- Hi, A few mild SPOILERS ahead...... Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a child psychologist whom is using an experimental technique to treat comatoseMessage 1 of 2 , Sep 1, 2003View SourceHi,A few mild SPOILERS ahead......
Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a child psychologist whom is using an experimental technique to treat comatose patients. The technique involves entering the patients psyche to try and bring them out of their state. When FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) finally tracks down a killer (Vincent DOnofrio) who drowns women before turning them into living dolls, he is horrified to discover that he suffers from a rare brain condition and has entered a coma. In a last gasp effort to save the latest victim Novak turns to Deane and her experimental process, can they get the information they need in time?
I first saw The Cell some two years ago, back then I recall thinking that whilst the dream sequences were visually stunning and very effective the rest of the film was drastically sub-par. Some poor acting, wafer thin characterisation and a creaky script were a few of my major complaints. Have my opinions of the film changed? Nope, not one bit.
It may be a well worn cliché, but the phrase style over content may never be more fitting for a film than this one. Video/commercial director Tarsem (He made REMs Losing My Religion, keep an eye out for a fair approximation of the videos set in this film) clearly has a good eye and the many surreal dream sequences are very impressive. S&M is the order of the day for the most part, chains, hooks etc. Its like a cross between Hellraiser and a Salvador Dali painting.
As the film moves on the dream sequences grow more and more intense and at times are fairly graphic, with more than a smidge of gore. Tarsem also enforces the feeling that we are watching a dream by introducing dreamlike elements such as slow motion, reverse motion, locations rapidly changing and other things that we have all experienced in our own dreams. The real world has its share of style as well with lots of swooping cameras, flash sets and slow-mo choppers.
Indeed the film is easy on the eye to an incredibly impressive degree, but sadly the rest of the film fails at almost every opportunity. The acting is almost universally below par. Jennifer Lopez (this is pre J-Lo abbreviating) showed in Out of Sight that she can at times produce the goods, but she is pretty bad here. Nice to look at, but she is so low key she almost disappears. Did I believe she was a highly qualified child psychologist? Not for a second, and certainly not when she was smoking pot in just her underwear (that scene served what purpose exactly?).
I like Vince Vaughn as an actor, but he is horribly miscast here. He can mess up his hair and not shave for a couple of days all he wants, but I never once bought that this guy was a hardened FBI agent. He has one monologue that shows promise, when he tells his history to Mrs Affleck, he even hints that he may once have been a victim of child abuse. There was potential here to open up his character and build on the abuse idea, but it is completely abandoned and never mentioned again. This is typical of the wafer thin characters that script writer Mark Protosevich has created. The actors are spitting in the wind with this kind of writing by numbers.
The one character that was in the least bit interesting was Vincent DOnofrios killer. Through dream sequences we see his abusive childhood and we learn something of his motivations. He hangs himself by rings attached to his back (I could ask how he got them there, but thats nitpicking) and masturbates over the dead girls bodies after he has made them up like dolls (a scene cut from the US version of the film, but available as a deleted scene on the DVD). This guy has serious problems and through DOnofrios powerful performance (and that of the kid playing his younger self) we get to learn something of what drives him.
Aside from the weak characterisation the script is incredibly ham fisted. It continuously force feeds the audience exposition when it is clear to anyone with eyes what is happening. Also, some of the stuff that comes from Vince Vaughns mouth is unbelievable. I cant imagine anyone spouting some of the trite nonsense that he does, never mind an FBI agent. Ultimately due to a combination of these factors I didnt really care what happened to any of the characters outside of the girl trapped in the titular Cell.
Nice visuals, a suitably haunting soundtrack from Howard Shore and a powerhouse performance from DOnofrio are about all this film has in its favour. The sci-fi elements are like a bad Outer Limits episode and the Serial Killer hunt pales in comparison to Seven or any of the Lector films. Indulge yourself in the superlative visuals, but dont expect much else to enjoy.
4/10 for The Cell.
Dude, that hockey goalie was pissed about something.
Kyle Labine as Freeburg in Freddy Vs. Jason, (2003).
- I admitted right from the start that The Cell was not a great movie. However, as you judge it, please take into consideration that Tarsem s intention wasMessage 2 of 2 , Sep 2, 2003View SourceI admitted right from the start that "The Cell" was not a great
movie. However, as you judge it, please take into consideration that
Tarsem's intention was *style* and not substance. The whole serial
killer story was a ruse to get the film made, since that genre was so
hot a few years ago.
I think all the director ever wanted was to put his vision out
there. The studio wants a serial killer movie? Sure, that can be
the backdrop. They'll give him money as long as he takes the script,
too? Sure, we can fit a script in somewhere. A few compromises here
and there, but basically, Tarsem accomplished what he set out to do.
Now, I don't believe a film should be given a free pass just because
it accomplishes it's mission...Sometimes the mission is stupid in the
first place. But I think we should give a little credit that the
creators at least had a vision.
This past summer, I liked "T3" and didn't like the "The Hulk."
However, I can admit that T3 was solely intended to make money.
There was no real artist at work there. The Hulk, on the other hand,
while the studio certainly wanted it make money, became Ang Lee's
canvas. Personally, I think Ang Lee's vision is b-o-r-i-n-g, but at
least he has a vision. T3 was typical paint by numbers Hollywood
junkfood (that I did happen to enjoy).
The style was the whole point of The Cell, the story was always
secondary. From the opening moments of the movie, I couldn't take my
eyes off of it and I think that's because the images *do* have a
substance all their own. I actually don't consider this a movie so
much as a set of animated paintings.
Maybe I'm giving the director too much credit. And I'm probably in
over my head here, cuz I sure ain't no damn art critic. I don't know
art, I just know what I like, right? Still, there's something about
The Cell that elevates above the average Hollywood pablum.
And for Matt, if you drill down through the menus, there's a series
of special effects vignettes and in one of those ("Second
entry"? "Re-entry"? Something like that.) you can get a brief
glimpse of J.Lo's cootchie. And isn't that worth the price of
admission by itself? :-)