This is another sci-fi flick from the 80s that once more, I must thank my wife for! Yes, this is yet another film that I had never heard of. And again, I recognized the stars of it (Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood) but not the film itself. “Brainstorm” is much different than what I expected. That’s a good thing! The trailer for it (which you can find at www.imdb.com) made the film seem to be much more of a thriller (something perhaps more akin to “Looker”), but it was SO much more than that!
“Brainstorm” follows the scientific laboratory development of a way in which what one human experienced could be recorded and then replayed through a headset to be experienced by someone else. This experience would include taste, smell, sight, sensations, and sound. The real catchy part in this science is that it allows the full experience, including emotions. That makes this a far more brilliant movie than it would have been otherwise. There is a much larger spectrum of what the technology created in the film suggests. In other words, it really makes you think about “what if that were real?” I love movies like this because it raises that speculation with the viewer.
“Brainstorm” has a feel to it that is very interesting. It’s not so much style or camera angles or anything like that. It’s just a feel for the movie itself. The film has a slow pace to it, except towards the end, and that really helps you to absorb all of what is happening in the film. The story follows the development of this technology to the military swooping in to assume control of the project (so very 80s!) to the lead scientist dying of a heart attack. This is where the film took a weird turn. I was thinking (I guess) that this is where the story would become a real thriller. You know: trying to keep the military away from this “dangerous” project. You see, the lead scientist is dying of a heart attack and she records her death through this machine! I was certain the military would then use this experience to kill people via the headset.
I was wrong – and again, pleasantly so! I was stunned by the kind of surreal twist of having Christopher Walken wanting to experience this one tape and play it all the way until the end. It was fairly genius on the part of the writer and director’s behalf to make this switch. Walken is looking for the experience of beyond death. The death sequence is this very surreal experience that was so well done that it absolutely made the film! It was superbly handled in the film, and it made sense of the entire story.
I have to say that this film caught me by surprise and it was wonderful! “Brainstorm” is a thought-provoking older film that has a surreal quality to it, and it is a real gem! It’s weird to see such a young Walken and sad to see Natalie Wood in her last movie. This film is a bit reminiscent of “Altered States” I suppose, but a better movie over all. Check it out, and be prepared to be stimulated in thought. Let me know what YOU think of it!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE