Skip to content

Dreamscape (1984) Review

I have always been a fan of films that take place in someone’s dream. It is a unique way to tell a story and can be very effective if done well. Dreamscape is a film that takes place entirely in someone’s dream. The dreamer is Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid), a man who is having nightmares of people being killed. He is then recruited by the government to enter people’s dreams and help them with their nightmares.

The film is directed by Joseph Ruben and also stars Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, and Kate Capshaw. Ruben does a great job of creating a dreamlike atmosphere and keeping the viewer engaged. The acting is also top-notch, with Quaid giving a particularly strong performance.

Perhaps one of the lesser known sci-fi classics of the 80’s, Dreamscape has gathered itself a nice cult following over the years and it’s easy to see why. Laden with over the top metaphysical, multicolour montages and bewildering (and sometimes horrid) cognitive monstrosities, it serves as a good example of how to explore man’s deeper cognitive recesses without becoming overly cerebral. Let me rephrase that… It serves as a good example of how to show an exciting and often thoughtful dream sequence without going all David Lynch on our asses. Dreamscape doesn’t engage in ‘high brow cinema’, it has it’s feet firmly stamped into the popcorn munching, everyday cinema-goers domain. That’s where we’d be.

The cast is awesome, some very memorable faces from the 80’s make an appearance, you got Kate Capshaw (around about the same time she went swash bucking with Indiana Jones), she plays Jane DeVries, a research assistant and main love interest to Dennis Quaid’s character.  There’s also George Wendt (of Cheers fame) who’s the one that tips off Alex to the fact that all is not so rosie sweet with his new found home at the institute. Then there is David Patrick Kelly, who has to be one of the best actors going for playing bad guys in my opinion. Anyone who has seen The Warriors will know what I’m talking about. To note all of the cast put in superb performances, very solid, Max Von Sydow is as a strong and stellar a performer as he’s always been.

To sum it all up Dreamscape is without a doubt an enjoyable movie. It could be a bit confusing and boring for the more hyperactive viewer, but most others who appreciate good characters and good plot,  should enjoy it. The special effects are showing their age somewhat although having grown up in the 80’s this was not a problem for me. Honestly i thought it added some charm to the flick and was nice relief from the hum drum CGI that gets lapped around thick these days. This would probably be an awesome flick if it was made today with 3D, not that I’m a big fan of 3D to be honest, but seeing the dreamscapes put into the 3rd dimension should be awesome (maybe James Cameron will do the remake :P).

Dreamscape is an enjoyable film that is well-worth seeking out. It is a unique and fascinating experience that is sure to leave you dreaming.


In Dreamscape, Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is a young man with a special gift. He can enter into other people’s dreams and manipulate them. He is recruited by the government to use his ability to enter people’s nightmares and help them face their fears.

However, when a powerful and evil dreamwalker called “The Dream Master” (Max Von Sydow) starts using his abilities to control people’s minds, Alex must stop him before he takes over the world.

Dreamscape is an action-packed, special effects-filled thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Movie Details

Director: Joseph Ruben
Writer: David Loughery, Chuck Russell and Joseph Ruben
Actors: Dennis Quaid, Max Von Sydow, Kate Capshaw, George Wendt
Release Year: 1984