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USA/New Zealand 1998
Directed by
Vincent Ward
113 minutes
Rated M

1.5 stars

What Dreams May Come

There is one good thing to be said about Vincent Ward's film and that is that its visual effects and art direction are both imaginative and impressively well done but in every other respect it is a cloying, conceptually woolly fantasy romance that will appeal to the New Age party faithful but for anyone else will be virtually incomprehensible.

The presence of Robin Williams is usually the sign of cringe-worthy stereotypicality and here he delivers in spades as Chris, a paediatrician (probably wearing the same white coat that he used in Patch Adams, a film that was released the same year to widespread derision) blissfully married to Annie (Annabella Sciorra) a gorgeous painter/curator with whom he has two gorgeous kids. Then the kids get killed in a car accident and he gets killed in another car accident. He goes to Heaven (where else?) but his grieving wife blames herself for the deaths of her family (no-one gives a hoot about the housekeeper who was driving the kids apparently) bumps herself off and gets sent Hell so he has to descend into its bowels to save her so that they can he reunited and live happily in the ever-after with their kids and dog.

The story, which is taken from novel by Richard Matheson, best known as the author of 'I Am Legend', is not the problem. In fact there’s a good deal of potential in it. However the script by Ron Bass is a laboured, hackneyed hodgepodge of didactic rhetoric about never-giving-up and you-are-what-you-think, love-conquers-all and god knows what else, woven into a confusing narrative that jumps back and forth in time and includes a couple of completely uninteresting characters, Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr) and The Tracker (Max Von Sydow, Ward’s homage to Ingmar Bergman, no doubt), not that Williams' character is erally any more interesting, his sole aspiration it seems is to grow old comfortably. With some truly awful acting by Williams and dreadful wig-work (surely given the money spent elsewhere on visual effects they could have paid a little more attention), the unrelenting sentimentality and air of sanctimonious self-satisfaction, this a dire affair.

FYI: : Werner Herzog has a small cameo as a face on a path in Hell.




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