I always look forward to original movies made for the SyFy network. No matter how bad they are on every level, there's a certain aspect to these cheap films that always puts a smile on my face. Maybe it's the shoddy special effects used for an epic and apocalyptic movie, or maybe it's the bad dialogue and second rate acting that keep me laughing and wanting more from these never-ending movies. Or it could be my anticipation that SyFy will actually put out a solid film one of these days. Whatever the case may be, these productions are dumb and over-the-top, but they make for an entertaining time.
From movies about alien invasions to snow-globes destroying the world, SyFy got in the remaking business with this particular film called 'The Philadelphia Experiment', based on the 1984 film of the same name. Now, it's best to leave the original film on the back burner and take this new version with a grain of salt. If you keep trying to compare the two, you might end up with an aneurysm. Fortunately for us as an audience, this brand new remake sits on the better side of the scale when discussing movies made for SyFy. While it's still no gem by any means, you can tell there is genuine effort from everyone involved.
Now set in present day, a company is experimenting with making objects invisible. While successfully making a car disappear with some sort energy field, a bizarre aftereffect happens just a few miles away, which is the sudden appearance of a World War II naval ship called the U.S.S. Eldridge that disappeared more than 80 years ago. Local jean-wearing cop Carl (John Reardon) hears about this strange ship that has appeared on a local airport runway and starts to investigate. Meanwhile, a Lieutenant from World War II name Bill Gardener (Nicholas Lea) traveled with the ship and is now in present day in full uniform.
Not knowing where he is or what time period it is, he feels like he is on an alien planet and decides to look up his granddaughter, Molly (Emilie Ullerup) for help. Luckily for him, Molly is a good computer hacker and might be able to send the ship and her grandfather back their known time in order to prevent some catastrophic repercussions of the present and future. In the meantime, Carl has somehow managed to meld himself to the ship as the U.S.S. Eldridge disappears and reappears on top of a skyscraper and other random places. Now it's literally a race against time for Molly, Carl, and Bill to execute and succeed with their plan to send the ship back before more damage is done.
As it always goes with SyFy movies, there is nothing that sticks out as highly entertaining other than the 'it's so bad it's good' angle. While the visual effects are done on the cheap here, they still come across as passable and don't really take us out of the story too much like previous films. The wide shots of the naval ship on top of the building look especially good, given what it is. And while the dialogue and acting aren't anything to write home about and are still a bit atrocious in a few scenes, it isn't the worst I've seen. In fact, there are some films I've seen recently that received a theatrical release that are much worse than this remake.
In a nutshell, if you are a fan of time travel films or enjoy the original SyFy movies, then you'll most likely enjoy this one. It's better than you'll expect from these types of flicks, but still has those unique, low-budget problems that plague this made-for-tv genre. But that's all part of the experience and fun. This modern day remake of 'The Philadelphia Experiment' won't woo anybody over besides maybe the fact that Malcolm McDowell has a role in the film, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
'The Philadelphia Experiment' comes with a standard 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Being shot on the low end, this looks very digital without any filmic quality to it. However, it's not glossed over either and doesn't offer a lot of vivid detail, but rather runs a little flat. The detail in closeups however are more striking, showcasing some wrinkles and blemishes. However in the wider shots, things turn pale.
We can say the same thing with the color. Every color seems a tiny bit muted and never seems to pop off screen. In some of the exterior shots, there is a more natural and realistic light and look to the picture, which was nice. Flesh tones are natural and smooth for the most part, with the black levels running deep and inky. There was just a hint of banding and video noise that creeped up here and there, but never detracted from the film. Given what type of movie this is, the video presentation does its job.
This release comes with an impressive lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix which sounds very good. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. It's free of any cracks or hissing. The many sound effects used in this movie are handled with great precision and are well placed. The gunfire and the electrical currents that accompany the objects that travel through time and disappear sound great through the surrounds and provide some good directionality.
The plane crash at the beginning of the film as well as some other explosions pack a decent punch with a wide dynamic range that uses the bass nicely. The score is a bit cheesy at times, but it still manages to up the suspense and emotion through most of the movie. For this low budget SyFy original, the audio presentation is top notch.
There are no extras on this disc.
There's a small group of us who actually enjoy these ridiculous original SyFy films. I'm sure you never knew this once iconic cult movie was remade, and I'm willing to bet you'll forget about it soon enough, but these movies have a following, and this particular one seems to be on the high-end of movie-making for SyFy. Who knows, maybe next time we'll get something with a bigger budget, big name actors, and a better script, eventually leading to a theatrical release for SyFy. With an impressive audio track, but no extras, I can only recommend this to the die-hard SyFy movie fans. If you're not a fan, I suggest a rental.