Barry Levinson directed this $100+ million adaptation of Michael Crichton's science fiction novel about the investigation of a half-mile-long spacecraft sitting on the South Pacific ocean floor. Government functionary Barnes (Peter… More Barry Levinson directed this $100+ million adaptation of Michael Crichton's science fiction novel about the investigation of a half-mile-long spacecraft sitting on the South Pacific ocean floor. Government functionary Barnes (Peter Coyote) assembles a crack scientific team -- psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), who wrote a presidential report on alien contact; biochemist Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), once involved romantically with Goodman; mathematician Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson); and astrophysicist Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber). After descending a thousand feet, they set up housekeeping at their underwater Habitat base, suit up, and enter the craft, finding evidence that it's a U.S. ship from the future. However, the craft's cargo of a shimmering, golden sphere is definitely alien. After Harry contrives to enter the sphere, Norman notes his odd behavior. When the Habitat computer system receives an email message from the sphere ("I am happy"), it's not long before the messages from this entity take a threatening turn ("I will kill you all"), triggering fears to surface along with violent attacks to the Habitat. The film is divided into chapters, such as "The Ride Down," "The First Exchange," and "The Monster." Shot on soundstages at the abandoned Mare Island Naval Shipyard (Vallejo, California), the effects combine animation, miniatures, prosthetics, animatronics, and digital images. Ed Asner reads the Sphere audiobook.
Consensus: Sphere features an A-level cast working with B-grade material, with a story seen previously in superior science-fiction films.