The main character observes a strange light on his birthday at a bar. The following days he becomes very intelligent and puts the intelligence to good use in his community. When word gets around he becomes known as a freak and everyone wants to figure out why this happened to a car mechanic. The government also wants to get their hands on it to put it to other uses.
PHENOMENON is one of those forgotten movies. At the time it was a big summer box office hit and stretched John Travolta's career to new heights. There's a lot of movies like this that are popular when they come out but are almost forgotten a few years later. Greatness is the only thing that lasts awhile. Good generally is forgotten within a year.
It was an interesting watch 16 years later as I really loved the themes the film was exploring. For some reason the bottom fell out in the third act which turned this film from great to just good. If the creative team had themselves an ending that tied up all of their themes, then this film could of been a classic.
An ordinary man, George Malley (even has a very ordinary name), sees a flash of light and because a highly intelligent man. He has been given the gift of getting the best out of his mind. He sees clearly and therefore understands that intelligence is just one part of the human experience.
My spiritual self feels that we're here on earth to get the best out of ourselves. To learn and explore as much as we can while also creating something new for this world. That's what life is all about for me. So when I watch a movie about a man who's obsessed with learning and exploring as much as he can, I'm interested 100%.
George's mind is expanding and he's picking up knowledge as fast as he can. Of course people around him are now scared because he's changed so much. Another great theme to explore - who are really your friends when you decide to change your lifestyle and become someone new? George learns this while also learning almost everything else he gets his hands on. In fact, there's a moment in the film where he's run out of things to learn. The film was pre-internet and it would of been interesting if they made the film during the WIKIPEDIA era. George could of spent months reading from that website!
At the half-way mark of the film, PHENOMENON kind of runs out of steam. They throw in a government wants his brain plot into the mix that really changes the tone of the entire movie. I really wished they just kept the film in the confines of the small town. George becomes a legend in that town but the rest of the world doesn't know about this super-genius who could learn the Portuguese language in just 20 minutes. Geroge's brain is expanding too much so he doesn't have much time. So why did the creators have to throw in this "I want your brain plot". It was stupid and it cost them a great film.
The best part of PHENOMENON is the romantic story between George and Lace. There's a deep connection between the two that has nothing to do with intelligence. It is really done well and serves the story well. I don't think I've seen a better executed love story in a long time.
So I liked PHENOMENON and so will others. But this is a film that could of been one of the greats~