Dreamscape (1984)

Article 2935 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-21-2009
Posting Date: 8-27-2009
Directed by Joseph Ruben
Featuring Dennis Quaid, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer
Country: USA

A young psychic is drawn into experimental research that involves psychically entering people’s dreams. He stumbles upon a conspiracy intent on assassinating the president through an attack on his dreamworld.

The rise of STAR WARS and the coming of age of special effects technology led to a flood of fantastically-themed cinema during the eighties, but, despite my love for the genres, I was less than enthusiastic. One of the reasons was that far too many of these movies ended up like this one – a possibly intriguing concept that does little more than lend itself to cliches and convention. The cast is surprisingly strong and rather appealing, but they’re playing cliched, one-dimensional characters that don’t challenge them. I found much of this movie unbelievable; just for example, I found it hard to believe that a ordinary horror movie concept like a scary snake monster would be enough to cause one psychic researcher to have a complete mental breakdown. For me, though, the real disappointment is that it never delivers on one of its promises; if, as one character says, you can “do anything you want” in a dream, than the movie shows a distressing lack of imagination in giving the characters that power over the dream reality. Another problem I have is one that may be a matter of individual experience; the use of dream sequences in movies has rarely worked for me because I so seldom see ones that look like actual dreams, and this movie fares no better in that regard. Sure, it’s entertaining enough if in the “popcorn” movie tradition, where you’re supposed to turn off your mind and enjoy the ride, but I’m not a fan of that form, and it takes a fairly special movie of that kind for it to work for me, and this isn’t one of them.

I have a funny feeling that I’m slated to see a lot of movies like this in years to come.

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