The Cell
**.9 GM
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn


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I am generally not one that can handle gore very well. I avoided the cheesy slasher movies as a kid just because I have a weak stomach - although that one time that Jason Voorhees punched a guy in the face and his head went sailing off a rooftop was kinda funny. However, all the talk that this film was going to make people vomit and how many boundaries it was going to push had me on edge when I went to see it. But if you can handle a Tool video (a feat in itself), you should be able to handle this pretty well.

Jennifer Lopez is a child psychologist teamed with nifty scientists that have developed a way to insert someone into the mind of a comatose person, in attempts to draw them out of their comas. But when a psychotic freak (Vincent D'Onofrio) kidnaps a chick and puts her in a cell that's timed to flood with water and drown her, but then has a brain seizure when the cops find him, they need the cool mind-visit technology to figure out where the woman is before she drowns, and Lopez is 'special,' so she goes in to do it. Cue intense and disturbing visuals.

While pretty creepy and unsettling, this is primarily a feast for the eyes rather than a particularly compelling story, although 'feast' may be the wrong word, since this stuff would spoil an appetite pretty quickly. Lots of blood, mutilation, some nipples get torn off, intenstines on a spit, that sorta thing. A lot of dark, heebie-jeebie visuals all over the place - very much like your standard rock video. Tarsem Singh (or "Just Tarsem," depending on whose story you listen to) was the director of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" video, and that sort of imagery and style is very much present in this, his first feature film.

This film was based so much on the visuals that I'm even tempted to think that this film could have been done completely without dialog, and not much of anything would have been missing (aside from a truly involving story, but that's also missing from the dialogged version). Most of the time, it just seemed to be a lot of attempts at quiet intensity from everybody involved - sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't - and not much of it was particularly important. I really liked Vince Vaughn's moment of saying that it was entirely possible to have a violent childhood and grow into someone that would never harm another human being ever, but a really low dialog point was the unneeded moment of smacktalk that Lopez gives once they switch feeds and bring the psycho into HER mind (which I don't particularly consider a spoiler, since you can tell that's where it's going as soon as they mention the possibility at the beginning) and she has to give the "My world, my rules!" line. Most people should have been able to grasp that.

Also, you'd think that in her world, she wouldn't HAVE to engage in a bloody, gruesome swordfight and rip the guy's nipples off. If I'm fighting a schizophrenic murderer in my own mind, I don't have to get close to the guy to defeat him. I get lightning powers and eye-beams and anything else that lets me keep my distance and still kick ass. Pretty much the same problem I had with the Matrix - if the power is unlimited, use your imagination! C'mon! There's so much imaginative stuff in here already, what's a little bit more, huh?

Aside from some complaints, it was an interesting film. Not great, but worth seeing, if you don't mind having nightmares induced.

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