June 26, 2015
Review #718: Brainstorm.
Christopher Walken (Michael Brace), Natalie Wood (Karen Brace), Louise Fletcher (Lillian Reynolds), Cliff Robertson (Alex Terson), Alan Fudge (Robert Jenkins), Joe Dorsey (Hal Abramson), Jason Lively (Chris Brace), Jordan Christopher (Gordy Forbes), and Donald Hotton (Landan Marks) Directed by Douglas Trumbull.
Brainstorm deserves credit for its effects, which are still impressive, regardless of how old the movie is. Which is good, considering the rest of the movie isn't as impressive. Granted, the movie does have a creative premise: A research team creates a helmet that lets someone record their experience (such as racing a car, riding a horse - physically and mentally I might add) onto the device to be experienced later. Oh, and there's some evil management who want to make it militarized. I liked the movie more when it showed the helmet and what it does than the plot involving the company because it felt enjoyable and it felt less forced. The characters are fine, but this is one of those movies where the effects overtake the acting...which has been done before with other science fiction films, but it proves to be a distraction when the effects aren't chugging themselves out. I feel like the movie wants to just be about the helmet and one's experience with it instead of "nyah, we want the helmet for mind control!" Walken and Wood are at least enjoyable, though I wish Fletcher was given more time on screen. Robertson is just okay. Admittedly, the movie had a troubled production, in fact this movie was released nearly two years after Natalie Wood's death in November 1981, on a production break. After MGM tried to lock Trumbull out, the movie was finally let back into production, albeit with limited release and publicity, which ensued the movie's box office failure, and Trumbull has never directed a movie since. The movie was originally going to utilize Trumbull's Showscan process, which uses a quicker frame per second rate...but the cost of retrofitting theaters was too much for the studio. The movie does utilize a different ratio for the virtual reality scenes as opposed to the normal scenes (which is smaller), which is nice. It could be indicative of the future....someday. But until that day comes, it's an okay movie that had some troubled history.
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.