The Philadelphia Experiment

Dir: Paul Ziller
Star: Nicholas Lea, Emilie Ullerup, Ryan Robbins, Michael Paré

While I have not seen the original film, I am entirely aware of the concept: a "real" US Navy experiment in the forties, caused an entire warship to vanish entirely from our time-space as the result of an attempt to make it invisible. In this SyFy channel remake/reboot, the ship turns up in modern Pennsylvania, carrying a survivor, Bill Gardner (Lea), as the result of a modern attempt by a private consortium under boffin Richard Falkner (Robbins) to bring the technology in question out of mothballs. The company are desperate to prevent word leaking out, which involves both destroying the ship and killing Gardner. Neither will be easy, since the ship is now teleporting around the world at random, and the man, who got off the vessel at its first stop, is trying to send it back to the forties, with the help of his grand-daughter (Ullerup) - who conveniently is still living in the house Bill built, seventy years ago.

This is, of course, complete bollocks, containing a slew of largely ropey digital effects (though the bit where the warship is dropped onto a Chicago skyscraper is kinda cool), a plot where nobody's actions appear to make much sense, and Malcolm McDowell, literally phoning in much of his performance. Still, it moves along briskly enough that the many, many flaws can largely be ignored, if you're in an undemanding mood, and Paré's presence is a nice nod to the past, since he was the star of the original. It might have been fun to have seen more of Gardner's struggles to come to terms with the 21st century; it certainly doesn't take long enough before he's apparently au fait with computers. Perhaps the best element is Michael Neilson's score, which seems to lurk somewhere between Tangerine Dream and German techno, keeping the pace of the film pushing forward, which is absolutely what it needs. Still, if utter nonsense and borderline incompetent in some aspects, at least it's never dull.

[November 2015]

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