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George At 

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There are great movies adapted from the novels of one of my favorite authors Michael Crichton like "Jurassic Park", "Westworld" and "The Great Train Robbery".

There are good adaptions too, like "Rising Sun" and "Disclosure".

Surely one of the absolute worst is the confused 1998 mess SPHERE.

Dustin Hoffman stars as Norman the psychologist, Sharon Stone is a former patient and lover (we're already stretching credibility here), Samuel L. Jackson and a very young Liev Schrieber are also aboard and wasted.

The concept is clever. A massive alien spacecraft has been discovered far below the ocean's surface, covered with 300 years worth of coral growth.

Hoffman has suggested this group to be the advance team for possible first alien contact.

They arrive, meet and chat and are soon inside the craft, facing a massive, golden, perfect shimmering sphere inside the craft.

Like most of the film in general, the sphere says nothing and does nothing, just sits there waiting for something to happen.

Director Barry Levinson (Diner, Rainman) seems lost, with a story that goes everywhere and nowhere, with failed attempts at humor and horror jammed in where there's a gap (and there are LOTS of gaps here).

Hoffman is a great actor, but not here. Stone is dull and Jackson spends half the film sleeping, not a great choice.

The book wasn't one of Crichton's best, but it was at least coherent.

Hoffman disowned the film at its release, saying it wasn't ready and the story wasn't complete. Amen to that.

Dumb, incoherent and lifeless, SPHERE is a big round Zero in the entertainment department and gets an F.

Watch for Huey Lewis in the opening scene as a helicopter pilot taking Hoffman to the site of the discovery. Huey was smart enough to get out of this one in the first 3 minutes. Wish I would have.....

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