50 Movies in 100 Day: The Philadelphia Experiment

January 23, 2013

The Philadelphia Experiment

Randomly decided via Netflix what film to watch, the idea of time travel and a military experiments gone wrong seemed like an entertaining idea.  But it ended up just being so so, it was like so many other political/military films, everything goes wrong, and instead of point to the people who might know, people go in the opposite direction and are very illogical.

The story starts around World War II when the government decides to test out a radar invisibility on a ship.  It ends up opening a time vortex, the other end opens up in 1984when they try another similar experiment.  Two shipmates close to the explosion end up being propelled forward in time.  Things aren’t as they remembered them.  One of them starts having episodes where the time power starts to cause him issues, he eventually gets pulled back to the Philadelphia.  His crew mate goes and tries to find his family and figure out what is going on.  Eventually he does the logical thing and tracks down the scientist who had done the experiment in the first place and finds that he has to travel back in time and turn off the machine on their end to save everything.  He does that and comes back to 1084 so he can spend time with the girl he fell for in the few days that he was there (and whom he had kidnapped).

This is an old film, well, 1984 so as old as I am, and it is just too illogical at so many points.  They don’t go to the military, they barely even try and contact them.  And after it goes wrong one time, they kidnap someone because clearly that will make everything better.  And when the military does track them down (well the one down, his friend had already gone back in time) he runs away from them again and tries to find his family.  I would in some ways compare it to Prometheus from this past year, something that wasn’t bad in theory, but ended up having too many major plot holes in it that they couldn’t get even close to covering up.  People doing the dumbest thing rather than the smartest, and while I realize that might be more accurate for some people, every single activity and action as the dumbest, not likely.

The acting in the film I would call typical 80’s horror acting, it isn’t all that great, probably has stronger cheese to it than anything.  None of the performances stick out and the cast doesn’t have any major actors of note.  It just ends up being a lot of forgettable performance.  Same with the direction, nothing sticks out all that memorably, it is pretty similar to special effects to Wrath of Kahn, the stuff that is a basis for a lot of what we see now, any sort of vortex, time portal anything like that, all has basis from this sort of old film styling because we know what it is without thinking about it anymore.

This is a film that I would recommend skipping, it definitely was an intriguing idea for a film, but like I said it pulled a few too many Prometheus-esque moments.  It has some hockey entertainment value but that is about it.  The best way to put it is that I enjoyed it for having seen it but beyond that, it isn’t something that an average movie viewer is going to enjoy all that much.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: C-

Overall Grade: D+


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