on 6 July 2015
Incredible blu-ray transfer for this psychological thriller directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Jennifer Lopez. Taking the theme of entering into the twisted mind of a serial killer - an exciting and demanding idea in itself - very seriously, "The cell" is a bold and extravagant portrayal of a visionary artist's concept. Blending many styles and genres, this is one of the first serial killer features to take the genre in a new direction. Tarsem allows himself to take liberties with reality and imagination, and puts his artistic rein to good use. He also shows an exceptional talent for storytelling. He leaves much to the imagination of the viewer as definite answers are not provided but instead suggested by the imagery he so skillfuly creates by drawing upon various works of art, producing a visually stunning movie, almost too heavy in spectacle. As overdrawn or forced, however, there is also thought-provoking as well as disturbing material to relish, preventing many from branding this a nonsense, superficial flick. Actually, "The cell" caters for everybody, offering sci-fi, horror, mystery, crime, drama, and art, all woven masterfully to create a captivating and fascinating cinematic experience, often unfairly dismissed as a JLo movie. Includes bonus features different to those previously available on the DVD. An amazing and unforgettable film, and a great blu-ray all around!
on 14 January 2001
The Cell is a director's film. It is extravagant and imaginative, bold in its use of color and textures captured by the lens. The subject explores the deep recesses of the mind of a serial killer and in doing so, takes liberties with the real and unreal. The end result is a fantastic cinema tapestry that would delight any artist. The movie is an interesting hybrid of genres. It's part science fiction, part crime story and part psychological thriller. Jennifer Lopez is Catherine Deane, a child psychologist working for an experimental research facility whose techniques involve mental teleportation, allowing doctor and patient to interface in the subconscious realm. Quirky indeed, but great food for sci-fi thought in our current cyber age. The premise allows for free artistic reign put to good use by Tarsem. Vincent D'Onofrio plays Carl Stargher, the psychotic killer who drowns his female victims in a cell chamber before transforming them into dolls to fulfill his sadistic fantasies... Stargher is captured early in the film but a coma prevents him from disclosing the whereabouts of his latest victim to the FBI team, led by Vince Vaughn. The imagery in costume, makeup and set design is both ornate and horrific in the mind sequences, making footage of the real world drab in comparison. The colors are lush and surreal and at times, I suspected David Lynch to be somewhere behind the scenes. Many visual comparisons could be made to Twin Peaks or the X-Files or other contemporary works that explore the dark forces of the unknown. The acting is secondary to production in this picture (with the exception of D'Onofrio). Stand here. Do this. Say this. The actors are just along for the ride on this one, although I will say that this is one vehicle that seems to fit Lopez to perfection as it magnifies the actress's dual persona of sultry woman and haut-couture diva. Since most of the compelling drama occurs in the mental realm, it is difficult to find much fault in the plot. After all, how can you critique imagination? The Cell is a visually mesmerizing and graphic film, intended for mature audiences.
on 10 April 2006
Although "The Cell" is far from perfect, I think the previous reviews are far too negative. This movie is certainly not for everyone, as it departs quite a long way from the standard templates in which most violent thrillers are cast. An extremely violent, uninhibited killer (Vincent D'Onofrio as Carl Stargher) is caught by police - but where is his latest victim, who is probably still alive? Searching and forensic examination yield no useful pointers, and Stargher himself thwarts detectives by withdrawing into a near-coma.
This is where Lopez' character, psychologist Catherine Deane, volunteers to enter the killer's warped mind using a machine she has invented. (You have to suspend disbelief to accept this improbably advanced technology). As might be expected, once she gets in there the balance of power is radically altered. Stargher's mind calls the shots, and the familiar limitations of physical law cease to apply. Literally anything that can be imagined may occur - including some things you might prefer not to imagine. Deane struggles to communicate with Stargher's more vulnerable and accessible manifestations, while realising that the violent, uncompromising fragment of his personality may obliterate her at any moment. Eventually she loses control, and FBI agent Peter Novak is forced to penetrate Stargher's mind in a desperate rescue attempt (he is absolutely unqualified for the task).
There is a fascinating parallel between "The Cell" and Roger Zelazny's brilliant science fiction novella "The Dream Master", published in 1966. Anyone who is interested in the core idea of a psychologist experiencing patients' minds through virtual reality should check out readers' reviews of "The Dream Master" here on Amazon; it gets a 4.5 star average, which is rather better than "The Cell".
I would unhesitatingly give "The Cell" five stars, but it does occasionally seem to lose focus. Perhaps there is not a big enough market for this kind of work: not enough people who read books like "The Dream Master" also watch movies like "The Cell". To me, it is just as compelling and memorable as Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon" and "Manhunter", the excellent film that was based on it.
on 1 May 2001
I had no idea what to expect when I watched this, so just let the film carry me. It was predictable, but not in a way that got on my nerves or ruined the film. What struck me was the sheer imagination that had gone into it. It's a very graphic film, but astounding in it's projection to the audience. Jennifer Lopez annoys the pants off me, but she suited this part down to the ground, as the social worker with a difference. Her acting wasn't the brightest of the movie though. Hat off to Vincent D'Onfrio for an incredible portrayl of a seriously warped serial killer. The beauty of going into his mind, is that you understand his beginnings, and it creates great empathy. It was a great shame that the script and storyline weren't better - the amount of creative effort deserved more balance. Worth watching for the special effects, but don't expect it to change your life!
on 4 June 2016
The rules of polite discourse forbid describing the manner in which the serial killer treats his victims post mortem. I found this very disturbing and had to look away.
However....once our Jennifer gets into the mind of the killer - literally! - it becomes a visual feast. Jenny (see, I like her so much I am becoming familiar) is a very deep and empathetic psychotherapist who is treating a child in coma through entering his mind. This happens through a machine that sort of provides a Vulcan mind meld without the pointy ears. The killer (who is not the child - pay attention!) has been apprehended only he is in a coma and they fear another victim is hidden and waiting to die, as he leaves them on a timer, in peril for their lives, awaiting his return to satisfy his eminently depraved tastes. The only way to find out where this woman is is for our Jen to enter his mind and tease it out of his damaged mind and rampant, dreaming unconscious, (This is a rather Freudian film viewer be warned.)
Which our valiant heroine does at considerable personal risk as she may not return, for if she is killed in situ then she dies in real life, rather like Neo in The Matrix.
At this point all the idiocy of the premise, and the rather cloying emotionalism of resident super-empath Lady J, dissolves.
The film becomes a feast of imagination and visual beauty, as it takes place in the unconscious of the killer. Cue 'need for suspension of disbelief'. Achieve this, and the film is well worth your time, even if - as per normal - the killer does what he does because of 'early childhood abuse' which is rather like the punchline in the weekly joke in Criminal Minds '....the killer is a white Caucasian male age 25 - 40.....'.
A triumph of form over content, I suppose.
on 28 August 2014
This opera prima of Tarsem is one real crazy (in a good way and bad word)
Introduce someone in another mind during sleep, ring a bell?
Personally, I think that the premise is great and the way in which also begins the film.
Visually it is a delicacy in the beautiful scenes and the more gore, the costumes and makeup are spectacular and the soundtrack also.
Reminded me (aesthetically) to the work of Salvador Dalí, the horse scene seems taken from the famous and controversial exhibition of corpses "Body Worlds" and also looks like a music video.
That's when they start problems when you let yourself carried away by the visual sense and you forget to take care of the story, the script and the characters, because you believe that the visual will be enough to dazzle the Viewer.
Not Mr Tarsem, it is not.
A good movie, it is in every way.
Fortunately Tarsem, learned from his mistakes and on his 2nd film gift us a masterpiece.
In summary: Visually this cell is a work of art, but as a film it's not a great movie.
Recommended for those who are fans of Tarsem.
The Cell is quite simply an incredible motion picture, straddling several genres while forging an identity uniquely its own. The concept of mind-linking is a little futuristic, but the plot remains strong and believable from start to finish. The acting is terrific, especially on the part of Jennifer Lopez and Vincent D’Onofrio. The visual effects are stunning, intricately detailed, and mesmerizing, to say the least. In terms of content, the movie can be disturbing and perhaps horrifying to some individuals, but there is nothing I would characterize as gratuitous gore. Besides the sheer beauty of this film, I was greatly impressed by the symmetry of the presentation; this applies to single scenes as well as the movie as a whole.
J. Lo plays psychologist Catherine Deane; in an attempt to reach a comatose boy, she employs an advanced technology to link with and actually enter the mind of her patient; this is an experimental treatment that produces results very slowly. She soon finds herself asked to do a rush job on a certain man named Carl Stargher. Stargher is a truly demented serial killer whose brain decides to shut down completely just before the police catch him. In a bold attempt to locate the killer’s most recent victim, who has only hours to live based on the killer’s m.o., the authorities ask Deane to try and communicate with the otherwise unreachable mind of the killer. Running the risk of becoming trapped inside the madman’s demented mind, Deane agrees to embark on a mental journey of surreal, mind-altering proportions.
Obviously, a serial killer’s mind is a dark, disturbing place. The visual effects of that journey are stunning, marked with incredible beauty as well as nightmarish horror. One is hard pressed to describe this facet of the movie; it is an experience that must be seen to be appreciated. What may strike viewers as most disturbing, though, are the crimes and acts of Stargher. Stargher abducts women, keeping them in an automated torture cell for a couple of days before killing them, bleaching their bodies to make them doll-like creatures. He doesn’t stop there, but I won’t get into the details of his ultimate purposes.
DVD technology really brings out the great subtlety of the visual effects and highlights the incredible attention to detail on the part of the filmmakers. The extra features are also excellent and diverse. The ability to gain insight into the director’s ideas and purposes is most welcome for such an unusual film, and the deleted scenes add depth and further insight into the minds of both Stargher and Deane. There are so many reasons to buy this movie. I think some people avoid The Cell for fear of its disturbing aspects, but I think such perceptions are unwarranted. There is certainly a lot of material here for horror fans to love, and some viewers probably will not fall in love with the movie the way I did, but lovers of well-made movies will find themselves mesmerized by this cinematic masterpiece.
Contrary to magazine, newspaper and TV reviews, and the quotes printed all over the DVD packaging, this is not all about Jenniffer Lopez dressing sexy and pouting.
Visionary director Tarsem Singh, who cut his teeth in TV commercials, has put together an absolute masterpiece, in my opinion. It's one of those few multi-genre movies that really hits the mark in all areas; Sci-fi, fantasy, and horriffic thriller are all woven beautifully together, to create a story that is gripping, captivating, and convincing.
J-Lo plays the role of Catherine, a psycho-therapist who's job is to literally enter the mind, and fantasy world, of children with serious mental illness, to try and help improve their quality of life.
When the FBI, on the hunt for an illusive serial killer, find their suspect in a coma, Catherine is asked to enter the dark, twisted fantasy world in his mind to try to determine where his next victim is being held in captivity.
Singh's unique visionary approach to setting, costume and general atmosphere make the story moving and frightening, but equally enticing - obscure and unnerving as some scenes are, they are also sometimes quite stunning, and it really makes it worth putting up with the chill-factor because you just want to see what happens next.
This is the only film I have seen that has honestly come close to feeling like a real-life dream/nightmare feels. It's got all the elements of twisted reality that you get from a strange dream, with out being too far-out and ridiculous.
"The Cell" is not a hugely gory or violent film, like "Saw" or "Hostel"....it's intelligent, and uses psychological trickery to keep you right on the edge of your seat. It would appeal both to people who like a good, suspenseful thriller, as well as anyone interested in dark, artistic fantasy as seen in films such as "Pan's Labrynth".
Careful use of CGI is combined with quality direction, a solid storyline and script, and is brilliantly executed by it's leading cast. Don't dismiss it just because it's J-Lo - you'd be really missing out...
on 17 March 2015
a very good film with Vincent D'Onofrio - an actor that is underestimated in my opinion. A very psychological film, and Jennifer Lopez is good in this film. If you like weird, then try this film. The camera and technical aspects of the film are really good but weird.
on 3 July 2013
I have scored the Canadian blu ray lower than I really rate this movie as the print provided by Alliance is the R rated US cut which has two minutes of footage removed by the American censor. All the cuts are made to the scenes in the first 15 minutes or so principally around the killer and his interaction with the corpse.
Otherwise the blu ray transfer is very good although I thought the audio could have been better. The disc is also free from the extras found on the dvd. Although this disc is significantly better in terms of picture quality the censorship means that I would not recommend this blu ray even at the very low price here. The disc is also locked to region A.