THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
and Eric Christmas
What's it about
A military experiment goes wrong and sends two WWII sailors into the 80s. How the hell the gonna get home? Well, thatís the movie.
Is it good movie?
For some reason I got this movie confused with Project X with Matthew Broderick. I kept waiting for Ferris to appear at some point, but I finally had to comes to terms that the dude just wasnít gonna show. Regardless, I knew I had heard of this 1984 sci-fi movie, remembering seeing it in video stores when they were still around. But I never rented the thing. So when I got the DVD and noticed that John Carpenter executive produced it, (who Iím a massive fan of) I got all excited, even if Iím 25 years or so late to the party.
However, The Philadelphia Experiment isnít what I prejudged it to be considering Carpenter attached his name to it. Thereís no synthesizer score. It doesnít end up being a remake of Rio Bravo (which nearly all Carpenter movies are and yes I know he just produced it), and the tone doesnít smell like something the Master of Horror would smell like. In other words, this isnít your typical sci-fi movie. It plays light, like made-for-TV special. Something the whole family can enjoy. Now thereís nothing wrong with that, but for some reason I need, I want science fiction to have dark overtones. It makes a movie feel like thereís something at stake. Like itís the world against your main character, and if they fail, justice or something can never be served. When itís light, it feels more like an adventure film. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just pure personal taste.
However, itís important to identify The Philadelphia Experiment as that: an adventure. We watch a lost WWII sailor, played by Michael Pare, attempt to adjust to 80ís, figure out how to get home, and pal around with Robocopís main squeeze (Nancy Allen). Itís your typical fish out of water story, but director Stewart Raffill does a great job of not overdoing it. Pareís reaction to everything is very subtle, which allows the humor to feel nature, and not forced. And thatís how I could describe the entire film. Itís easy going, never in your face, but alas, extremely likeable.
The idea of someone trapped in time obviously isnít anything new, but the navy element adds something, which brings me to the effects, which is perhaps my favorite element. Good god. Near the beginning when the ship is sent sailing into some other dimension, a wonderful piece of pseudo animation of the ship disappearing happens showing the creation of a vortex in time. Itís just dandy. The effects come and go as a temporal storm keeps appearing and reappearing. It doesn't happen a lot, but enough to remind the viewer that there's more than the adventure, there's the science too.
Video / Audio
Video: A Widescreen presentation.
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 Dolby Surround.
What The Philadelphia Experiment has going for it is a story, good acting, and horridly dated special effects. All of which makes for a pretty good flick.