Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 21
  2. Negative: 11 out of 21
  1. While this is no quick-witted treat on a par with Mr. Levinson's ''Wag the Dog,'' it's a solid thriller with showy scientific overtones.
  2. Reviewed by: Sarah Kerr
    Levinson is terrific at claustrophobia. In fact, this doesn't resemble any of his previous films so much as it does his gripping TV series, "Homicide."
  3. The result is a run-of-the-mill fantasy, competently produced but disappointingly familiar, from its "Forbidden Planet" premise to the digital-clock countdown near the end.
  4. Reviewed by: David Kehr
    A choppy, incoherent science-fiction thriller that does no credit to its expensive cast. [13 February 1998, p. 57]
  5. If the writing and direction carry Sphere most of the way, the actors manage to bring it home.
  6. Don't trust the impression created by Sphere's intriguing trailers that it has much to do with the awe and terror of direct contact with an advanced alien intelligence.
  7. 40
    While the length and ridiculous finale are a drag, the only thing that stinks about Sphere is its pervasive boys-club snarkiness, especially since Stone is actually good. Levinson has always been a better director of men, but it would be nice if Attanasio could learn how to write a role for a woman that wasn't an embarrassment as well as an insult.
  8. The script is muddled and unsatisfying, as ponderous on its feet as its protagonists are in their heavy diving suits.
  9. Keeps you hanging on until the very last moment, not because it's scary, but because you can't believe that's all there is to it.
  10. 38
    A watered-down take on the sci-fi classic "Solaris," by Stanislaw Lem, which was made into an immeasurably better film by Andrei Tarkovsky.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Waterlogged trip to nowhere. [13 February 1998, p. 3D]
  12. 38
    By trying to satisfy every kind of viewer, it's possible that Sphere may end up pleasing no one.
  13. Filled with visual potential, yet Levinson can't tap it. He's just a whole lot more comfortable trying to tame the human software than the technical hardware.
  14. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The game cast does what it can -- it's a good thing Schreiber is naturally funny -- but the situation is hopeless. This is one wreck better left unexplored.
  15. Reviewed by: David Denby
    At the end of Sphere, the three principals -- Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharon Stone -- agree, for the good of humanity, to forget everything that has happened to them in the movie up to that point. This is a pact I can only rush to join, and with exactly the same motive.
  16. 30
    If you've ever wanted to see Queen Latifah fatally attacked by jellyfish at the bottom of the ocean, Sphere is the movie for you. If you're looking for more, you're not going to find it here.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrea C. Basora
    With the talent involved in Sphere -- director Barry Levinson, novelist Michael Crichton and actors Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson and Sharon Stone--how could it fail? Somehow, it does.
  18. 30
    Sphere, an unfathomable chowder of recycled science fiction and undersea thrillers, briefly bubbles with promise only to plummet into the murky depths. Weighed down by inconsistencies and pretensions, the tale founders like a stinky beluga.
  19. The film itself regresses, starting in the present and winding up with a cautionary ending that evokes the hokiest SF movies of the 50s.
  20. Stripped of the pleasures of terror, flattened of grandeur (with a tacked-on coda that fairly groans with storytelling defeat), the movie sinks from the weight of its own heavyhandedness.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Justin
    Jul 25, 2006
    Very well done. I read the book after watching the movie, and then I watched the movie again. The only reason I'm not giving this a 10 is because the movie was not very accurate with the book. Other than that, it was good. Full Review »
  2. StewartC.
    Mar 11, 2006
    at times the acting is poor but the rest of the time this is an intense thriller which is easily one of the cleverest and best sci-fi's.
  3. Apr 18, 2014
    I expected a lot from this movie considering how much I loved the novel. I would've given this a 10, if I watched half of the movie only. They altered the way the ending happened. I'm not gonna spoil it but they changed it in a way that viewers who have read the novel would obviously hate the ending. A good movie nevertheless, but I'm just a little bit annoyed with the ending. Full Review »