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Brainstorm

By Jeff Shannon

Brainstorm is a fascinating but frustrating film, simply because it dabbles in greatness but fails to develop the fullest implications of its provocative ideas. It's a visually dazzling film with outstanding special effects; directed by veteran effects creator Douglas Trumbull, of 2001 fame; but too caught up in marvels of hardware and software at the expense of its characters, who remain interesting but dramatically two-dimensional. The story involves the development of a headset recorder that can replay one person's experiences--even their emotional states--into the mind of another. The device obviously invites corporate or military exploitation, and Cliff Robertson plays a ruthless executive determined to tap into its lucrative potential. But when a scientist (Louise Fletcher) records her own death experience with the device, along with incriminating evidence, the technology's inventor (Christopher Walken) must unlock the mysteries of his colleague's suspicious demise and the very nature of death itself. Punctuated by remarkable sequences from the perspective of those who use the mind-expanding headset, Brainstorm dares to reach for ambitious themes and innovative movie experiences, and that alone makes it eminently worthwhile. But with a conclusion that too literally interprets the afterlife experience with conventional angelic imagery, and a disappointingly thin role for Natalie Wood (who died while the film was still in production), the film strives for profundity and settles instead for an inspirational light show.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Douglas Trumbull

Stars: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson, Joe Dorsey, Jordan Christopher

Released: September 30, 1983

Availability: DVD VHS CD


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