The Philadelphia Experiment

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In the ravages of war, we need as much help as we can get and though sometimes we do need to experiment, sometimes those experiments take things too far and have disastrous consequences. One such case involves a plan to cloak United States battleships from enemy radar, which could prove to be very useful indeed. This means other countries and such would be interested too and as such, the entire experiment is kept hush hush from the start. This is not the kind of information we’d want to slip into the wrong hands, as it could easily be used against us. So work continues under lock and key and soon enough, something goes wrong and the government is baffled as to what has happened. It seems as though one of the ships in the experiment has disappeared and they have no idea as to what to do now, which leaves little hope for those on board the ship. Two sailors managed to leap over the side before it was too late though and as such, were sent through time to forty-one years in the future. Can these two work to make sure this never happens again and also try gain some semblance of their lives again?

It has been a long wait to be sure, but The Philadelphia Experiment has arrived on our beloved format and though the results are mixed, I am pleased just to own this on DVD. I am quite pleased with video and audio aspects of this disc, which is what really counts in the end, but the supplements leave a lot to be desired. I would have loved an audio commentary from various folks or perhaps even a retrospective featurette, but no such luck in this case. Perhaps we will see a special edition down the road, but don’t look for it to arrive any time soon. While I would have liked more extras, what really counts is the film itself and since it looks & sounds better than ever, this one is an easy recommendation. I think the film is excellent and worth a look, but some science-fiction fans tend to shed a less positive light on this one. I happen to be a sucker for time travel flicks, so of course this one appeals to me, but I think those interested in science-fiction outside the realm of Will Smith and computer generated aliens will want to take a chance on this picture also. The disc is a solid treatment and though fans will want to purchase, I think a rental will suffice in most cases.

This isn’t the type of movie where one element stands out, which makes this an unusual review. The acting is adequate, but nothing superb or out of this world and you could say the same for the directing and pretty much every other aspect of this motion picture. No one person or position puts this film over the top and in fact, on paper this film seems weaker than heck. But The Philadelphia Experiment as a whole is more than the sum of its parts, which is makes this one so magical for me. If a dominant actor or director had signed on, perhaps this film would have lost some of that magic and as such, wouldn’t have been as good in the end. Don’t get me wrong and think the acting & directing is poor though, because that simply isn’t the case. This one just happens to rely equally on the elements for success. The movie was helmed by Stewart Raffill, who also directed such films as The Ice Pirates, Mac and Me, Mannequin 2: On the Move, and Grizzly Falls. The cast is solid, but never ventures into the breakthrough zone with their performances. Among those who star in this film are Nancy Allen (Out of Sight, Robocop), Eric Christmas (Air Bud, Mouse Hunt), Michael Pare (The Virgin Suicides, Eddie & The Cruisers), and Bobby DiCicco (Splash, 1941).

Video: How does it look?

The Philadelphia Experiment is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a nice transfer overall, with few real flaws to point out. I did see some minor compression hiccups, but nothing to even shed one tear over. The print looks clean and is the best I’ve seen the movie look, but some debris and grain can still be seen here and there. The colors seem natural, but bright at times and no bleeds can be seen, while flesh tones look normal also. I saw no problems with contrast either, black levels were smooth and well balanced, while detail was never obscured in the least. In simple words, this is the best edition of this film you’ll find on home video.

Audio: How does it sound?

In addition to a new 16X9 enhanced transfer, this disc also sports a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 remix that spices up the audio quite a bit. This isn’t an audio driven movie, but the included track is nice and offers some frequent surround use that adds to the experience. The speakers aren’t pulsing throughout by any means, but I was pleased with the overall amount and frequency of activity found here. The music sounds expansive and rich, sound effects emerge in fine form, and the dialogue is sharp and never distorted. Not much more you can ask for, if you ask me.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer and some liner notes can be found within the insert booklet.

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