THE CELLMOVIE REVIEW
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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
For those of you who haven't seen the movie trailer for THE CELL from New Line Cinema it is the story of a child therapist, played by Jennifer Lopez (BLOOD AND WINE, ANACONDA, ANGEL EYES), who goes inside the mind of a comatose serial killer (Vincent D'Onorfio: ED WOOD, STRANGE DAYS, MEN IN BLACK, THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR) to find the location of his last victim. An experimental technology is used to allow the therapist access to the killer's mind. The third key character is a FBI detective played expertly by Vince Vaughn.
The opening of the movie let's us know right away that we're in for some fantastic visuals. The basic story from beginning to end unfolds, resolving the major points by the time the movie ends. Along the way we are carried away and disturbed by the haunting images revealed through the inner mind sequences. Without going too deeply into the storyline, the promise of the commercials for THE CELL is fulfilled.
We all know how well Jennifer Lopez looks in clothes, although this is not a modeling movie we are given enough of her physicality to satisfy. The costumes are wildly surrealistic for what we would expect if technology gave us the ability to enter another's dreams (or nightmares). Her acting is solid and communicates the depth of character that we're allowed to see (back to this later). She brings us into the therapist's caring nature, making us feel the character's need to heal or at least understand what makes someone sick and do sick things.
Vincent D'Onofrio plays the serial killer, revealing levels of what at first glance seems to be a unredeemable evil guy. The many factors that make us the people we are come through: childhood, organic and society influences.
This is no idealized movie, we are not asked to forgive the killer's actions, the final judgement is not soft and sweet. Although the killer and his madness are the center stage, Vince Vaughn makes us care about the detective and through his character shows us an alternative reaction to bad stimulus.
The interaction between the detective and therapist is played with sensitivity by the actors. We believe their different approaches to the killer. The acting was very good, across the board. The last victim's behavior was very credible in the circumstances of her imprisonment, she was no wilting flower.
Being a writer holds me back from calling this a fantastic movie. There were plot points that were introduced and then barely explored. I wonder if they were filmed and ended up on the cutting room floor because someone decided they would slow the story, if so, I look forward to the uncut version on DVD.
Detective Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn: THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, PSYCHO ) tells us he had a horrifying childhood, yet we barely see the demons of this past in the interior world created by the technology of the story. If a writer introduces something so enticing in a tale it should be used or the reader feels unsatisfied. Are movies exempt from this rule?
As well as Jennifer Lopez played the therapist there were only a couple of tiny glimpses into her life, past or present. We see the caring she gives her patients but not much about what influences from her past made her the person she is today. Lopez played her as if she knew the background but we don't get enough hints to fill in the pieces.
In the end, the non-writer in me enjoyed this movie on many levels. Perhaps the writer part picked at the points above because I wanted the movie to be even more. No matter, see the movie and decide for yourself, the images will scare you, the action will thrill, for most folks thats more than enough.
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