Anyone who has ever awoken from a vivid dream and walked around all day frustrated about having lost the details will appreciate the intriguing concept behind Douglas Trumbull's Brainstorm. Of course, with every major scientific breakthrough, there's a way to twist it to evil, and Brainstorm is at its spookiest when contemplating the psychotic loop that paralyzes the viewer when flooded with images that shouldn't be seen. For the most part, this visually dynamic film -- a nice complement to Trumbull's unequaled special effects resumé -- follows a familiar format, as the government infiltrates a well-meaning project, turning its developers into disenfranchised outsiders trying to quell the unfolding disaster. But this effects movie finds greater success with its human touches, which are fewer but well done, especially when it examines the collapsed marriage of Michael and Karen Brace. That relived snippets from their happier past can help mend their future is the triumphant realization of their work, and a darn romantic idea to boot. Those aware that Natalie Wood died during filming will search for noticeable gaps, but to the credit of the quintet of screenwriters, they achieve a smooth flow that makes for a dignified farewell.
by Derek Armstrong review