Mixed or average reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 25
  2. Negative: 6 out of 25
  1. 88
    So breathtaking, so beautiful, so bold in its imagination, that it's a surprise at the end to find it doesn't finally deliver.
  2. 75
    What Dreams May Come has the sensibilities of an art film placed into a big-budget feature with an A-list cast.
  3. 70
    Despite its numerous missteps and miscalculations, What Dreams May Come is often a powerful, affecting piece of filmmaking.
  4. Too bad. What dreams may come, indeed, when such enticing foreplay ends with a consummation devoutly to be missed.
  5. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    This is one of those failures that has so many near-great things that it almost gets by on guts.
  6. What Dreams May Come, based on a novel by Richard Matheson and directed by Vincent Ward, the New Zealand filmmaker noted for his skill at creating lavish cinematic dreamscapes, represents the uncomfortable collision of two ideas about filmmaking, one commercial, the other eccentrically, ambitiously dreamy.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A heaping serving of metaphysical gobbledygook wrapped in a physically striking package.
  8. There are a number of surprises in the idiosyncratic film, and one of its pleasures is the oblique and unchronological way in which Ward peels away the layers of the story, flashing backward and forward in time and jumping between Earth and the Beyond, separating his scenes with blindingly blank, white-out screens.
  9. So diaphanous it practically dissolves as you watch it.
  10. This visually inventive fantasy paints the wide screen with colorful effects, but its psychological and spiritual ideas rarely rise above "new age" fuzziness.
  11. Astonishing visualizations of the afterlife are coupled with a drawn-out allegory about communication between the living and the dead that becomes something of a trial to sit through.
  12. Reviewed by: Chris Gore
    What's so disappointing is that the film had so much potential as a concept. The story slowly degenerates into a plodding, sappy bore.
  13. Like most dreams revisited with eyes wide open, this one's content dissolves into a transparent puddle of inchoate thoughts and predictable iconography.
  14. Watching it is like being in a room with a couple locked in a torrid embrace. It might be fun for them, but what's in it for everyone else?
  15. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Weds an epic, sometimes visionary, depiction of the afterlife to a script and story with fewer psychological layers than the average Hallmark card.
  16. 50
    An effects vehicle disguised as a metaphysical meditation (or a metaphysical meditation disguised as an effects vehicle?), this strikingly unimaginative 1998 movie contains visuals that can barely assert their niftiness amid the vacuous themes.
  17. 40
    The insidious influence of too much therapy permeates this misguided and very long picture.
  18. 40
    A bottomless trough of mystic swill, is too confused to even fulfill the paradigm's most basic requirements.
  19. Reviewed by: Jeff Giles
    A noble but supernaturally dull movie.
  20. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    By the movie's numbingly predictable end, the notion of a visually unleashed cinema seems like a monstrous mistake -- we've handed over the atom bomb to the Teletubbies!
  21. 30
    What a letdown that Vincent Ward, who gave us a fabulous gift with Map of the Hu-man Heart, has made this big old tub of schmaltz.
  22. Directed by Vincent ("A Map of the Human Heart") Ward, who is either a genius or a crackpot, and derived from a long-ago novel by Richard Matheson, the film is overproduced and underpopulated, with either characters or ideas.
  23. Reviewed by: Bruce Diones
    Though director Vincent Ward used his special-effects budget well -- there are some stunning impressionistic moments -- the film is as gooey and sticky as an overcooked marshmallow.
  24. 25
    How can a film look so radiant and be so hollow?
  25. Reviewed by: David Armstrong
    A scary example of bad movies happening to good people.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 2 out of 11
  1. Sep 10, 2011
    I could not follow this mixed up movie. The depictions of heaven and hell showed heaven to be as depressing as hell, some place no one would want to be. I finally just turned the movie off since I got absolutely no enjoyment out of it, glad it was free. The only thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the beautiful home this couple lived in. That was all. Full Review »
  2. Sep 8, 2013
    BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Any critic that have it less than 9 is a heartless cold soul.
    So much beauty/pain/love all together in one!!
    I cry every
    time. Only downfall is you need tissues for this movie, it's a sad film for the most part. Full Review »
  3. Aug 29, 2012
    The main thing about this movie are the visual effects, which are awesome for the year 1998! Heaven and hell are shown in a subtle way, which is very interesting and really memorable. The actors are disappointing and the story is predictable. But it's touching and good picturized from this great book! All in all, it's good but could've been way better! (I liked the alternative ending on the special DVD better - look for Wikipedia if you want to know what it is!) Full Review »