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Christopher Walken , Natalie Wood , Douglas Trumbull    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Brainstorm is a fascinating but frustrating film, simply because it dabbles in greatness but fails to develop the fullest implications of its provocative ideas. It's a visually dazzling film with outstanding special effects; directed by veteran effects creator Douglas Trumbull, of 2001 fame; but too caught up in marvels of hardware and software at the expense of its characters, who remain interesting but dramatically two-dimensional. The story involves the development of a headset recorder that can replay one person's experiences--even their emotional states--into the mind of another. The device obviously invites corporate or military exploitation, and Cliff Robertson plays a ruthless executive determined to tap into its lucrative potential. But when a scientist (Louise Fletcher) records her own death experience with the device, along with incriminating evidence, the technology's inventor (Christopher Walken) must unlock the mysteries of his colleague's suspicious demise and the very nature of death itself. Punctuated by remarkable sequences from the perspective of those who use the mind-expanding headset, Brainstorm dares to reach for ambitious themes and innovative movie experiences, and that alone makes it eminently worthwhile. But with a conclusion that too literally interprets the afterlife experience with conventional angelic imagery, and a disappointingly thin role for Natalie Wood (who died while the film was still in production), the film strives for profundity and settles instead for an inspirational light show. --Jeff Shannon

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marriage counseling through technology Feb. 14 2004
Before virtual reality and before "The Matrix," there was the 1983 film "Brainstorm." O.K., this movie may not compare favorably with "The Matrix," but it does involve some of the same tangential themes that that film deals with. The comparisons with virtual reality are apt, though viewers tend to overlook this aspect of the movie. People usually associate the film, if they even talk about it today, with Natalie Wood. The actress died shortly before the film wrapped in a highly publicized boating accident, thereby cutting short a lengthy film career and giving this motion picture a stigma it still carries today. A viewing of "Brainstorm" shows the film is more than Natalie Wood; it is a compelling story about innovative technology and its potential for misuse by powerful forces. Not a particularly unique movie plot, to be sure, but "Brainstorm" is still an intriguing film largely due to its solid cast and amazing special effects. The movie holds up well twenty years after its conception, which is saying a lot considering how far film effects have come during that time.
A team of brilliant scientists headed up by Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher) and Michael Brace (Christopher Walken) have finally made an enormous breakthrough in their research. After years of frustrating tests and wrangles over budgetary concerns, an amazing new virtual reality system has been born. The machines these scientists created can record the sensory perceptions of one human being and replay them for another person. Reynolds and her team can capture everything--sight, taste, touch, hearing, smell, even emotion--and record it on tape. The implications of this discovery should become apparent almost immediately.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cold Hard Reality June 18 2004
Brainstorm is good movie, that unfortunately, due to the tragic end of its leading lady, had to be reworked. It's because of that, I think the film will forever be underated.
Two scientists, Michael (Chistopher Walken) and Karen Brace (Natalie Wood, in her last film) are developing a virtual reality system that sends sensory inputs into the brain and can record sights, sounds, feelings, and even dreams. The military attempts to take over the project, with the help of ruthless businessman, Alex Terson (Cliff Robertson). When a senior team member, Dr. Lilian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher), dies under mysterious circumstances, the evidence points to Brace. Soon, Brace is on the run, trying to clear his name
Noted for his effects work in 2001 A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Douglas Trumball, steps behind the camera as director. The film benefits visually from his expertise, as you might expect, but as is so often the case within the genre, the story should be the star...aided by a solid cast. Brainstorm has those traits. Walken delivers another fine performance as a tragic hero. Of course he also knows how to play a bad guy too. For this film though, Roberton is given that charge, and he delightfully chews the scenery, rising to the occaision. Through no fault of the filmmakers, Trumball had to paste together an alternate ending and it shows. What might have been...
The DVD's only extra is film's theatrical trailer. Viewers can watch the film in either the full-screen, or, widescreen formats.
Brainstorm is worth a look and is better than most folks think
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rating Brainstorm on what it should have been March 13 2003
By Rick
Not too many people have seen Showscan movies. For some reason, they were released in (I think) selected Chucky Cheese's pizza shops.
Some friends and I drove 2 hours across Missouri to see Showscan and it was the most realistic picture we had ever seen.
Showscan was a 65mm film presented at 60 frames per second (fps). Studies had shown this to be the frame repetition rate at which the brain would integrate the frames seamlessly and accept it as true motion. Most movies are 24 fps, although each frame is shown multiple times to reduce flicker.
But you can tell that it's not real. US TV, which operates at 60 fields per second approximates the Showscan presentation. The difference between this and normal films is obvious - most people can tell a video source from a film source. They may not know why the video seems to have more presence, but the frame rate is the answer.
Brainstorm was originally produced to use Showscan projectors for the times when people were experiencing "reality" with their headsets. This would have clearly stood out from the rest of the film, and would have seemed much more real.
Perhaps only Doug T. saw the project in the 24/60 fps version. I know I didn't. However, from my experience with Showscan, I can state without reservation that this would have been one hell of a film as originally conceived. The "reality" changes would have more than made up for any other problems with acting or scripting. The "WOW" factor would have overridden all other criticism.
As for the dialog and acting being a little clunky - well, have you ever seen early stereo or 3D movies? They tended to concentrate on exploring the technology instead of the picture. Perhaps Showscan could have evolved to the state that 3D did with Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Classic
The tech is the heart of this story : brain-to-brain electronic communication. What are the potential benefits (and detriments) to mankind? Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dan
4.0 out of 5 stars Older movie - Last movie made by Natalie Wood
This is the last film made by Natalie WOOD.

The movie is very dated technology wise but the plot is interesting. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2011 by GM
4.0 out of 5 stars Natalie Wood's last full-length movie
From the earliest sci-fi movies to the latest graphic novel people have been speculating on transferring thoughts and experiences. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2010 by bernie
Here's the thing, I have a very good, 27' tube, JVC T.V., the picture is sharp and crisp, with excellent colour definition. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2009 by stryper
4.0 out of 5 stars A sci-fi film with meaning and soul
Is this a great film? No, let me say that is a great concept, truly stretches ones imagination, and it is a good film. Read more
Published on May 19 2002 by Michael Erisman
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Future
Although many say that this was not Natalie Woods best work, I truly enjoyed the movie. The technical instrument that they invent is astonishing. Read more
Published on June 19 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Lousy DVD
This is a truly great film, and like Bladerunner, was years ahead of its time. Unfortunately this DVD has is possibly one of the worst transfers I've seen. Read more
Published on June 4 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars DVD Quality Mediocre
The brainstorm movie is a good one, but I was VERY disappointed by the quality of the prints and compression used for this DVD. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Fletcher and Wood at the top of their game
My god has it been 17 years since this film was released in theatres! I saw it as a kid and was absolutely blown away by it. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2000 by Collin Kelley
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sci-fi thriller
The premise of this movie is great - they find a way to record all five senses, and when Louise Fletcher (awesome acting as the chain-smoking scientist) records her own death, the... Read more
Published on July 1 2000 by D. G Sinclair
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