Brainstorm (1983)

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Brainstorm (1983)

Post  BoG on Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:14 pm

I give this one props for trying something unusual - when I saw this in the theater, the curtains would part wider to accommodate the 70mm  film process for the virtual reality scenes, an idea of director Douglas Trumbull to lend something 'more' to an otherwise conventional film. The story involves a new hi-tech invention, developed by a husband-wife team (Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood) working for a corporation headed by Cliff Robertson.  It's a gizmo that, placed on a person's head, can record the experiences of the person; if then placed on another person's head, that person will experience the same, as if these are their own experiences.
In essence, this is a direct transference of experience from one person to another. The commercial potential is obvious: people can experience things - thrilling, wild things - without having to leave the comfort of their home, or even their chair.  But, the potential for abuse is revealed soon after: a co-worker records his sexual experience and another older co-worker puts this on a continuous loop. Later, the military makes it plain that this would be an effective tool of torture, for interrogations. Walken's young son falls victim to this. Finally, another co-worker (Louise Fletcher) records her own death, leading to the most provocative possibilities of this new invention.
The weakness of this film is apparent at the end - rather than suggesting that a Pandora's Box has been opened, it's rather hinted that the main characters have placed a lid on it  - very unlikely.  The very last scene is ambiguous and a cop-out: after Walken experiences the afterlife, his only response to his wife is a goofy expression, a giggle and a remark of "look at the stars" - did he mean other galaxies?  What..?  Walken is the main weakness of this film; he shows that he's just not cut out for certain leading roles. His quirks and twitches distract from the story instead of enforcing it.  Wood is fine as usual, as are Fletcher and Robertson. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Brain Trivia:
Natalie Wood died in 1981, having completed most but not all of her role in the film. The film's release was delayed for about two years.
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