In continuing with our theme of underwater movies that feature Samuel L. Jackson, we’re watching Sphere in the dark company of Sam Adams’ Dark Depths Baltic IPA. So grab your swimming gear and let’s dive in.
In 1998, the underwater psychological sci-fi mystery horror thrill known as Sphere came onto the scene. Based on a Michael Crichton novel, Sphere is the story of a group of scientists who investigate a mysterious spacecraft 1000 feet beneath the water. Not to spoil anything, but they find a giant sphere and mayhem ensues. And though we come to understand that the sphere causes people’s dreams to manifest in reality, the film is really more of a study in stress and paranoia. While the characters do manage to dream up some scary encounters with giant squid, jellyfish and some weird “nocturnal” sea snakes, these are not the real moments of drama. Rather, the moments when the characters start to accuse each other of lies, betrayal and confusion are the film’s strongest. Part of this might be due to the fact that the film has a more acting driven cast, as compared to a more action-themed cast. Leading the film you have Dustin Hoffman who, from time to time, actually is a fantastic actor. Obviously, Sphere is not one of finest moments but he does lend some legitimacy to our connection to the characters and their predicament.
Where the film falls flat is that leaves you feeling bizarrely unsatisfied. For the most part, all of the major questions are answered but something seemed terribly amiss to me when the credits began to roll. Some of the major questions regarding Samuel L. Jackson’s character are left unanswered; and for a film about a sunken spaceship, very little time is actually spent discussing said spaceship. It seemed to me that no one in the film was asking the big, glaring questions any normal person would. But I guess if you’re under the influence of an interstellar golden-swirly ball 1000 feet under the ocean, we can cut you some slack. This film is by no means great. It’s long and slow but it is a nice change of pace when it comes to sci-fi movies. Aside from the really annoying interstitial titles that felt like commercial breaks, most of my gripes with this film stem from lack in satisfaction with the answers provided. But I guess if we were to ever encounter an alien entity or an unknown spacecraft, I doubt all of our questions would be answered to our liking.
Now let’s go see Prometheus!
And how was my descent into the Dark Depths? Well, like Sphere, it was an odd experience that left me with some questions. From my understanding, Baltic IPAs (BeerAdvocate labels this beer as a Baltic Porter) were born many years ago from shipping porters long distance by sea. The long travel time altered the nose and flavor of the original beer and inspired this style of beer. With that, I guess it explains the Dark Depths unusual flavor. It pours very dark with a chocolatey head that is reminiscent of a stout or porter. When you first taste it, you get hit with that rich maltiness of a porter. However, as the taste finishes on the back of your tongue, you get that hint of bitterness that you could identify as IPA-ish. It’s faint, but it’s definitely there. The whole experience is quite smooth and the 7.6% ABV doesn’t hurt either. And though the beer taste pretty good, I felt like the two aspects of the beer, the porter and the IPA, weren’t meshing as well as they should. It was good, but maybe I thought it should be better or more special than it actually was. But fortunately for me, Sam Adams makes about 239048 other fantastic beers, so I’ll be seeing them again soon.
So let’s come back up to the surface here and just review our thoughts here. Sphere was an interesting yet ultimately unsatisfying movie experience. The premise is interesting and the character interactions are pretty strong, but a lot of key questions are left unanswered. For Sam Adams’ Dark Depths, I was also left a bit confused by the combination of the malty smoothness of a porter with a fruity, bitterness of an IPA. It wasn’t a bad beer but I was left a bit perplexed.
And for those who are counting, our next BAAM review will be our 50th! Crazy! And it’s been pretty much a year since I started this thing too! Wild! Exclamation! And while I’m not sure if I’ll be a doing a big celebration for the big 5-0, I will try my best to make the review something special. And I’ll be thanking you all profusely. Sorry in advance.
Thanks for reading and, as always, keep drinking my friends!
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Samuel Adams’ Dark Depths:
-Deep, dark color
-Mostly porter with hints of IPA in the finish
-Good beer but not a great beer
-Claustrophobic sci-fi underwater nightmare mystery thriller starring Dustin Hoffman…
-Intriguing yet unsatisfying answers & conclusion.
-Surprisingly lack of sphere in Sphere.