Bruce Joel Rubin
One of the most
ambitious but least successful films in the early 1980s sci-fi wave that
dealt with brain research and/or telepathy in some way or form. William
Hurt had tried his luck in the not too effective
a couple of years prior, before David Cronenberg offered a more visceral
(obviously) with his Scanners and followed up with the intriguing
The Dead Zone.
The latter was Christopher Walken's good performance in the 'psychic
sci-fi' sub-genre of 1983, as Brainstorm finds him in one of his
tackiest performances. The reason might very well be Douglas Trumbull
who clearly devoted his time to the visuals in this projects. These are
technically impressive, but looks invidiously like a bad 2001 copy in
the lacklustre finale. Until then, we've been presented a fairly
interesting premise in which a team of scientists discover a way to
record and play back sensory experiences. The customary power struggle
between the idealistic scientist and the cynical authoritarians seems
worn and unmotivated, and the film's narrative progress gets stuck as
Trumbull concentrates on effects - including a completely ridiculous
scene towards the end in which the machines get back at the humans.
Thirty years prior, that might have been a relevant cautionary message,
but in this otherwise ambitious film, it falls completely flat.