Starring: Michael Pare, Nancy Allen, Bobby Di Cicco, Eric Christmas
Rated PG (probably for Action/Violence)
"The Philadelphia Experiment" is a genre movie, and that's fine. It's an adventure/romance with everything you'd expect and not much more. It's effective, but it doesn't have anything to make it stand out. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before in other, better movies. Man, have I been writing a lot recently.
According to conspiracy theorists, the Philadelphia Experiment was a top secret project done by the US Navy to try and render a ship, the USS Eldridge, invisible. The whole thing was classified, and according to some accounts, it was abandoned after horrible side effects on the sailors, such as mental disorders and being fused to bulkheads. Or turned inside out. Naturally, the whole thing is considered a hoax, but that hasn't stopped Hollywood from turning it into a movie.
David Herdeg (Pare) is a sailor on the USS Eldridge with his best friend, Jim Parker (di Cicco). The Navy is conducting said experiment, and the two are tasked with making sure the machine is running smoothly. But something goes wrong and soon everything is going crazy. The two jump ship to escape the fallout and end up stranded in the desert. Little do they realize that it's 1984. The only one who is willing to help them is a girl named Allison (Allen).
The story is pure formula. I wouldn't mind that it's pure formula if it were good formula. But it's not. The script is half-baked, the direction pedestrian, and the special effects downright cheesy. Granted, it was made in 1984, but so was "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (with only an additional $4 million in its budget.
"The Philadelphia Experiment" is less "Twilight Zone" and more fish-out-of-water romance. I got the sense that after the premise, the filmmakers were too callous or too cowardly to do anything of interest with it. If it's any consolation, it's that Michael Pare and Nancy Allen "click." It's nothing like Rick and Ilsa or Jack and Rose, but the embers of romance are there. Both give adequate, but not standout performances, and since they're essentially the only ones on screen for more than a few minutes at a time, that's a good thing.
This isn't a good or bad movie. It is what it is, and while the chase sequences are brainless, at least one of them is well-executed. Such are the joys of this movie, I guess. Better leave it to Saturday morning TV.