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The Cell

Oh jesus I wanted to like this movie. I am a big fan of the artists, and shit if this one isn’t made by some kind of artist. I guess the dude is a mtv music video director named Tarsem. At first I thought “Holy shit Tarsem is directing now? I thought he was dead.” Then I remembered I was thinking of Sabu. Tarsem is a different guy.

Anyway this movie is about as pretty as I’ve ever seen when Tarsem lets loose. There are fantasy world imageries of magic horses and deserts and sailboats and the virgin Mary and weird doll people and little skeleton horses and evil clowns tying a dude’s intestines to a music box and etc. These don’t look like any movie I’ve seen before, they are bright and weird and perfectly designed like some kind of psychedelic painting, the ones made by a real master artist not just some hippie that paints mushrooms and mad hatters and hangs them up at the local cafe. I’m talking the real deal.

The CellI mean this movie is great to hang on your wall but it’s not great to sit and watch. Who the fuck cares how pretty it is when all the movie is is a bad episode of Millennium. What it’s about is Eccentric Serial Killer (Vincent D’Onofrio) does Weird Torture Ritual to Young Girls (see Cabin By the Lake review above for similar serial killer shenanigans), gets caught exactly as he has a seizure and goes into a coma. So Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn use virtualistic reality type machines to go into his dream world and try to get him to admit where he has his last victim locked up. But then they just figure it out anyway without his help and then she stabs him and there is a bunch of weird ass shit that happens and then the movie ends and as far as anybody can remember, there wasn’t really much of a story.

The pacing in this movie is not exactly strong. This is one of the movies where the good guy starts killing the bad guy and you think, “Oh, this must be the end part.”

The characterization is also nothing to write home about. There is a couple lines of dialogue where they explain what tragic event in their past caused them to do the job they are doing now. But that’s about it. Jennifer Lopez is supposed to be this great psychologist or something but you can’t stop staring at her lips. I’m pretty sure the lipstick companies helped fund this movie, there is really no other explanation for how distracting the lipstick is. Jennifer really knows how to act but in this one she is just being a model. It works great for the fantasy world where she is more of a painting than a person, but in the real life scenes I would like her to do some kind of talking and emoting in between modelling.

It’s really kind of sad that the movie Seven has now become a whole genre. I thought that movie was pretty fucking creepy. Good job David Fincher. But I don’t want to see the dark shadowy but also hip and stylish but also unexpectedly gruesome serial killer movie of the month. enough with the serial killers hollywood, we get the idea. they are creepy and weird and when you go to the house there is a weird collage on the wall. You have to go out into the sunny desert to find where their hideout is. enough already.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 18th, 2000 at 4:40 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “The Cell”

  1. After The Cell, Tarsem made The Fall, supposedly with his own money. Have you seen it? It’s kind of like Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Princess Bride, filmed as an extremely long commercial for either perfume, jeans, a trip to India or the newest Björk album or something. It’s pretty and shallow, but it has its moments.

  2. I really like THE FALL. Not only on a shallow “wow, that’s pretty!” level, but also on an emotional level. The little girl in it is probably the best child actor(ess) I’ve ever seen. When I saw THE CELL, I thought it was a piece of shit, but that Tarsem obviously had a great film in him, and I personally feel THE FALL proved me right.

    Aww, I’ve just remembered I was really keen to show THE FALL to a family member who just died ):

  3. Granted, the little girl is great. But the movie relied a little bit too heavily on “Oh look, that character might be dead, so the little girl is crying, doesn’t it just break your heart to see that poor cute 5 year old cry like that?” sequences to really work for me on an emotional level.

  4. Tarsem’s new one might be good too. It’s about the Greek pantheon of Gods or something, which seems well suited to his skill set. Should be more interesting than CLASH OF THE TITANS at least.

  5. Never seen “The Fall”, but I really, really, really hated “The Cell”. Of all the movies I saw in my student days, this is the one I remember disturbing me the most. And yet the sheer pointlessness and nonsensicalness of the whole thing annoyed me.

  6. spoiler-free reviewish notes on IMMORTALS 3D:
    It’s skippable for the most part, but it does have some things going for it:

    -Mickey Rourke torturing and enslaving people

    -Freida Pinto and her naked body double

    -A pretty good climactic 3-simultaneous-fights-edited-together sequence, which is brutal and satisfying.

    The action is not bad, but nothing memorable. No shaky cam, the slo-mo is used for the purpose of showing that the gods operate on a different kind of time & speed than their victims, and the bad guys are actually skilled & scary when they attack. Yes, there are at least 2 moments when a guy has a chance to finish his opponent, but instead he hovers and says something, allowing the other guy to catch his breath and make a counterattack. Also there’s a couple things with the geography of the final battle that made no sense to me, along the same lines as in THE EXPENDABLES when the team transported from the US to the island suddenly with no explanation.

    The imagery & art direction filmatism is the same — good, but not memorable. It has some fun Tarsem touches (ridiculous headdresses, vast landscapes, zooming out from vast landscapes to reveal even vaster landscapes), but they add no thematic depth or anything, and the relationship between CGI stuff and the physical sets is a bit strained. There’s a distinct lack of epicness to most of the dialogue and most of the human elements, and for that I blame not only the script but the smallness of the sets and the drab gray-brown color scheme.

    So my recommendation is to somehow catch just the last 20 minutes of IMMORTALS 3D, but I know the Freida Pinto fans and Tarsem believers will want to see the whole thing. Could be worse.

  7. I thought that the first half of THE FALL was amazing but the second half was all over the map and is just annoying.

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