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If an alien vessel is found lying beneath the ocean just what sort of team should be assembled to greet its occupants. That is the question that the movie starts off trying to answer. Dustin Hoffman plays a psychologist that long ago was contracted by the goverment to write a paper about hypothetically meeting extraterrestrial entities in the future. Little to his knowledge his work became a literal guidebook on this subject that everyone seems to be taking very seriously despite the fact he wrote it largely while drunk and borrowed ideas from sci-fi author Isaac Asimov and others.

Hoffman is summoned via helicopter to a navy fleet in the ocean. He is told that there was an accident. He figures that survivors will need counseling which he is there for. He soon discovers that there was no accident but a mystery awaits him. He is introcuded to a female biochemist played by Sharon Stone, a pure mathematician played by Samuel Jackson, and an astrophysicist. Along with his expertise in psychology this team is the realization of the extraterrestrial team he wrote about only hypothetically in the past.

The team discovers that deep within the ocean lies a mammoth of a metallic craft whose origin can only be assumed alien. The four adventurers travel within the craft and discover that the gauges and readings onboard are in English and the craft features references to the United States and even a year. The data available suggests that either the craft is from the future or the founding fathers of America somewhow built it and crashed it. A giant sphere is found which seems to reflect everything except the reflections of the scientists that are looking at it. To the mathematician Samuel Jackson this means the sphere could be alive.

As the movie progresses the mathematician travels back to the vessel in secret and jouneys inside the sphere he marveled at earlier. He comes back really hungry and reallly awake. He goes into a period of sleep and then all hell breaks loose for everyone onboard the human submersible craft. On computer screens within this vessel a strange binary computer code appears on every monitor onboard. The mathematician reasons its a form of communication from some alien life form onboard the vessel they left earlier. The code is analyzed and a means of language is unraveled. The first words seen are "Hi my name is Jerry." The message is simple yet friendly but it implies emotion which Dustin Hoffman worries about. Just what will happen if they get this Jerry mad?

The movie continues with giant jellyfish attacking the ship, and fires and other disaster killing all of the crew except for the mathematician, the biochemist, and Dustin Hoffman the pschologist. Jerry the alien intelligence is believed to be responsible for everything. Through a series of amazing cerebrally intrictate discoveries it becomes evident that Jerry is a result of the mathematician's dreams and subconcious thoughts. Going into the sphere gave him the power to grant his own thoughts, and manifest his own dreams and reality. Jerry the alien intelligence everyone fears is in fact a dreaming mathematican Harry. When I realized that the very person who deciphered the "alien language" unknowingly created it by his own subconconcious thoughts I was amazed by the creativity of this story element.

The three humans left onboard also went into the metallic sphere long ago but have forgotten. Their dreams and thoughts threaten their existance as they could wipe each other out with but a single dream or thought. This awesome power was a gift from an advanced alien civilization.

In the end the three return to the ocean's surface after a storm had forced them to remain in the ocean's depths for some time. They prepare to be questioned about what happened to them by other military personnel. In a room together they decide that they will wish and will the gift they have been given away. The greatest gift in the history of man is just discarded because man is not ready.

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