My Science Project (1985)
Director: Jonathan R. Betuel
Starring: John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens & Dennis Hopper
Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Fearing ineligibility to graduate from high school, My Science Project centers on grease monkey Michael Harlan (John Stockwell, Radioactive Dreams) as he scours for a science project to avoid flunking. Searching a military junkyard, Michael uncovers an extraterrestrial device that unleashes a dimensional time warp of past, present and future danger upon Michael’s sleepy town. Faced against unfathomable power, Michael and his friends must devise a way to close the vortex before their world is permanently jeopardized. Daniella von Zerneck (La Bamba), Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit) and Dennis Hopper (Apocalypse Now) co-star.
Released in the wake of Robert Zemeckis’ game-changing Delorean starring adventure, My Science Project is the other time-traveling effort of 1985. Raiding a military junk pile proves fruitful for teenage mechanic Michael Harlan (Stockwell) whose biggest dilemmas are failing to graduate and the embarrassment of other students knowing his wheels broke down. Desperate to pass anything off that remotely looks scientific for a project, Michael’s encounter with a weirdly illuminated device becomes even odder after electrically frying countless appliances within its reach. Stumped at its purpose, Michael and his Brooklyn-born buddy Vince Latello (Stockwell) find themselves personally affected after the contraption speeds up time, making the duo miss their final exam. With nowhere to turn, Michael leans on his hilariously hippie-like science teacher, referred to simply as Bob (Hopper), for help as the globe-shaped instrument unexpectedly reveals its full power. Opening a dangerous vortex where the past and future can materialize, Michael, along with his bookish love interest Ellie Sawyer (Zerneck), Vince and class nerd Sherman (Raphael Sbarge, Risky Business) must cut the power supply to save humanity.
Tightly budgeted yet, supplying admirable visual effects for its size, My Science Project is a fun teenage adventure with far less emphasis on its time traveling element than proposed. Fisher Stevens steals the thunder from the headlining Stockwell with his quotable lines while, Easy Rider’s Dennis Hopper hams up his free love mantra for the MTV generation. While the film’s MacGuffin creates countless fireworks for the screen, its true harm isn’t fully exposed until the third act when the Viet Cong, post-apocalyptic mutants and dinosaurs go head to head with Michael and his machine gun carrying cohorts. Although introducing added eye-candy, the historical antagonists’ appearances take place a tad too late and leave a slightly underwhelming effect. Making groovy pop culture nods with high school hooligans rocking stormtrooper helmets and boob tube cameos from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Davy Crockett, My Science Project is a moderately radical time where teenage heroes take on the whirlwind of scientific insanity.
Mill Creek Entertainment presents My Science Project with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Appearing softer during early 1957 set sequences and visual effects moments before improving slightly, skin tones are average-looking with moderate levels of dirt and debris on hand. Meanwhile, black levels fall on the grainier side with visibility not impossible yet, largely unimpressive. Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, dialogue is audible while, its mono presentation underwhelms machine gun fire and soundtrack selections including Scandal’s “The Warrior”, making otherwise more impactful moments sound far too flat for taste. Expectedly, no special features have been included.