• silverwheel

    I think Sphere is kind of unfilmable. It’s a little strange for Crichton in that it gets most of its conventional action scenes out of the way in the first half, killing most of the characters while doing so. The second half is, essentially, the three remaining characters realizing just what the Sphere is doing to them, and trying to get out despite their own hallucinations.

    This is the part where the movie really fails in comparison. In a book, it’s very easy to show someone’s internal monologue – just put it in italics. Film has a much tougher challenge depicting this; it can be done, but it requires a lot of work, and really can’t go back and forth nearly as quickly between the two. Film has to rely much more on dialogue, and since Sphere has such a crappy script, it devolves into circular conversation that boil down to “you went into the sphere and you’re crazy!” “No, you went into the Sphere and you’re crazy!”

    A haunting mood would have helped considerable, but there’s none of that to be found here. The ending is so unintentionally funny that it basically dares the audience to enjoy it.

    • I can see that being the case for the book. I don’t remember many of Crichton’s books being full of inner monologues and thoughts. But, the style would fit this subject matter, and it would key into my disappointments between the book and movie.

      When Hoffman picks up a copy of 20,000 Leagues and Jackson is already reading a copy, he has a look of horror but doesn’t relay his thoughts. We’re supposed to infer everything that look of horror means, complete with realization of what the sphere is doing. But, it all translates, uncharitably, to “Oh No! Another book!!”

      I agree that this is a big sticking point for the movie, and one which separates Sphere from Solaris, which manages to sell the subconscious process by not being a fast-paced thrilling thriller. Levinson doesn’t have the chops for subconscious, even if he does text and subtext well.

      The ending, though…wow man. I found this alternate ending, which is so much better than the original just by not having the sphere fly away. Still not perfect, but better.


      • silverwheel

        I like the way this alternate ending kind of implies that they all agreed to just not talk about it rather than literally forget. It was probably rejected for being too low key of an ending, but the official one is just garbage. It doesn’t even make sense – so what if the three of them forget about it when all those other people watch the damn sphere fly away (presumably back to its home planet, dying en route). There are many more people who also need to forget for this ending to make any sense. God, I’m actually getting angry just thinking about it.

        There are many nits to pick about the production design, but the failure to develop a memorable design for the sphere is the worst offender. I’ve read that Sphere had its budget cut before filming (with Levinson and Hoffman making Wag The Dog during the resulting production delay), and this probably crippled their chances of making a memorable object. When the titular sphere is rendered so cheap and unconvincing, it becomes quite hard to take anything seriously.

  • m mallo

    The end scene of Sphere, didn’t anyone see the reference to Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting? “Things” were given and then given back. The word hand or hands were mention 3 to 4 times. The reference goes by quickly, so watch for it.

  • M.C.S. ’81

    I think this movie had potential. The plot was intriguing, the characters were believable, and the movie had room for a sequel about what happened to the astronauts in the ship after they found the sphere, and how they died because of manifestations and the crew’s paranoia.