Bomb Rating: 

If director Barry Levinson likes to listen to people talk then he should give them something interesting to say. Every one of the people in this film is supposed to be a genius of some sort, yet none of the dialogue -- outside of technobabble -- reflects any innate intelligence. Close your eyes during this film and you'd have a hard time telling Dustin Hoffman apart from a chimp by what he says. The lone instance of interesting dialogue happens only when the characters inhale some helium first.

The four people summoned to a mysterious event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), biochemist Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), mathematician Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson) and astrophysicist Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber). They join Mr. Barnes (Peter Coyote) and travel down to the bottom of the ocean to investigate the wreckage of an alien spacecraft.

None of the films of Michael Crichton's books has been anywhere near as good as their literary counterparts and since their literary counterparts are nothing more than formulaic hack fiction, that's not saying much. "Sphere" is no exception. They make these films for people who are too stupid to read even hack fiction.

For most of the movie I was trying to figure out who came up with the idea that Dustin Hoffman was a suitable leading man for action films. Supposedly he was capable of saving the world and boffing Rene Russo in "Outbreak," and in this film he's capable of saving the world and boffing Sharon Stone -- although Sharon's character is slightly berserk, so perhaps there's a partial explanation. Chalk it up to the magic of Hollywood -- with a little help from advanced digital effects and a three-foot stepladder.

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