The Philadelphia Experiment (2012) a (mildly) belated review

As you get older, you’re sometimes surprised to see remakes of films you enjoyed in your youth.  Especially films that might be, for the most part, forgotten by many.

Back in 1984, Michael Pare and Nancy Allen starred in The Philadelphia Experiment, a sci-fi romance involving a top secret experiment conducted on a battleship during World War II.  The experiment attempted to create an invisibility cloak around the battleship but instead sent it into the “present” of 1984, where Pare’s time-traveling sailor goes on the run avoiding shadowy government types while romancing Nancy Allen’s character.

It has been many, many years since I’ve seen this 1984 film but I recall having positive feelings about it.  Then, much to my surprise, I found The Philadelphia Experiment was remade and shown on the SyFy network last year!

So, is it worth your while?

If you’re a fan of the original film like I am, you’ll be curious enough to give it a try.  If you do, you may find some good here…though there is plenty of bad as well.

On the plus side, this film does more than simply re-shoot the original film’s script.  There are new ideas presented and while some don’t work very well there are interesting bits here and there.  I especially liked the idea of the WWII battleship appearing in different locations and causing some big problems.

There’s also some fun in seeing Michael Pare appear in this remake, though his character is far from the “hero” of the piece.


This is a SyFy original movie and if you’re familiar at all with SyFy original movies, then you know they share one thing in common:  Their budgets are one very small step above being non-existent.  This should be pretty evident in the “special” effects found in the trailer above.  In a movie like this one, which features some pretty crazy things the audience has to accept as happening, you need effects that at the very least look plausible.  There isn’t any “big” effect in the film that doesn’t look like what it is: A cheap computer graphic.

Secondly, and concurrently, the movie’s script is very ambitious and attempts to create a sense of world-wide threat.  Yet in total we have only about eight or so major characters (including a small cameo by Malcolm McDowell…perhaps that’s where the bulk of the budget went!), which again makes one realize this is a film made on a micro-mini-budget.

In the end, I can’t recommend 2012’s The Philadelphia Experiment except to those, like me, who have some nostalgia toward the original and are curious to see this new iteration.  This is a no-budget film with some genuinely clumsy effects and at times amateurish direction (check out the way our heroes get past a military roadblock…its a real howler).

Too bad.  With a more decent budget, this could have been a far better film.