Based on a Michael Crichton novel, Sphere was a 1998 sci-fi film about a team of experts in various fields exploring some crashed underwater spaceship.
Directed by Barry Levinson, the film boasts an all-star cast with Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote and Liev Schreiber all being part of the main team. Sphere is a psychological thriller that's a bit like a cross between The Abyss, Event Horizon, The Thing and Alien as the more the selected experts investigate the spaceship, the creepier the tone of the film becomes. Eventually, characters start dropping like flies as various unexpected threats start popping up randomly from killer jellyfish to giant squids. The discovery of a gold alien sphere in the middle of the spaceship leads to growing paranoia among the crew and various twists and turns.
There are references here and there to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and, indeed, the film attempts to capture the book's sense of adventure and claustrophobia but Sphere really has more of a B-movie horror feel to it, something which critics back in the day counted as a minus point. The same was said about Prometheus and it's likely that if you like the latter, you'll like Sphere since it has a similar tone. The cast is very good throughout and Levinson does a good job at making us distrust just about every character. Samuel L. Jackson is as excellent and tense as ever and, while it's odd to see Dustin Hoffman in a science-fiction setting, the fact it's an actor not usually associated with the genre playing that role adds some realism to his character.
Sphere has a terrific build-up and it's overall a very tense, suspenseful, well made thriller. Perhaps its old-fashioned take on the genre and its dark, unpleasant setting contributed to it being a flop back in the day but I definitely recommend the film as I feel it's an unfairly underrated sci-fi throwback with a lot going for it.