Metascore
35

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 21
  2. Negative: 11 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Sarah Kerr
    60
    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."
  2. 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.
  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. If the writing and direction carry Sphere most of the way, the actors manage to bring it home.
  5. Reviewed by: David Kehr
    50
    A choppy, incoherent science-fiction thriller that does no credit to its expensive cast. [13 February 1998, p. 57]
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. The script is muddled and unsatisfying, as ponderous on its feet as its protagonists are in their heavy diving suits.
  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. 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.
  12. 38
    By trying to satisfy every kind of viewer, it's possible that Sphere may end up pleasing no one.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    38
    Waterlogged trip to nowhere. [13 February 1998, p. 3D]
  14. Reviewed by: Andrea C. Basora
    30
    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.
  15. Reviewed by: David Denby
    30
    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. The film itself regresses, starting in the present and winding up with a cautionary ending that evokes the hokiest SF movies of the 50s.
  17. 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    30
    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.
  19. 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.
  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
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Justin
    Jul 25, 2006
    9
    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 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
    8
    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. Feb 3, 2015
    10
    I created a metacritic account when I saw the low score this movie received. This movie is great. Dustin Hoffman does a great job. SheronI created a metacritic account when I saw the low score this movie received. This movie is great. Dustin Hoffman does a great job. Sheron Stone great job. Liv Schreiber great job. And Samuel L. better job. Oh, and Queen Latifah's has a small part that's just there for icing on the cake. Its also pretty terrifying. This movie touches our deepest fears about the deepest portions of our oceans and our minds. Full Review »