cartoon cat hating theater goers burn holes into 'front row joe'

Finally the movie begins, approximately 45 minutes after when it was supposed to. The mishandling of the screening has created a disgruntled audience. I meanwhile am happy as can be, because I'm out of my cave (my bedroom)

Then we begin hearing the cries of an infant. The audience begins moaning. I hear someone say, "Just kill the little bastard" Ahhhh.... America.....

Anyway... I liked SPHERE. It's not a great movie, and yes it does try to be. I think after Andromeda Strain and Great Train Robbery, this is the best adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel. You see there is a fundamental problem with this novel in particular. A lot of Crichton fans don't like it, same as Eaters of the Dead. And then there are those that like both of those. I'm one of them. I love the novels for Sphere and Eaters of the Dead. I have a blast with the issues brought up, and the imagery they conjure in one's mind. However, that just isn't going to do it for most readers. Most will feel that the film is confusing, convoluted and ultimately unsatisfying. Just like most of the viewers that have seen it the last several days. It's running about 3 to 1 (negative to positive). But I like SPHERE. Why? Because I thought the first hour and a half were magnificient. The story just kept shooting forward, and I felt compelled to go with it. My sister was seen griping her seat in terror (she's 16 and raised on scary films, but still a wuss).

Samuel L Jackson is just a godsend. And once again Hoffman fails to create a great character, but because Sam the man is there, you tend to not notice Hoffman. Don't get me wrong, but I was brought up with Hoffman at his finest, and when watching SPHERE you see that Jackson is on coast, but still miles up the road from Hoffman. When he is sleeping, he's cool, when he's reading a book he's cool, when he sings in the shower he's cool, but when he talks and delivers lines... he is SUPER COOOOOOL.

Sharon Stone does a pretty good job. Liev Schreiber... where on earth did this guy come from. I disliked him in Scream 2, Phantoms and now Sphere. Stop casting him in my genre movies.

But I liked this movie. It's hard to discuss the film, because there are quite a few spoilers, but I swore to yall, I wouldn't go into spoilers in my reviews, but suffice to say if you like the film after 2 hours, you should like the film, but some won't. Some will scream, "What the hell was that?" after the conclusion. I highly recommend reading the novel before seeing the film, it will help you with some.. ummm... perceptions.

Anyway, it ain't great, but I felt it was worth watching. Some of you will love it, some will like it, most will hate it I think. We'll see.

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