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Here's a fun concept. Let's put together a film with heavy sci-fi elements and themes in the vein of Twilight Zone and mash it together with a poorly motivated romance and have John Travolta stare at trees for the majority of it. That sounds like punishment.

Guess what though? It killed it. The box office loved this film despite the critics apprehensions. Flocks of people wanting to see some feel goodie type jobbers fled to the theater thinking that John Travolta was making a huge comeback (it was over 2 years later) and that he was good at acting as he did great at looking confused in Pulp Fiction

That's neat and all but here's the deal with this film. It's a continuous set of missed opportunities to be something truly good. It seems that a writer had a fantastic concept in a man given super-powers and then can accomplish nothing with them but have his life ruined by them and a pariah to his former neighbors. That's good stuff. However, the studio clearly stuck their damn noses in and said, "Well we need to have an hour of it be taken up by a romance. That'll get the ladies involved." In this case they were right when it came to cash, but relegates this film to the folks at Stinker Madness to expose it's flaws.

So now you've got this romance crammed into a sci-fi film in post-writing. Now I just saw Passengers (Pratt, Lawrence - 2016) and it is very much a love-story set against a sci-fi space travel story and it's quite well done. Romance/sci-fi mashups CAN happen and be good. However, it needs to be part of the concept and writing from the start. This didn't happen here and this romance starts to fall apart before it even gets going. Their relationship does not have a point B in it. There's A) where she is not interested and then C) she loves him. When did that happen? Oh yeah we were trying to tell a different story during the usual B). 

Beyond that, the film is quite stupid and falls victim to the idiot plot thanks to Travolta's George being a true idiot and Robert Duvall's Doctor of Town not ever looking at a medical chart. Then there's the reveal of the source of his super-powers and completely defeats the entire moral that the film has tried to establish beforehand. 

It's not good and not worth revisiting. Stay clear of all but the most bold.

Individual Ratings:

Over the top action:0-star
Cheesy effects:0-star
Horrendous acting:3-star
Ridiculous stunts:0-star
Gratuitous nudity:0-star
Memorable one-liners:2-star

Overall Ratings:

Good Movie Quality: 4-star
Bad Movie Quality:4-star

Streaming Do's and Don'ts

About Phenomenon - Movie Information

Sam's Boring Bullshit

Jon Turtletaub has had an odd and varied career that started, dubiously, with Think Big, the Barbarian Brothers trucking movie. He would hit the jackpot with such titles as Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping, this turd, and National Treasure. National Treasure 2 didn’t do well enough to warrant a third picture, even though it ends on something of a cliff hanger. The lack of National Treasure 3 would mark the down turn in Turtletaub’s career. He is however currently making a very large budget picture featuring Jason Statham fighting a giant shark. This giant shark movie may be an inadvertent remake of Shark Attack 3: Megolodon.

Phenomenon was very successful, despite being absolute crap. I guess there was a three year period where we as theater goers decided we wanted to look at John Travolta again. It is really the only explanation for the success of his films between his rebirth in Pulp Fiction and the end of the gravy train, Michael. This thing did so well that Buena Vista green lit a direct to cable sequel. I would like very much if it would have been titled; Phenomenon 2: I guess I’m not dead. Sadly it wasn’t. For whatever reason it was seen as the wiser option to call it Phenomenon II and then have it be a direct retelling with different actors. I would guess it has to be among the worst cable originals ever.

I remember this film coming out and being told I have to see it by about everyone. Everyone may include a fellow Stinker Madness host, I don’t want to name any names but his name isn’t Jackie (editor's note - FAKE NEWS!). I did not follow any of those recommendations, mostly because it looked like crap. It seems to have seen a revision in critical view, where it is now in retrospect seen as mediocre with a good heart. It has 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.4 on IMDB. Those might not seem like high numbers but I can assure you they are too high.

Welcome to Nonsense November. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you can make sense of this thing you need to send us an email.

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Monday, 04 December 2023

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