MY SCIENCE PROJECT, 1985
Starring: John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens and Dennis Hopper
Two high school students break into a military facility and discover a strange glowing orb which has the ability to warp time around it. Eventually their entire school is caught up in a time vortex where past, present and future collide.
This is another film that I really wish I could’ve put higher on the Top 100 Time Travel movies list. I personally think it is better than the sequel to the ‘Butterfly Effect’, maybe not top forty material but very close.
Admittedly a lot of my love for this film comes from the nostalgia. It’s one of those mid-eighties films that takes you back to the pre-www days, where you had to wait for several minutes, sometimes up to half an hour, to load a video game and where special effects weren’t that special.
The plot is fairly simple and maybe that’s a good thing. An orb from a crashed alien vessel found by the US Military in 1957 is ordered, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be destroyed. The orb is placed in a military junkyard for future analysis. Over time the device was forgotten and became lost.
Years later Michael Harlan (John Stockwell) and geeky girl Ellie Sawyer (Danielle von Zerneck) break into a military junkyard to find a science project for Michael's class. Michael accidentally falls through a trap door into an old underground fallout shelter, and finds a strange glowing orb which, unknown to them, is the engine of a crashed UFO. Michael unknowingly activates the device while trying to clean it, throughout the film it is referred to as the "gizmo". It demonstrates strange properties, such as absorbing electricity from any nearby devices and weird spooky foggy SFX lights come out of it. After Michael and his friends plug it into a power source, it begins to materialize objects from other time periods.
When his science teacher (Dennis Hopper) experiments by plugging the orb directly into the power grid, it starts a chain reaction that warps the dimensions and time around it. Very quickly the entire school is being engulfed in a clash of the time periods and Michael and his mates Vince (Fisher Stevens) and Ellie are the only ones who can stop the space/time continuum from tearing apart.
This really is an enjoyable film while the dialogue is at times a bit cheesy and sometimes over complicated, the story itself is quite simple and easy to follow. In a funny way the same thing goes for the special effects, whilst they are a bit cheesy at times, they are simple and don’t get too much in the way of the storyline. Both of these can be forgiven their cheesiness as it was the 1980’s and films were cheesy then.
I liked to see Dennis Hopper play something other than a sinister villain, being an aging hippie teacher was an awesome role for him to play. Also special mention should go to Fisher Stevens, who has a character that he could have easily been pushed into cheesy city, but he plays the stereotypical 80’s teen radicle with just the right balance of cheese and cool.
Ultimately though this film just came out at the wrong time, it came out in 1985 when there was just too much competition for it. It was competing with such sci-fi greats as ‘Ghostbusters’ and teen films like ‘Footloose’, both of which had just come out the previous year. To say nothing of the golden year for sci-fi and teen movies that 1985 was with films like; ‘The Goonies’, ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Back to the Future’. ‘My Science Project’ was always going to have to take a back seat.
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