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The Cell [Blu-ray]
The Cell
Blu-ray
Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'onofrio, Colton James, Dylan Baker
Director: Tarsem Singh
R     2009     1hr 47min

Schizoid serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) has been captured at last, but a neurological seizure has rendered him comatose, and FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughan) has no way to determine the location of...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'onofrio, Colton James, Dylan Baker
Director: Tarsem Singh
Creators: Carolyn Manetti, Donna Langley, Eric McLeod, Julio Caro, Mark Protosevich, Nico Soultanakis
Studio: Alliance Canada
Format: Blu-ray - Widescreen - Dubbed
DVD Release Date: 07/07/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
Edition: Import
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French
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Movie Reviews

HIS MIND IS HER PRISON
Clarissa | Ontario, California | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"{WARNING: There might be some spoilers here!}

First of all, let me start off by stating the obvious: this is not your average suspenseful cop chases killer kind of movie (it has far more substance than that). As well as achieving the understandable squeal or two (often because of grotesque things happening, such as flesh being stretched from suspension and intestines being pulled out), The Cell's visionary special effects is pure eye-candy that will undoubtedly thrill and excite you...

The film at first is divided into two different storylines. You have child therapist, Catherine Deane (played by Jennifer Lopez), who has devoted her life in trying to awaken a young boy by the name of Edward whom has lapsed into a coma. Then there is a swarm of FBI agents and criminal investigators (primarily Peter, played by Vince Vaughn) searching for clues to hunt down a serial killer that drowns his victims (all beautiful blondes), bleaches them to look like dolls once dead and then puts collars on them to make them feel that they belong to him.

Eventually these two storylines merge together...

When the FBI discovers where the suspect Carl (Vincent D'Onofrio) is living they immediately raid his house, but what they find is him lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. They rush him to the hospital and are crushed to learn that he has fallen into a catatonic state that is non-curable due to a mental illness of severe schizophrenia. He, unfortunately, is the only one who knows where his latest victim Julia is, so during the next 40 hours they must figure out where that is before the tank she's captured in fills up with water. The FBI then recruits Catherine to use an experimental device that links the two and enables her to travel within the killer's dark, perverse mind. Thus we enter imaginative worlds that intertwine reality with fantasy. Here Carl is a King in a very twisted kingdom, but as she delves deeper into his abusive childhood to better understand why he's the way he is, she tries to get him to trust her so that he'll reveal Julia's whereabouts before it's too late. Things get way out of hand, though, and when Catherine confuses reality with Carl's nightmarish dreamworld, Peter must go in to remind her that this is "not real" so that his mind doesn't become her prison...

'The Cell' is not quite a masterpiece but it is brilliantly unique nonetheless and is definitely one of the more original thrillers I've yet to see. And believe me, this is coming from a person who is not a big fan of Jennifer Lopez. I, however, truly feel she put on a good performance here. Therefore I recommend at least renting!"
An Underrated Masterpiece of a Thriller
Daniel Garris | Cali | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pathos and Hate; they are about as far apart as two emotions can be, and yet so often the two come hand in hand. Above all it is this aspect of first time director Tarsem's The Cell, and not the stunning visuals, which makes the film's most effective impact. The Cell is not just another case of style over substance as so many have said it to be, but rather an emotional tale of anger, fear and ultimately forgiveness that is told through the use of striking images instead of just dialogue.

The film's central character is Catherine Deane, a child psychologist portrayed by Jennifer Lopez, who has spent a number of months using a brand new experimental technology in an attempt to help a young boy come out of his catatonic state. The boy is the son of the millionaire helping fund the project, and the technology is a device that allows one to enter the mind of another. The film's opening scene takes place in one of these situations as we see Catherine in a desert wasteland trying to make a connection with the child in question, but like her prior attempts it too ultimately ends in failure. Upon this latest failure the boy's father decides to end his son's involvement in the experiment, only to give Catherine a few more months after being convinced otherwise by the designers of the project, Dr. Miriam Kent (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and Henry West (Dylan Baker). During the film's introduction of Catherine we also get a quick glimpse of her life, or rather her lack of one, as she has engulfed herself with the project to such an extent that she has time for little else.

At the same time we are introduced to Carl Stargher, a demented and very complex serial killer, played by Vincent D'Onofrio in an absolutely astonishing performance that is so good that I would be tempted to recommend the film on it alone. Carl is about as strange as they get (at least in an R-rated film) as he finds relief by torturing young women in "The Cell" an escape-proof room that slowly fills with water until his victim drowns. And as we are shown in one of the film's more disturbing scenes, Carl watches his victims as they drown while hanging midair on a number of hooks that have been inserted into his back. Once Carl has gone through that part of the process, he continues his ritual by turning his victim into a doll-like creation through the use of bleach. Again, as sick as it is, Carl somehow finds comfort in it all.

Carl is also extremely sloppy; he dumps the bodies where it is easy to find them and leaves a number of clues behind wherever he goes. The FBI, which believes that Carl wants to be caught, is right on his tale, and almost ready to make an arrest. Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) is in charge of the manhunt, which quickly locates Carl. The only trouble is that Carl, who still has one more victim in the process of being tortured, is found lying in a coma after suffering one too many seizures. In order to find the last of Carl's victims before her fate is sealed it is suggested that Catherine should go into the Carl's mind. Despite having her doubts Catharine agrees to do so. Upon doing so The Cell starts to work on a whole new level.

Catherine's first encounter is with Carl's younger-self, who is the exact opposite of the Carl's current state, but at the same time troubled in his own way. Catherine attempts to make the connection, but can't as young Carl disappears without a trace. Soon afterwards the first interaction occurs between Catherine and Carl's other personality, an evil demon-like creature who rules supreme in the world that has been constructed within Carl's head, in one of the film's most visually striking scenes. During her second "session" Catherine encounters young Carl once again, with young Carl opening up to her (and us) for the first time. We see what turned Carl into what he was and his "reasoning" for his actions. This second encounter is one of the film's best overall scenes as it leaves us with a number of feelings towards Carl. We hate him, we fear him, and yet we start to feel sorry for him (or at least for his inner-child) despite what he has done. Yet, Tarsem doesn't overdo the sympathy that he creates for Carl, as we are soon reminded once again of what Carl really is and in doing so an excellent balance is formed throughout, and in this scene especially, between the three aspects of Carl's persona.

The rest of the film is filled with interesting, and often disturbing images throughout that I will leave for you to discover. However, the vast majority of the imagery in these scenes, as it was with the earlier scenes, is used to tell the story. There are very few images that serve no other purpose than to be looked at, another aspect that makes The Cell such an amazing film. Furthermore, in doing so the film leaves much to the imagination of the viewer as definite answers are not given but instead suggested by the film's imagery. In this sense the film generated some of the same reactions that are generated in my mind while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. At first glance the films have almost nothing in common (other than their trip-out scenes), but upon getting into the film, The Cell, like 2001, also says something (although it be very different) about the human race through the use images instead of just words.

Much has been made about the underdevelopment of both Catherine and Peter. While it is a problem, it isn't that big of one, especially in the case of Catherine since we get to know a lot about her from the interactions she has with all three parts of Carl. Vaughn's character was by far the weakest of the three leads as he was primarily used to move the story along. With that small exception The Cell works in every other aspect. In addition to what has already been mentioned, The Cell also works as a film that terrifies. While it isn't filled with jump scenes or many other moments that are terribly scary in themselves, it is able to create a frightening experience nonetheless (think The Exorcist rather than a standard slasher flick) by the sense of eeriness that accompanies the film as a whole. I could literary talk about The Cell for hours, but instead of saying anymore I'll leave the rest up to you, as it truly is a film that should be experienced first hand and a film that I will personally never forget.

****, (10/10)"
Tarsem and J. Lo rule.
E. Frampton | Wexford, PA United States | 02/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tarsem Singh the director of The Cell shows that he knows exactly what he's doing when he is behind the camera. This serial killer film is one of the best films of 2000. The plot of this movie has a great hook. The entering of a persons mind by a second person. Jennifer Lopez's character has to enter the mind of a serial killer in order to figure out where a missing girl is before she drowns in his sick trap. The plot isn't all though. The stellar direction courtesy of Tarsem, using a combination of computer effects and elaborate sets, he creates the inner recesses of the mind with a very distinct visual flair. From the disturbing mind of Carl which encompasses a rather surprising setpiece involving a horse, to the serene desert of a little boys mind, the sheer staggering beauty of the images is hard to describe. But on top of this, Tarsem shows an exceptional talent for storytelling also. He cuts between the search for the missing girl, and "J.Lo" searching the mind of Carl with absolute precision. The suspense is excellent, i was unable to turn away from the screen. The acting is rather good in this movie also. Jennifer Lopez is a great actress, she gives a very good performance, juggling multiple incarnations of her character, from a sullen therapist to a leather clad uber-warrior wielding a crossbow. Vince Vaughn is given a typical FBI agent character, and is very convincing in his role. And then there is Vincent D'Onofrio, probably the most underrated actor in hollywood, he has always been great. This is just another example, he is just disturbing, a complete sociopath. Vincent plays him perfectly. This visionary, ultra-entertaining film, strays from the norm and pays for it. People hate it, because they like their serial killers charismatic like Hannibal, not to be completely indecipherable like Carl, that's a real shame. Because this movie has a lot to offer, if given the chance."
Not for the faint of heart
Cassandra Barlow | the Caribbean | 01/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The plot of The Cell is simple enough to follow. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a child psychologist who uses newly developed technology to enter the minds of her patients in order to help them solve their problems. Her attempts to coax her latest patient, a boy who almost drowned, out of his coma aren't going so well, which means that the organization overseeing the project wants to cut the funding. Perfectly on cue, enter Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio).

Stargher is a serial killer with a decidedly troubled past who traps his female victims in a cell and slowly fills it with water over a forty-hour period until they drown. He is captured without much ado after going into a coma of his own in the beginning of the movie, leaving the whereabouts of his latest victim unknown. FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) knows she is trapped in the cell, but he has no way to determine the location of Stargher's fully automatic death trap. Perfectly on cue, enter Catherine Deane.

The rest of The Cell deals mainly with Catherine's journey into the interior of Stargher's mind - a fascinating place if there ever was one, replete with several different versions of Stargher including one as a demon king and another as a child, the mutilation of a horse and the painful removal of Novak's intestines. Bambi this movie is not. There is blood and guts aplenty, none of which is superfluous in my opinion, and all of which help the viewer to see the wonderful, surreal horror of Stargher's mind all the more clearly. It's stunningly beautiful in a sick sort of way, especially since some of the scenes may strike a chord within you of your own nightmares.

The Cell is visually amazing. At times the images seem bleached, in reflection of what Stargher does to his victims once they are dead, yet at other times the colour saturation is enough to almost make your eyes hurt. The stylized world is enthralling and repulsive, especially Stargher's outlandish costumes - like the weirdest king who never lived. The entire sequence in his mind is grotesque, nightmarish, as though seen through the eyes of a child in an exaggerated burlesque of wonder. The world of Catherine's mind is more serene and less frightening, or at least until Stargher begins to assert himself within it.

Exquisite sets, crazy/beautiful costuming, astonishing makeup...and the acting isn't bad either. Some have deemed Lopez's acting terrible, but the fact is that The Cell is not about plot. It is about pure eye candy - the movie is like the craziest acid trip you'll ever take. Lopez acts the part of Catherine just fine, in my opinion, and besides, your eyes probably won't be on her anyway. Or on Vince Vaughn, who is competent as ever as the dependable FBI agent Novak.

Vincent D'Onofrio, on the other hand, is breathtaking. His ability to act so many different characters - or rather, different facets of the same complicated and twisted character - is definitely deserving of praise. His body language, his facial expressions and all the quirks and tics he brings to the character of Stargher combine to strengthen the image of D'Onofrio as one of the best character actors of this day. I may have seen him in bad movies, but his acting is always superb, and The Cell is no different. His acting, however, is not the saving grace of an otherwise bad movie. It is actually the rather large cherry on the top of a recipe that will make your head spin in vast and increasingly dizzy circles.

The bottom line: it's wild and it's weird but it's outstandingly beautiful. I don't recommend it for most people below the age of eighteen or above the age of twenty-five, though, so don't watch it with your children or your parents.

But do watch it."