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The Philadelphia Experiment(TV) (2012)
In 1943, a secret government project attempted to create a cloaking device that would make warships invisible. But during the first test, the USS Eldridge successfully vanished...and could not be found again. 70 years later, the Navy destroyer momentarily reappears on a Pennsylvania runway allowing the sole surviving crewman to escape and a local lawman to board. What is behind a sinister reactivation of the project? Where will the massive ship materialize next? And what will become of two men trapped in a time/space catastrophe?
For more about The Philadelphia Experiment and the The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray release, see the The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ryan Robbins, Gina Holden, Lauro Chartrand, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Paré, John Reardon
Director: Paul Ziller
» See full cast & crew
The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray Review
An experiment in better quality for the SyFy Channel.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 17, 2013
An old kinda-sorta cult favorite reborn? And on SyFy? Never! Well, maybe "never" in some parallel universe. No, it's the good old movie landscape cinephiles know and love (and loathe) so well, one with a dearth of creativity and a void in originality which is most obvious in theaters but also rather commonplace on the SyFy network. One of its newest films is the made-for-television remake of 1984's The Philadelphia Experiment, that film a decent enough little flick about time travel and World War II-era technological experiments blending together for a bit of fun escapist movie watching. The made for television re-imagining keeps the same basic structure, only fast-forwarded nearly two decades into the future. It, too, is a decent little time waster, particularly when viewed in the context not of the original but of the general SyFy landscape, on which it flourishes and even, sometimes, thrives compared to the competition. Sure, many of the usual negatives remain, but there are times when this The Philadelphia Experiment at least approaches and sometimes even surpasses the level of "serviceable." And to be sure, there have been far worse remakes of better movies released to theaters. Needless as this film may be in the grand scheme of things, at least the gap in quality between it and the original isn't wide enough to sail a destroyer through, well, not in real life, anyway.
An invisibility experiment seems to be an initial success, but the after-effect of a heightened energy field yields an unexpected consequence: the sudden return of the U.S.S. Eldridge, a World War II-era vessel thought long vanished decades ago. But there it is, in all its iron and steel glory, planted in a Pennsylvania runway and surrounded by a strange current. Local Springview, Pennsylvania cop Carl (John Reardon) dares to touch the hull and is pulled inside, his arm now fused to the ship. Escaping from the vessel at the same time is Lieutenant Bill Gardener (Nicholas Lea), a U.S. Naval officer who believes he's still in the 1940s but emerges into 2012, a world he finds largely alien. With nowhere to turn and no understanding of where -- or when -- he is, he seeks out his granddaughter, Molly (Emilie Ullerup), a computer hacker with whom he must frantically work to return the ship, and himself, to the proper time and place before the vessel's disappearing-reappearing act has damaging and irreversible consequences on the present and the future both.
There's not a thing to love about The Philadelphia Experiment, and there's not even a whole lot to like about the movie, but that doesn't make it a failure. On the contrary, it's a satisfying little slice of on-the-cheap SyFY moviemaking done right, or at least about as right as a SyFy production can be given the proven track record of dismal films and various failures. The Philadelphia Experiment ranks up there with Ice Quake as just about the best the channel has produced. The picture tells a fairly interesting story (though it'll probably sit a little better with those who haven't seen, or are unfamiliar with, the original) and, surprise, it's realized rather well from a dramatic perspective, holding the audience's interest with a nice blend of character drama, action, and emotion. The X-Files veteran Nicholas Lea handles lead actor duties well, bringing a fairly genuine and believable sense of panic and awe to the part, at first, and later morphing into a sort of hero not completely unlike Cole MacGrath from the InFAMOUS series of video games in action but a little more down to earth in character. He plays well with co-star Emilie Ullerup who herself performs better than the film probably deserves.
Then again, the movie is littered with some of the usual SyFy suspects, such as awful and unconvincing and at times even humorous special effects, though there are a few that are at least visually interesting (the ship atop the building in particular looks fairly good for SyFy). Better, the story is good enough that the effects aren't the focus, even in an effects-heavy film and one built on a core story dependent on those effects. It's a testament to how well it's put together at the fundamental storytelling level; sure the worst visuals will pull the audience out of the movie, but the drama will pull it back in just as quickly. There remains also rather pedestrian production values evident in nearly every shot, special effects or no; not a lot of effort went into costumes, set design, and the like, but again the core story and the interest it generates proves enough to mask the film's flaws and yield a rather watchable little movie that should please core Science Fiction fans with lowered expectations, not to mention those who enjoy films like the excellent and underrated The Final Countdown.
The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Philadelphia Experiment features a run-of-the-mill SyFy movie-on-Blu-ray transfer. The 1080p, 1.78:1-framed image was shot on video and lacks the organic value of film, but it's not excessively shiny. It is, however, rather flat, but it does offer serviceable detailing and good color balance. Viewers, particularly veteran Blu-ray viewers, won't be overwhelmed by anything in the transfer but will appreciate what is at least a good, basic foundation that reveals all the usual textures and surfaces nicely enough. The image is suitably crisp and well defined around every corner, with no loss of sharpness or detail at any point. Colors never explode off the screen, but brighter outdoor segments reveal a good little bit of vibrancy with a natural tone. Black levels are fine, and flesh tones don't offer up any problems. Light banding and noise are evident in a few places but don't interfere with the flow of the presentation. All around, this is a watchable, workmanlike transfer from Anchor Bay.
The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Philadelphia Experiment features a robust and enjoyable lossless soundtrack, pretty much the norm for SyFY Blu-ray releases. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation offers a plus musical presence to start, yielding good spacing, including a fair bit of surround information. The early experiment sequences set a standard for the rest of the track that is usually met or surpassed throughout. Waves of electrical current and other sounds of advanced science pulse through every speaker with excellent flow and precision, accompanied by a robust amount of low end information. Bass becomes almost punishing in a scene midway through the film, and a somewhat lengthy shootout results in excellent gunfire that pops and zips from every corner and impacts on metal surfaces with startling authority. Subsequent explosions pack a nice punch, too, though are perhaps a bit tame compared to what listeners might expect given the rest of the track. The track handles smaller but no less important elements equally well; light rumbling and background humming on board a small private jet seen early in the film play most convincingly. Rounded into form by seamless and clear dialogue reproduction, it's always easy to hear why this is a very good, high end soundtrack from Anchor Bay.
The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Philadelphia Experiment contains no supplemental features.
The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like Ice Quake before it, The Philadelphia Experiment is probably nothing more than a blip on the radar, a decent movie destined to become lost in a sea of nonsense and bad flicks rather than set a new standard direction for SyFy productions. But at least the film shows that there's always hope, that the next movie might not be a total dud, and that special effects and poor production values don't have to ruin a movie. No, this isn't great or even good cinema, and it would be laughed out of a theater, but for what it is it's hard to beat. Anchor Bay's featureless Blu-ray release of The Philadelphia Experiment delivers solid video and audio. Definitely worth a rental, maybe more at a greatly reduced price.
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The Philadelphia Experiment Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Philadelphia Experiment (2012) Blu-ray - March 11, 2013
Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of The Philadelphia Experiment (2012), director Paul Ziller's reimagining of the time travel cult classic. The film stars Nicholas Lea (Kyle XY), Michael Paré (of the original 1984 movie), Ryan Robbins ...
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