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Overall Rating
2.96

Awesome: 19.6%
Worth A Look: 23.62%
Average: 14.07%
Pretty Bad: 18.59%
Total Crap24.12%

12 reviews, 127 user ratings



Cell, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Visually stunning cretinous junk is still cretinous junk."
1 stars

Not so long ago, calling a movie visually stunning© actually meant something. Today, though, even films shot on video can look quite good, and computer imaging enables a Mac to do what it would've taken a crew of fifty to do ten years ago.

When applied to science-fiction or fantasy films, the "visually stunning©" accolade is even less impressive. Such films are supposed to pack a visual punch; saying they're great because they look cool is like saying a glass is great because it holds water. Many of us, though, would rather see a story that holds water, even if it has meat-and-potatoes visuals.

Which brings us to The Cell, a visually stunning dud that holds no water whatsoever. Ironic, since the titular object is a huge glass container in which women are trapped until water fills the space and drowns them. This is part of an elaborately vicious fetish of serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio), who kidnaps women, stashes them in the aforementioned cell until they drown, then soaks them in a tub of bleach to give them a baby-doll look, then hovers over their corpses by hooks in the flesh of his back, then dumps the bodies for the cops to find.

Who does that? Why all this Dr. Evil stuff? Why doesn't he just shoot women in the head and bury them somewhere, like a normal serial killer? And what does Carl do for a living that enables him to afford this amazing deathtrap? What is he, Batman?

Carl has another woman somewhere, awaiting death by drowning, but just as the FBI are closing in on him, Carl suffers some sort of massive brain fart and goes into a coma. Problem: He's the only one who knows where the endangered woman is. So the FBI sit down and, I imagine, have the following conversation:

FBI Agent #1: Okay, we gotta find out where he hid this woman before she drowns. Should we put extra manpower on this? Put out an APB? Ask questions? Use our deductive skills? Work overtime until we turn up a lead?

FBI Agent #2: Nah, let's get Jennifer Lopez to wander around in his head.

And so it is done. Lopez, playing an experimental psychologist who pokes around inside the psyches of the comatose, is recruited to delve into Carl's inner sanctum for clues. There she finds Carl as an innocent boy -- see, the movie is saying, killers aren't born, they're made -- and also Carl as some kind of demented Lizard King of slaughter. Apparently Carl's inner life is influenced by Kabuki theater and the music videos of Tarsem Singh (REM's "Losing My Religion"), who has directed The Cell like a man screaming in your face every 20 seconds, "Look what a visual genius I am!" Lopez wades through many nonsensical, pompous, gradually annoying dream-logic scenes that are, of course, visually stunning©.

Vince Vaughn also turns up, sleepwalking through his performance as an FBI agent who accompanies Lopez into Carl's mind and comes out with a clue he hadn't spotted in the real world (take the guy's badge away and make him clean toilets at Quantico, say I). If not for that one clue, the dream sequences would be utterly pointless. Actually, they do have one point: to show us a whole lot more blood and women in bondage than the movie could've shown if it had stuck to reality.

Not that it sticks to reality even when it's in reality. The Cell is yet another pretentious sci-fi freak-out show, following Dark City and The Matrix, two other visually stunning© scriptless wonders. While Vaughn tracks down the increasingly desperate woman (FBI choppers and cars speeding across the frame, just like in The Silence of the Lambs and Seven), Lopez is still in Carl's head, and I kept thinking, Why is she still there? Her work is done; can't she just go home to her cat and get stoned watching Fantastic Planet some more? But no, Lopez stays in Carl's head to redeem him, I guess, and put him at peace.

Meanwhile, no matter how nicely Lopez is treating Carl's inner child, his victims remain just as horribly dead. But, hey, at least his violent misogyny is visually stunning©. That makes it okay. Right?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4392&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/26/06 15:15:57
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User Comments

9/25/17 PennyNotSoWise Lopez' butt is the true star 4 stars
6/03/11 Bronson Mejia I tried to like this movie and wonder what Ebert saw that I didn't! 1 stars
8/30/10 KingNeutron Unique movie - worth watching for the effects and the dream sequences 4 stars
12/20/09 FrankNFurter Overly-bashed film with high creepiness/suspence and unique visuals. Worth watching! 4 stars
8/30/09 CTT Incredible stuff, very underappreciated 5 stars
1/22/09 Psychotic angel Looks good, but story is horrible. And why all you sane people have filth or gore fetish? 3 stars
9/15/08 Panda Monium Amazing imagery makes up for plot holes, very creepy 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner This is the kind of movie you fall asleep too. 1 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT ITS THE CLASSIC ERROR OF STYLE AND NO SUBSTANCE. TOTALLY DISTASTEFUL 1 stars
6/28/07 gr117 Crapola 1 stars
1/19/07 Marjorie This film was a journey through the mind of a killer who lives in a psychological hell 4 stars
1/16/07 David Pollastrini saw it but have no memory so it must have sucked 2 stars
10/15/06 Adrian Thoroughly enjoyable. Visionary, but the story and characters needed work. Too short as wel 4 stars
6/18/06 chienne Strange, creepy, weird & total frog shit. What was the horse thing about? 2 stars
10/11/05 Carolyn Rathburn This film left me feeling strange, a little like I needed a place to hide. 4 stars
8/07/05 Charlene Javier Severely underrated. 4 stars
8/04/05 Carolyn Rathburn Left me feeling strange, plays on the emotions 4 stars
8/03/05 Eric Rollins Fascinating on many levels. Best visual effect is making J-Los butt look good. 4 stars
6/09/05 C. Butterill Would like to find a review that analyzes the strong imagery references to Mary, the Christ 4 stars
4/24/05 Vince Pretty cool flick. Don't listen to dorky total crappers, watch it! 4 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Ultimately pretty shallow, but worth seeing for the stunning imagery. 4 stars
1/11/05 Archanist_101 It would've been better as an Anime & if it was directed by Clive Barker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
12/12/04 Admiral Piett Fuck J-Lo 1 stars
9/26/04 teri hill awsome movie 5 stars
9/22/04 R.W. Welch Pic is overwhelmed by mostly meaningless dreamscapes. Some interesting images. 2 stars
5/20/04 Proteus The setdesigner is the only one who put this on his resume. Shoulda hired Kaufman to script 1 stars
3/04/04 Vince A creepy serial killer movie with a twist.... I liked it 4 stars
2/25/04 john wants to be clever but ends up overindulgent and obvious - rather pointless film 1 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Visually stunning, as disturbing as I want, beautiful, and subliminal. Good meat flavour. 5 stars
7/08/03 nr great 5 stars
5/25/03 John40 underrated sci-fi flick with great visuals 4 stars
5/17/03 Jack Sommersby Style over substance. Repugnant, boring, and forgettable. 1 stars
4/22/03 mr. Pink Boring crap 1 stars
4/19/03 Ubu the Ripper Not even worth the effort to type a comment. 1 stars
3/01/03 Monique worst i've ever seen, threw popcorn at the screen in anger. j-lo gotta go! 1 stars
2/26/03 scott A GOOD FILM 5 stars
2/01/03 Goofy Maxwell Coulda been a wicked comic book on film - comix needn't make sense, but thrillers... 2 stars
11/18/02 Paul The good thing id Lopez barley talks..sits around looking scared 2 stars
11/14/02 Paul The good thing id Lopez barley talks..sits around looking scared 2 stars
11/08/02 solamia i loved it 5 stars
8/14/02 Bryan Brooks It's so bad, I'm suprised Jake Lloyd wasn't in it. J-Lo=no-acto. 2 stars
7/15/02 ! pure bullshit 1 stars
5/15/02 hooman farmer 1 stars
3/05/02 Alan Smithee Other than Ms. Lopez's ass, this movie is just a boring turd. 1 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent This was more whacked up than Pi. Weird weird weird. 3 stars
1/15/02 Bojo I'm really surprised that so many of you hate this movie. You all suck. Visuals were amazin 5 stars
1/15/02 Andrew Carden MST2K Should Take This One Into Their Grasp. 2 stars
10/31/01 I love movies Roger Ebert opinions are dinosaur crap. He also liked nutty professor 2 1 stars
9/23/01 Jim Cranky Critic sez: "Disembowelment: The Music Video" That's about right. 3 stars
9/09/01 Butterbean Not as bad as everyone says. D'Onofio was great in it and there was a nice story. 3 stars
6/27/01 This movie sucks don't waste your money The "Hooked on phonics" version of the Matrix with no big words 1 stars
6/02/01 Thrillhouse boring, tasteless, stupid, and illogical 1 stars
5/28/01 I love movies Roger Ebert i hate you you used to be reliable, now you give this fucking movie four stars. 1 stars
5/24/01 Rampage UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE...don't waste your money on a crappy movie like this one 1 stars
5/06/01 Roy Smith Very pretty and incredibly stupid , screams for MST3K treatment.. 1 stars
4/19/01 Tam Thriller eh? This didnt thrill me at all. Took far too long. 2 stars
4/14/01 suraj kumar singha fuck 5 stars
4/12/01 Jesse L Besides the ludicrous plot, Jennifer should have been topless 2 stars
4/08/01 Steve All visual, no substance. JLo actress??? 2 stars
3/19/01 Elendil ...and the concept had such potential...BTW, the effects aren't *that* great. 1 stars
2/11/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi A hybrid of Smashing Pumpkins/Marylin Manson videos, with J Lo as the obligatory hot babe. 4 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman Plot died from exhaustion & took visuals with it 1 stars
1/18/01 Derrick G. Jackson One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Garbage! 1 stars
1/16/01 Nut Total suck. Lopez as a brilliant scientist--yeah right! 1 stars
1/06/01 Emily i thought this movie was superb. and i'll say it again. superb. 5 stars
12/23/00 Bev Clark Visually striking but fucking awful narrative 3 stars
12/23/00 mahone Glossed up B crap. 2 stars
12/10/00 BrittenysPears Lopez needs to stick to "singing" this is the definition of sucks all ass 1 stars
12/03/00 scott wahls the matrix meets seven, if there is no sequel my life will be empty 5 stars
11/25/00 The Evil Penguin Corny dialogue, but the imagination is stun you. 3 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head This was an okay movie. It had some moments...that's about it. 3 stars
11/20/00 Fat bastard You don't need a plot, you have Jennifer Lopez and some cool visual fx 3 stars
11/17/00 Caz:) Deliciously weird! An eye opener! Fantastic visuals and solid script. 5 stars
11/05/00 Jon I think people say they like Lopez to hide their homosexuality 1 stars
10/01/00 Ivan Truly marvelous suspense thriller! Silence of the Lambs doesn't even come close!! 5 stars
9/18/00 Gluke what a fucking trip!!! 5 stars
9/17/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Hey Everybody! Let's find cruel and sadistic ways to torture women! Hooray For Hollwyood!!! 1 stars
9/15/00 bartv A few stri$8.50 to see Jennifer as a great model but terrible actress with absurd dialogue. 2 stars
9/14/00 Ground Zero Two words: bad movie 2 stars
9/13/00 PJ eye candy, plotholes, bad acting, over direction, pretensious, style over substance, sucks! 2 stars
9/10/00 The Bomb 69 visual masterpiece, story held up as well 4 stars
9/10/00 MIKE TERRIBLE. NO PLOT. I WOULD RATHER KISS THAT BEAST JENNIFER LOPEZ THEN SEE THIS AGAIN! 1 stars
9/08/00 Tdis72 A sucking movie for all the hype about this and I won't see anymore Jennifer Lopez movies 1 stars
9/07/00 Basil Worth a look just for the special effects. 3 stars
9/06/00 Mike This could have been very good, but the plot crapped at the end. 3 stars
9/04/00 Zeitgeist hmm...you'd think they'd drug test someone whose job is to enter people's minds 3 stars
9/03/00 M-Cat of the Feline Posse don't believe the reviews, just watch the movie 5 stars
9/02/00 ALIaS Incredible Visuals! The story however fell so short of its potential 4 stars
9/01/00 Diehard Actually, I found the plot to be quite involving. It was actually original and well-played 4 stars
8/31/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Looked like a lot of my dreams...does this mean I'm schizo??? 4 stars
8/28/00 Girl 9 weak plot and BAD acting by Lopez, but still strangely interesting... 4 stars
8/27/00 Kriperace S.S.D.D 2 stars
8/27/00 All o dat Jennifers ass and a surgicly sliced horse. 5 stars
8/27/00 Chuck The separated-hore thing was pretty cool... 1 stars
8/26/00 NICK i only saw it to see jenny lopezs PHAT ASS 1 stars
8/26/00 PhilmPhreak Very pretty visuals, very dumb story 3 stars
8/25/00 Maclay01 Should have been condensed into a ten-minute video - the story was insulting 2 stars
8/24/00 Movieman Bizarre, but original 4 stars
8/24/00 amy dawson this movie kicked ass 5 stars
8/24/00 Politicsman SOTL meets Matrix meets Dark City meets Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here 3 stars
8/23/00 BRINGER OF BAD SMELLS I didn't know that they stacked shit that high. 1 stars
8/23/00 Ramen Noodles all that bullcrap to solve what normal policework could have figured out 1 stars
8/23/00 **~**Persnickety**~** damn, this movie left me speechless,,incredible 5 stars
8/23/00 kim boyd beautiful but u don't get 2 know the characters well enuff 2 care n wht hppnd 2 the 1st boy 2 stars
8/23/00 forger This stank to high heaven, watch the trailer & save your $$ 1 stars
8/22/00 elfpunkt don't go to see this while frying.... 5 stars
8/22/00 Captain Highcrime A contemporary/modern art gallery come to life. 5 stars
8/22/00 Jubilee Guy Visually stunning, decent story (with some holes). 4 stars
8/22/00 malcolm "Silence of the Lambs" on acid -- side shot of Lopez's ass doesn't hurt either 3 stars
8/21/00 doompoon really makes you cherish the moment. Visuals so out of this world that they suspend you 5 stars
8/21/00 Roman Pretty damn cool 5 stars
8/21/00 PJ Some of the visuals were amazing, but I was a little dissapointed 3 stars
8/21/00 ItHasVinceVaughnInIt Visually amazing, amazing script, amazing acting...best of the summer 5 stars
8/21/00 KoHawk This movie was extremely innovative and, well, awesome.My dimwitted counterparts wont agree 5 stars
8/20/00 Doctor Collosus Visionary! Horrifying and Beautiful. Not for the weak-minded 5 stars
8/20/00 JonnyA Worth seeing, great visuals esp. a shot of Lopez in her undies...ghetto booty whut! whut! 4 stars
8/20/00 Stargher What's with all these grainy-looking movies recently? This one's the best. Stunning, truly 5 stars
8/20/00 LoudChris IT was like riding an awsome, short roller coster with a long line 3 times. 4 stars
8/20/00 Thor A beautifully designed and gorgeously photographed intensely bad movie. 1 stars
8/20/00 Merripen Some of the most beautiful visuals I have ever seen. Excellent. 5 stars
8/20/00 Rue the Whirl Visually average, story sucking, overall a disappointment 2 stars
8/19/00 Kip Visualy wonderful, story a little lacking, but over all good. 4 stars
8/19/00 Linda Phillips weak on acting and dialogue; strong on effects 3 stars
8/19/00 frank visual masterpiece. good script. lots of disturbing bits. 4 stars
8/18/00 hamlet3k Surreal visuals and disturbing imagery make for creepy good time. 4 stars
8/18/00 Jokko fucking LAME. shitty performances, massive directoral masturbation, utterly awful script. 1 stars
8/13/00 Justin Brilliant , loaded with incredible effects, and genius ideas, Lopez's ass deserves an OSCAR 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Aug-2000

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Nov-2000 (M)




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