Dreamscape (1984)

Genres - Action, Science Fiction, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Paranoid Thriller, Political Thriller, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Aug 15, 1984 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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This tidy little B-movie never fully capitalizes on the full potential of its novel premise but remains good fun in a "Saturday matinee" vein. The script is occasionally overwhelmed by its own ambition but moves fast enough to gloss over its weaker elements: the cold-war angle of the story hasn't dated well, and a subplot with a Stephen King-like horror novelist goes nowhere, but there's always an inventive nightmare scenario or a fun bit of action to keep things moving along past any bumps in the plot. Director Joseph Ruben wisely plays to the film's genre-based strengths, maintaining a taut pace and effectively using veteran actors like Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow to lend the film's conspiracy angle some dramatic weight. The film further benefits from some strong lead performances: Dennis Quaid uses his down to earth charm to make Alex Gardner a hero that is easy to relate to, and David Patrick Kelly is both scary and darkly witty as Gardner's eccentric (and psychotic) rival. Dreamscape's appeal is cemented by its creative dream sequences; the larger-scale special effects show their seams due to the low budget, but all the effects exhibit an expressionistic sense of imagination that makes them truly captivating (the most stunning is a train ride through a post-nuclear-war Washington). All in all, Dreamscape is a light but entertaining film that offers plenty of solid B-movie fun for genre enthusiasts.