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What Dreams May Come

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: What Dreams May Come

Starring: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Director: Vincent Ward
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: October 1998
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow

Review by David Wilcock
½ star out of 4

Robin Williams, this time without a beard, returns to drama in this sloppy, sickly sweet fantasy with few redeeming features apart from the incredible effects. He plays Chris Nielsen, who meets Annie (Annabella Sciora) and promptly marries her. They have two great kids, who sadly die in a car crash. Just when it couldn't get any worse, Chris gets killed in a car crash, and goes to Heaven where he meets his guide Albert (Gooding Jnr.) Annie can't take the grief anymore, and kills herself. (All sounding like good fun so far?) The 'penalty' for suicide is to go to Hell, and Chris goes on a mission to try and rescue her using the help of the Traveller (Max Von Sydow.)

Based on a novel by Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come is clunky, manufactured material doused with a extra load of sugar. This is the worse Spielberg film Spielberg never made. Everything is wrong about this movie: the performances are forced, and the audiences fail to relate to any of the characters. Williams puts on a convincing upset face, but that's all it is: a face. There's no emotion behind it. Sciora's performance is lazy, and bogs down the whole film. She may look pretty, but she can't act. Max Von Sydow is O.K as the traveller, if nothing special. Cuba Gooding Jnr, thankfully, adds some bounce to his performance, and is certainly the best performer in the film. It's a shame that his character is so flat and 2-D, and offers no room for improvement.

All the performers have to work with a soppy script, that tries it's best to get some emotion going, but never takes off the ground. There are _some_ scenes which could be real heartwarmers, but the faceless characters don't help to get anything out of the performers. While films like E.T used great actors, music and direction to pull of a masterful heart-tugging scene, What Dreams May Come is haphazard, expecting the emotion to come out of the scene automatically. Instead, it's all rather boring. Sure, the music is pretty (by Michael Kamen) and the cinematography isn't bad (by Eduardo Serra) but there's something lacking. The script doesn't help, filled with hopeless romantic clichés, and dud speeches. Richard Matheson can write some awesome science fiction stories, sadly this novel would look embarrassed in a bargain bin, let alone being converted into a $70 million vehicle for Robin Williams.

Despite being set in Heaven, What Dreams May Come is mightily depressing. The film rushes a happy ending, but everything before this is very, very sad and black, which just adds to make the ending even more hopeless and stupid.

But there's one redeeming feature about this failure of a movie: the special effects. Heaven and Hell are truly incredible places, and the actors fit perfectly with the virtual sets. But despite this, What Dreams May Come, proves to be nothing but the biggest disappointment of 1998. Instead of raising questions about existence, it raises boredom. Sadly, I recommend you give this film a miss. Better luck next time, Robin.

Copyright © 1998 David Wilcock

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