Director Paul Ziller may not be a name you are familiar with, but he is responsible for several Syfy Channel projects that I have enjoyed. I can now add THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT to that list of titles. This film is a remake from an 80s classic, but I have to admit that it definitely does the original justice. While filled with typical Syfy Channel-budget special effects (meaning they’re mediocre), the film itself is taut and tense, a welcome excursion into science-fiction.
If you are not familiar with THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay:
In 1943, a secret government project attempted to create a cloaking device that would make warships invisible. But during the first test, the USS Eldridge successfully vanished…and could not be found again. 70 years later, the Navy destroyer momentarily reappears on a Pennsylvania runway allowing the sole surviving crewman to escape and a local lawman to board. What is behind a sinister reactivation of the project? Where will the massive ship materialize next? And what will become of two men trapped in a time/space catastrophe? Nicholas Lea (”Kyle XY”), Michael Paré (of the original film), Ryan Robbins (”Falling Skies”), Emilie Ullerup (”Sanctuary”), Gina Holden (SAW 3D), and Malcolm McDowell (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) star in this electrifying remake of the ’80s hit about the allegedly true military operation known as THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT.
I have to be honest and confess that I didn’t expect much when going into this one. I remember the original from way back in the day, and I remember liking it…but I couldn’t see how they could update the plot to fit into this century. I’m glad I gave this film a chance, though…this is a fun watch and it’s impressive to see how they improved upon the old one.
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT is shot well and looks great from a cinematic standpoint. Although it has a shoestring budget, the film looks expensive for the most part. My sole complaint about the visuals, as I mentioned earlier, are the less-than-impressive CG effects which tend to run rampant in Syfy Channel films. Thankfully, these are not so bad as to detract from the enjoyment of this movie.
I am particularly impressed with the acting in the film as well. Nicholas Lea does a great job in his role, as do Michael Pare (who was also in the original film) and Emilie Ullerup. But Malcolm McDowell steals the show for me. I’ve been a fan of McDowell’s work for many, many years, and he always impresses on-screen. The same can be said here.
Overall, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT is a win for me, and fans of Syfy Channel’s movies will love this one. I recommend giving it a look, although if you don’t like what you see on Syfy, you probably won’t like this one. The film hits store shelves tomorrow, on both DVD and Blu-ray.