Science fiction that tries to be meaningful and deep and actually mean something but Barry Levinson's direction feel unfocused and he seem confused what he really wants to tell with the film Dustin Hoffman has been quoted as saying the film was incomplete and I have to join him in saying that his point is correct. Crucial moments feels edited out and effects look unfinished and the movie never feels "right".
Actually, the movie is not that bad. But it aims so high, it dares to be something almost like 2001, that we have to judge it like a big thing, not like a popcorn flick. It has good ideas, a very good premise. And ambition. Not the best story to develop the ideas that were on the table. And maybe that's what happens when you don't really have something important to say: you don't find a way to actually say it.
Place less importance on surface criticism and there can be much more to a film. In this way the bare-bones of a story are most interesting and rewarding - perhaps especially when it seems simple or silly. The structure here reflects a key problem in our collective psychology, e.g. the unconscious - blindspots, 'shadow' projection, fear, and the global conflict it all causes. The solution is honest self-awareness.
It has its virtues. The idea in the center, once revealed, is something very interesting that could work in pulp nautical horror storytelling, but its precious in presentation. If there ever was a film that needed to be just under 90 minutes, or a brave director behind it, its this film, especially when its ending unfortunately reminds one of the bad aspects of the infamous Dreamcatcher (2003) adaptation,
It's one of the great alchemical mysteries of Hollywood that you can take an Oscar-winning director, an Oscar-winning star, a bestselling novel that cries out for film treatment, and fairly low expectations, and end up with something so incredibly tone-deaf and awkward.