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Forget about the plot of this movie. Forget about the fact that it is wonderfully acted by Vince Vaughn and Vincend D'Onofrio. Forget about the fact that it is one of the few movies starring Jennifer Lopez that I can stomach. Although the story may be impossible to believe and much of the dialogue seems contrived, the one and only important thing to remember when contemplating watching this movie is that it contains some of the most amazing and disturbing imagery ever put on film. It is as if Salvador Dali decided to make a crime drama. A must see for anyone seriously interested in cinematography and the use of the film cell as a canvas on which to display true works of visual art. I would have to give this movie a 9/10 for it's amazing visual display.
The last time I reviewed a film helmed by a music video director, I was
angry at what I'd seen (`Mystery Men'), but Tarsem Singh spares us the
fish-eye lenses and commercial overindulgences and decides to concentrate
presenting an astonishing visual and audible journey into the mind of a
serial killer in `The Cell'.
Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) kills women by drowning them in glass cells, all the while videotaping the event. Afterwards, he disfigures the bodies to resemble dolls and then tosses the finished `products' off highways into ditches and streams. Nice guy. He also likes to suspend himself on chains attached to hooks inserted directly into his back. Lovely.
Meanwhile, FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) is hot on the killer's trail, and although Carl's started to get sloppy, he's just kidnapped another girl and she has 40 hours before her cell fills with water. Carl is soon apprehended, but only because he enters into a schizophrenic seizure and falls into a coma on his kitchen floor. A coma? But how are they going to find out where the last victim is? Oh, if only they could TRAVEL INSIDE HIS MIND. Hey, what a coincidence! Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a child psychologist involved in an experimental project that allows her to TRAVEL INSIDE THE MIND of coma victims.
And so begins a strange array of visuals and sounds, blended together so unusually that you honestly feel like you're experiencing a dream a not so pleasant dream. Not only is Carl's mind slightly twisted, it's violent, disturbingly sexual, and very graphic. But, it's also like a train wreck; you can't help but look. Oddly enough, Mr. Singh clearly had the resources to make his special effects scream out at you with bright color and absurd lavishness, but he chose instead to simplify, placing the terror in the scale and content of the visuals. I can't even use an example. All I can say is think about a dream you've had that you couldn't describe to someone, and that's what watching this movie is like. The photography is so stunning that it virtually eliminates the need for dialogue (only about half the film has discourse), and coupled with the horrifically spooky and scathing soundtrack, the film literally takes on a life of its own.
My only objection is that when all is said and done, the only character we really understand is the serial killer. Several clues about the other characters' pasts led me to believe that their lives would come into play and that their own memories would be tested and confronted. To me, this would have taken this story to yet another psychological level, but perhaps it would have been too much for viewers.
Despite this shortcoming, `The Cell' stills provides a myriad of images that will make you want to watch a lot of cute cartoons before turning in for the night. Still, I don't know what was more disturbing: the movie, or the parents in the next row over who brought their two small kids to watch it.
I've said before that some films are like `nothing you have ever seen
before'. Well, The Cell takes that saying and burns it down, blows it up and
drowns it. This movie is something you could and can be only imagined. And
you then told someone about it they'd have you locked up for a very long
time. It could be categorized as a Sci-fi thriller and then as a serial
killer film. Like Seven and Silence of the Lambs this is not the ordinary
serial killer film. It stands on it's own as a new kind of thriller.
Jennifer Lopez stars as Catherine Deane, the best psychotherapist in the business. She works for a company who has developed the latest technology in therapy. She has the ability to go inside the mind of anyone and find out the reasoning to his or her distress. Enter Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn), a FBI agent tracking down a very sick serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio), who drowns his victims then dresses them up like dolls. On a FBI raid of his home Stargher goes into a coma and the whereabouts of his next victim are unknown. So Deane takes the job of going into his mind to find out where the victim is being held. And that's when this film gets intense, seriously intense.
The director Tarsem Singh, known for the award winning R.E.M. video `Losing my Religion', blows away everything you could have imagined. The dream sequences are beautifully shot with many camera tricks, creepy color distribution, graphic images, and a tense score. They are extremely trippy and surreal. They actually have a dream feel because anything goes and there are no rules. Lopez performance is as good as she looks. She nails the psychotherapist dead on and does a great job in showing the different aspects of her character. Vince is Vince, very cool, very low key, and very real. D'Onofrio will scare you. His Carl Stargher would make even Hannibal Lecter scream for mommy. This guy is more disturbed than ever imagined. He has to be seen to believe it.
Tarsem, with this film, has become one of my favorite directors and I will go see any film with his name on it. The Cell can only be described as a Sci-fi serial killer thriller that's visually disturbing, creepy, and one of the wildest films ever. It runs along the line with Seven for a good serial killer film and Event Horizon for a graphically sick and twisted film. This is best summer movie and the best film I've seen all year.
The last film that provided a vivid and disturbing look at what insanity is
probably like was In Dreams. In that movie, you didn't see insanity, you
were THERE. Now The Cell comes along with an updated and much more
disturbing portrayal of the inside of the mind of a psychotic killer. The
opening scene takes you into the seemingly innocent mind of a comatose
little boy, and the things that Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) sees are
first fascinating and then terrifying. The things that she later sees in the
mind of Vincent Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) are amazingly imaginative and
fascinating, most of this stuff has never been seen in film
The story of The Cell is not exactly something that is really groundbreaking. In fact, it is basically the same as the story in The Silence of the Lambs. You have a killer in custody and these people have to enter his mind to find a female victim who is currently in danger of losing her life. The only real difference between the foundation of the plots is that in The Silence of the Lambs, you have to enter the mind of a killer to find a different killer as well as his current victim, while in The Cell, you have to enter the mind of a killer to find his own victim. However, despite the unfortunately weak story, The Cell completely revolutionizes the genre of the psychological thriller. None that have ever been made even come close to it.
Also, the film had good direction and was extremely well acted. Vince Vaughn delivers another of his characteristically excellent performances (he was even good as Norman Bates in the pathetic 1998 re-make of Psycho), and even Jennifer Lopez puts forth the second good effort of her career (the other being the great Out of Sight). Nothing can be said of the cinematography in The Cell to give it sufficient credit, it was imaginative and fascinatingly done and is unparalleled by anything ever seen in cinematic history. The Cell is an incredibly well-made film, and it deserves to be recognized.
'The Cell' is a journey into the mind of a serial killer and I mean
this literally. The film is about the journey, about the world it shows
during this journey, the destination does not really matter. In my
opinion this journey through the mind gives such beautiful images other
things do not really matter as long as they are not distracting. In
fact, the story is pretty good.
We start with Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) in the mind of a catatonic boy. How this works exactly does not really matter, but it looks a lot like virtual reality. She and other scientist including Henry West (Dylan Baker) and Miriam Kent (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) believe that this method might work. Catherine enters the mind of the boy and speaks with him there, in a world that is completely created by the boy. She hopes she can let him do things that in the end will give results.
The real story then. A serial killer named Carl (Vincent D'Onofrio) just dumped the body of one of his victims. FBI Agents Ramsey (Jake Weber) and Novak (Vince Vaughn) are on this case. Another girl (Tara Subkoff) disappears and at that time, after forensic research on the dumped body, Carl can be traced and captured. Two problems occur. 1. Carl just went into a coma; he has been sick for a long time. 2. His house and the house with his last kidnapped victim are not at the same place. In a way this part of the story is pretty standard.
Things are about to get interesting again. To find out where the girl is, Catherine has to go into Carl's mind. This is dangerous for a lot of reasons. In short: Carl is unknown territory, schizophrenic and a serial killer. If Catherine starts believing Carl's mind is the real world then her mind can convince her body; she could die in the mind of Carl. A tape of how the last victim was killed, a fate this girl will have in about twenty hours, makes sure Catherine will try to get the location out of Carl's mind.
It is the journey through this sick mind that makes this film more than worth watching. Director Tarsem Singh, who did music videos before this, in a way goes back to these music videos. Every room in the imaginative world is another short clip that exists out of beautiful and sometimes haunting images. For me the visual style felt completely new, the way 'Three Kings' had a new visual style one year earlier. If something like that can make you like a film, 'The Cell' will not disappoint. But fans of the thriller and horror genre can like this film anyway. The story itself, without the great fantasy world, is good enough for that. I think you have to be a little open minded, of course events are not (yet) possible in our real world. Still, a very entertaining film with nice ideas that looks terrific.
This movie is definitely a case of style over substance but the style
is good and certainly more than unique on its own to make "The Cell" a
memorable and above average movie.
"The Cell" is beautifully looking with impressive sets, costumes and make-up. Yes, it's real eye candy to watch all. The movie has some perfectly 'dreamy' sequences that are certainly odd but also very beautiful and imaginative to look at. This movie is a perfect mix of an art-house type of movie and a typical Hollywood-thriller, that is accessible to both fans of the genre.
The story itself is pretty far fetched and doesn't always make sense. Because of that the movie isn't always pleasant and likable to watch but like I mentioned before, the style compensates for this. The style makes you keep watching till the end and provides the best moments of the movie.
Vincent D'Onofrio is unforgettable as the serial-killer with a twisted mind. Vincent D'Onofrio is really underused as an actor and this movie shows his talent once more. I'm not particularly happy about the casting of Jennifer Lopez. I know that she can act in some of her movies but she really wasn't suitable to play the main character in this movie. Her character wasn't strong enough and she was overshadowed by Vincent D'Onofrio and Vince Vaughn. Still I felt that Vince Vaughn was also miscast in this movie. He didn't fit the role well enough and no, I'm not saying that because I'm used of seeing him only in comedies now days. The rest of the supporting cast is good and still give the movie a certain degree of credibility.
The musical score by Howard Shore was also surprising good and was sort of "Se7en" like at times. It suited the movie well and gave some of the scene's some extra mood and atmosphere.
It's a far from perfect movie and the concept is far fetched and not always handled in the right way. Still "The Cell" is a perfectly watchable movie and perhaps even a bit of a must see, due to its style, originality and creativity.
Style over substance. But what a style it is. "The Cell" is the
internal version of most serial killer movies. Unfortunately, the story
hardly supports the visuals.
Psychotherapist Catherine Deane (J-Lo) goes into her patients' dreams via artificial means to discover and help them over come their phobias and obsessions. A new patient whose fallen into a coma, is brought to her attention by the FBI. He's a serial killer who drowns his female victims then poses their bodies in grotesque scenarios like mannequins. Deane must enter the killer's mind and navigate through his sick fantasies in order to find and save his latest victim.
Director Tarsem Singh has incredible visions and set pieces for this production. Each dream sequence is like a nightmare-ish painting in motion, from the landscapes to the costumes.
But the plot suffers from lack of history of its characters. Stargher is the only person with a thorough background and he's the last person you want to care about. Without him, you basically have a movie that moves in the present tense only, which is a shame since the movie is so visually stunning and genuinely scary. Lopez is wasted but she's not that amazing an actress anyway, though she's as gorgeous as ever. And Vince Vaughn? I don't even know why he was chosen. This is not his forte and he overacts to boot. He tried too hard to become his character and it showed. Stick to comedy, Vince! Even so, this movie is so visually frightening, I still watch this movie with the lights on and can never fall asleep right away afterward.
This is one of the most beautiful horror films ever made. It is a dream to watch and a nightmare to consider. Jennifer Lopez is stunning in her role and is never out of character. She manages to be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. I just bought it on DVD, and the deleted scenes and the director's commentary are included. This is an artistic masterpiece and terrifying thriller, too. Don't miss it.
What makes watching and reviewing films a pleasure is when every once in a while when you least expect it a film like The Cell comes along and knocks your socks off!. This movie is a superb horror that has everything a you could want when you want to be scared out of your witts. Without going into the story all i will say is that it has a great beginning ,middle and end that keeps you on the edge of your seat while being transfixed with the amazing special affects. The acting is good without being outstanding but that does not matter because the subject matter and the way it is put on the big screen makes this one of the best horror movies i have seen for a long while. It is one of those films that you imagine started as a novel but saying the credits it does not look like an adaptation , so a lot of credit must go to Mark Protosovich the writer. 9 out of 10.
"The Cell" is an exotic masterpiece, a dizzying trip into not only the vast
mind of a serial killer, but also into one of a very talented director.
This is conclusive evidence of what can be achieved if human beings unleash
their uninhibited imaginations. This is boldness at work, pushing aside
thoughts to fall into formulas and cliches and creating something truly
magnificent. This is the best movie of the year to date.
I've read numerous complaints about this film, anywhere from all style and no substance to poorly cast characters and bad acting. To negatively criticize this film is to miss the point. This movie may be a landmark, a tradition where future movies will hopefully follow. "The Cell" has just opened the door to another world of imagination. So can we slam the door in its face and tell it and its director Tarsem Singh that we don't want any more? Personally, I would more than welcome another movie by Tarsem, and would love to see someone try to challenge him.
We've all heard talk about going inside the mind of a serial killer, and yes, I do agree that the "genre" is a bit overworked. The 90s were full of movies trying to depict what makes serial killers tick; some of them worked, but most failed. But "The Cell" does not blaze down the same trail, we are given a new twist, we are physically transported into the mind and presented with nothing less than a fascinating journey of the most mysterious subject matter ever studied.
I like how the movie does not bog us down with too much scientific jargon trying to explain how Jennifer Lopez actually gets to enter the brain of another. Instead, she just lies down on a laboratory table and is wrapped with what looks like really long Twizzlers and jaunted into another entity. "The Cell" wants to let you "see" what it's all about and not "how" it's all about, and I guess that's what some people don't like. True, I do like explanations with my movies, but when a movie ventures onto new ground you must let it do what it desires and simply take it in.
I noticed how the film was very dark when it showed reality, maybe to contrast the bright visuals when inside the brain of another. Nonetheless, the set design was simply astonishing. I wouldn't be surprised if this film took home a few Oscars in cinematography, best costumes, best director and the like. If it were up to me it'd at least get nominated for best picture.
I've noticed that I've kind of been repeating myself. Not because there's nothing else to say, but because I can't stress enough how fantastic I thought "The Cell" was. If you walk into the movie with a very open mind and to have it taken over with wonders and an eye-popping feast then you are assured a good time. I guess this film was just a little too much for some people, writing it off as "weird" or "crazy". I am very much into psychology and the imagination of the human mind, so it was right down my alley. Leaving the theater, I heard one audience member say "Whoever made that movie sure did a lot of good drugs." If so, I want what he was smoking.
**** (out of 4)
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