Friday, April 9, 2010

The Cell. C

Just because a movie takes a genre in a new direction doesn't mean it's good. That's the case with 'The Cell,' an overly indulgent, at times dazzling but mostly flawed new take on the serial killer movie. Director Tarsem Singh doesn't just toy with the idea of humans having access to the unconscious minds of others. He makes it reality and throws us into a visual world that unfortunately was more pretentious than it was visually stunning. Jennifer Lopez, in a very brave role, plays a child psychologist named Catherine Deane who specializes in this virtual reality experiment where she can enter into the minds of her patients. Now the story here is pretty ingenious: a sadistic serial killer preys on his victims one at a time, placing them in unthinkable situations where they eventually die. However, before he can end the life of his latest victim, the killer goes into a coma. The police find him and its Catherine's job to find out the killer's secrets with this psychic device. When the movie switches to the world in the minds of Catherine and her patient, a full, richly colored display of the patient's inner secrets is revealed. Some of these sequences were well done, especially when Catherine explores the killer's childhood (like most serial killers, he was abused as a kid). But when this world becomes a deliberate visual fantasy, I felt like it was just an excuse to make art rather than a reason to help develop the story and characters. Vince Vaughn plays an FBI agent who's trying to find the killer's victim. Vaughn being cast proved to be a big mistake, as I his frequent presence in raunchy comedies kept me from believing his character. And when he decides to accompany Catherine into the killer's mind, the movie unfortunately rushed itself to the finish line. Even if the story and the visuals didn't work for me, I think in the end the main reason I don't care much for the film is because I never became invested in these characters. 'The Cell' is an admirable movie for trying something different, but in the end this is one creative project that can remain off your Netflix queue.

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