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5.0 out of 5 stars Smarter than it seems
This is a movie that, for obvious reasons, has gone overlooked/under appreciated by far too many people. For one, having Jennifer Lopez in the star role probably attracted the wrong audience for this film -- don't bother watching it if all you're interested in seeing is J-Lo in a tight outfit. Secondly, this isn't really a see-it-once-and-get-it-all type of movie, which...
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by jmb127

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stunning visuals highlight this dark journey into the twisted mind of a serial killer
A social worker (Jennifer Lopez) enters the mind of a comatose serial killer (with the help of new experimental technology) to help FBI agents find his latest captive before time runs out.

The Cell was released in 2000 and marked the feature film debut of director Tarsem Singh (Immortals). Upon its initial release, many critics charged that the film was all...
Published 21 months ago by Jamie MacDougall


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stunning visuals highlight this dark journey into the twisted mind of a serial killer, Nov. 24 2012
By 
Jamie MacDougall "Film/TV Addict" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
A social worker (Jennifer Lopez) enters the mind of a comatose serial killer (with the help of new experimental technology) to help FBI agents find his latest captive before time runs out.

The Cell was released in 2000 and marked the feature film debut of director Tarsem Singh (Immortals). Upon its initial release, many critics charged that the film was all style and no substance. I disagree with that. The film contains both, but the story/script/acting is a little underwhelming in the first half when compared with the bold and vividly nightmarish special FX and dreamlike atmosphere of the second half of the movie. Still if you don’t over think things and allow yourself to soak in the darkness and striking visuals, the film can make for a disturbing and thrilling experience. The films costume design, cinematography, soundtrack and make-up are all fantastically unique as well.

The DVD release of The Cell offered a nice collection of special features including an enthusiastic audio commentary by director Tarsem Singh. Since this Blu-ray release of the film is from Alliance, it doesn’t come as a surprise that no special features are included, not even a menu screen. The movie begins playing as soon as you pop the disc in.

While The Cell makes its Blu-ray debut with great video and audio, it’s a bare-bones release that offers no supplemental material. For the price, I recommend this one for diehard fans of the film, but if you already own the DVD, I would wait to upgrade until The Cell makes its way onto the Blu-ray format with a better overall package. For the record I would rate the film a 4/5 and rate this release from Alliance a 3/5.
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4.0 out of 5 stars J-Lo In Wonderland..., June 4 2004
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
The dark, bleak inner world of serial killer Carl (Vincent D'Onofrio) Stargher's mind is a bizarre labyrinth of horror and mystery. It also holds the key to finding Carl's latest female victim, before it's too late. Psychologist, Catherine (J-Lo) Deane is part of a team that has the ability to transfer a person into the mind of another. Catherine must enter Carl's head and travel through it's dank halls and passages, in order to help the FBI find the poor girl he's stashed away in a hidden dungeon. You see, Carl puts his victims in a plexiglass tank, drowns them over the course of 40 hours, and bleaches their lifeless bodies. Unfortunately, Carl slipped into a deep, irreversible coma, just as the feds moved in on him. Now, it's up to Catherine to make contact with Carl's inner self and get the information that will save his latest prey. Catherine is both gentle and strong, as she battles the insane beast that has manifest itself in Carl's mind. She befriend's Carl's "inner child", a terrified little boy, constantly on the run and reliving past tortures at the hand of his sadistic father. Can Catherine gain the boy's trust and get him to tell what he knows, or will the beast-man get them first? An excellent psycho / supernatural chiller, THE CELL is a haunting, beautiful creep-fest! Give it a look...
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3.0 out of 5 stars CELL MATES, April 13 2004
By 
Michael Butts (Berkeley Springs, WV USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
THE CELL is one of the most visually arresting movies of the recent decade, rich in kaleidoscopic, Dalian imagery, and some beautifully arranged vistas. However, all this technical wizardry can't elevate Jennifer Lopez's wimpy performance. Yes, the woman is beautiful, and she photographs better than any beautiful actress in some time. But, Jennifer seems too inhibited to let her inner beauty outshine the outside. While she smiles and cries effectively, these emotions don't seem to be coming from her. Vincent D'Onofrio, a brilliant actor, gives a typical psychotic performance, but it is mind-numbing all the same; Vince Vaughn seems to be giving his audition for Norman Bates, but in actuality, he's better in this than he was in the remake of PSYCHO. Marie Jean Baptiste, an actress of worthy merit, is lost in the script, with only Jake Weber as Vaughn's periplectic partner, giving a performance of any nuance.
THE CELL is visually delightful, but emotionally void; however, it is a trip while you're with it. Doesn't leave you feeling much afterwards, though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for imagery, 3 stars for plot, Sept. 14 2003
By 
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
"The Cell" has been dissed as a surrealist makeover of "Silence of The Lambs." The films do have similar plots, but director Tarsem Singh's visual style renders "The Cell" worthy of consideration on its own merits. Jennifer Lopez does a good job in the heroine role, and Vincent D'Onofrio is impressive in portraying different extremes of the same bad guy. You can't help but feel for Vince Vaughn's FBI agent, who gets dragged into some maximum freakocity in his efforts to find and rescue the killer's next victim.
If you really wanna play the "derivative" card, look no further than "Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Warriors."
My advice, specific to this DVD: 1) Use the "Script-to-Screen" feature. You can see that the finished product is tighter and more effective than the original form of Mark Protosevich's script. 2) Don't bother with Tarsem's audio commentary; he sounds like Apu on stimulants. Plus, as another reviewer noted, Singh basically confesses that the look of the film is more important than its content. 3) Try Howard Shore's isolated score. He also did "Lambs," but "The Cell" has a stronger, more chaotic soundtrack.
With those caveats, the film does some things very well. The visual style is amazing, especially inside Carl Stargher's skull. The skip-frame work and film speed changes give the whole thing a dreamlike feel. While the film is not an indictment of child abuse, its most powerful scene for me is Stargher's childhood agony under his father's roof. It is a difficult minute to watch. In an early scene, the adult Carl is walking through his kitchen with the imprint of a clothing iron on his chest. Later on, we learn how that got there. I juuuust about had to put a chair through the TV screen.
Another amazing visual trick (just before the showdown) is the gold/floral border that surrounds Catherine and Child-Carl. It doesn't quite remain fixed in place as the camera moves between the two characters, and it makes the scene look as if it's in YOUR dream, rather than onscreen.
The DVD has some good knicknacks, the sound and picture transfer are top-notch, and the movie is a visual feast. With deeper character development, you'd have about another fifteen minutes and a more powerful film. Still, this is Jennifer Lopez' best work since "Selena." I refuse to call her J-Lo until I hear people calling Ben Affleck B-Aff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smarter than it seems, Aug. 7 2003
By 
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
This is a movie that, for obvious reasons, has gone overlooked/under appreciated by far too many people. For one, having Jennifer Lopez in the star role probably attracted the wrong audience for this film -- don't bother watching it if all you're interested in seeing is J-Lo in a tight outfit. Secondly, this isn't really a see-it-once-and-get-it-all type of movie, which is unfortunately what mainstream hollywood thrives on.
Yes, the basic plot is fairly simple and has been done before (detective must go into the mind of a serial killer, taken to a new extreme), but at this point pretty much every narrative film made is based on a plot which, at its core, has been done before. And yes, some of the acting is rather mediocre, but the crucial parts are, for the most part, spot-on. J-Lo truly surprised me with her acting when I first saw this.
Where this movie really shines is in its cinematography. The visuals are *amazing*, but it doesn't end there. Almost everything you see has quite a bit of symbolism attached to it, and this symbolism remains cohesive throughout the film. From pop-culture references (the set from the scene where Carl discusses his trauma and his first kill is taken from REM's video for "Losing My Religion", which had the same director as this film) to amazingly subtle internal symbolism (a nursery rhyme is sung several times which makes a connection between children and mares, which gives meaning to the scene where a live horse is split into several still-functioning but disconnected pieces in the mind of the schizophrenic Carl).
This movie takes a lot of thought and attention to truly appreciate (I've watched it at least 10 times now), but it's entirely worth it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Overkill on the Effects, May 28 2003
By 
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
I do not go to the movies that often. In fact, the last film I saw at the theater was "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999. I hate the crowds, the noise, screaming kids, and the rip-off prices of everything from the tickets to the concessions. The advent and subsequent expansion of DVD players is a godsend to someone like me. I can watch whatever I want in the comfort of home, and since I have a great sound system, the movies always sound great without attaining the eardrum shattering levels at the movie theater. But a funny thing happened since I quit frequenting the theater, namely the explosion of special effects and its substitution for things I always took for granted in a movie: a well executed and interesting plot, engaging characters, good acting, and clever scripts. This does not always happen, as some films do manage to use effects without sacrificing those things that make a great film. I thought "The Lord of the Rings" did a great job of blending characters and effects. Unfortunately, "The Cell" is a prime example of the new Hollywood philosophy of sensory overload over substance.
One presumes there are real people in "The Cell," as I recognize Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, and Dylan Baker from other film projects (Check out Baker in "Happiness," a performance that will surely stay under your skin for a long time). These people move, breathe, and occasionally speak just like real people. Regrettably, that is about all they do here because the film buries them and any attempt at a plot under an avalanche of special effects. It doesn't help when you see that the director of this movie made his bones with music videos, which becomes quite apparent as the film unfolds.
"The Cell" tries to be a psychological drama/thriller. Lopez plays a child psychiatrist/psychologist involved in a radical new method of therapy. By putting on a rubber suit that looks a lot like the space gear worn by Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey," Lopez undergoes a technique allowing her literal access to the minds of her schizophrenic patients. This is all good and well until we see the other events unfolding in the film. A serial killer with a penchant for hooks and chains named Carl Stargher slips into an irreversible coma minutes before an FBI agent played by Vaughn captures him. The feds learn about the work Lopez does with young mental patients and rushes Stargher to the laboratory where she works. This is critical because Stargher recently abducted a young woman and stashed her away at a remote site. The authorities must learn of her location before Carl's homemade killing device kicks in and dispatches the helpless lass. Needless to say, Lopez accepts the assignment and enters the comatose mind of Carl Stargher, where she discovers a twisted world of horrors ruled over by the "bad" Stargher. If only she can find the innocent "good" child Carl once was, she just might accomplish her mission and help Vaughn and company find the girl. A subplot about trying to bring patients into Lopez's mind instead of vice versa plays out in the conclusion, whereas another thread that hints at a possible romance between Lopez and Vaughn goes nowhere.
The special effects are good here, with special kudos for the opulent costumes worn by D'Onofrio and Lopez as the two grapple in Stargher's mind. Another memorable scene with a horse is sure to stand out after this movie ends. It is really too bad that the rest of the film has the potential to induce a coma in the viewer as deep one of Lopez's patients. The acting, for the most part, is bad. Lopez is so stiff you could iron clothes on her, which is surprising because I recall she did a good job at the thespian thing in "Selena." Vaughn slouches through his part as the tormented FBI agent, with bags under his eyes that are so big he would need to check them at the airport. Even D'Onofrio, an actor who usually has great range, fails to plumb the depths of his character and is largely reduced to spasmodic twitchings in a wig that looks like it was bought at a Fab Four convention. At least there are some good gore scenes in "The Cell," unsettling scenes that do help move the story along. But good effects and good gore are not enough to displace the deep deficiencies of "The Cell."
I have probably made "The Cell" sound worse than it really is. I could stand to watch it again if I was so inclined and that does say something positive about it. At least the extras on the disc are plentiful. There are deleted scenes, a couple of commentaries by the director and the effects team, an empathy test (!), a map of the human brain with detailed descriptions about the various functions performed by that organ, and some nifty stuff about the costumes. In short, "The Cell" has more downs than ups, but ultimately does achieve a measure of interest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars J. Lo and a Psycho, March 17 2003
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
I purchased "The Cell" on DVD before I had even seen the movie, because I just knew I would love it. And I was right. Visually, this film is beautiful; I love the dreamlike (or, is that 'nightmarelike'?) quality of nearly every scene. Plot-wise, this film is creepy .... Jennifer Lopez (before she became WAY over-hyped) is wonderful as Catherine, a psychologist who literally enters the minds of her patients, via some weird machine and a rubber suit. After a serial killer goes into a coma (while his current victim has not been found yet), the FBI enlist Catherine's help, in hopes of tracking down information on the girl's whereabouts. This means Catherine must enter the mind of a psycho, which leads her on a twisted journey into this guy's own personal hell.
Vincent D'Onofrio plays a great villain - in real life, Carl Stargher is a quiet man, strange but almost seemingly harmless. In the other reality that is his mind, he is crazy, dangerous and the king of his own little universe. D'Onofrio plays both parts perfectly. Vince Vaughn is also great as the FBI agent who is anxious to save the madman's current victim. And by the way, the way Carl kills his female victims is terrifying.
Soon after watching "The Cell", I watched "The Silence of the Lambs" for the first time, and I found a lot of similarities: both contain an FBI agent searching for a killer, a psychologist trying to help track him down, and a creepy killer that kidnaps and kills his victims in the most disturbing ways. If you liked "Silence of the Lambs", you will probably enjoy "The Cell" (and vice-versa). Roger Ebert actually named this film as one of his top-ten favorites of 2000, and I can see why. It's well-acted, the cinematography is beautiful, and it's pretty creepy. As far as psycho thrillers go, this one's in a cell of its own.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A truly original movie, Feb. 25 2003
Jennifer Lopez takes the starring role in this psychological thriller, as she is asked to do something most of us couldn't even dream of. She is sent into the mind (or: dreams) of traumatized serial killer Carl Stargher, played by Vincent D'Onofrio. And what Catherine Deane (Lopez) finds is a series of sick and twisted thoughts that are used to help find Stargher's last victim; who's location is not known. And although many of the manifestations and visions lead to nothing, the special effects are awesome nonetheless.
D'Onofrio's performance may be a bit sick, but you have to love or at least appreciate his acting. The things he thinks/says and the moves he makes will really make you quiver. And it's not the first time Vincent's done such things. You may remember him from 'Men In Black', as he played the alien bug with loose skin and cockroaches crawling from his mouth. In fact, his character here may be more overlooked than that of his in 'Men In Black'. Along with Lopez and D'Onofrio, you'll find 1998's "the failed remake of 'Psycho'" star Vince Vaughn. And Vince does a much better job as a simple FBI agent than he does as a killer. And although a well-rounded character of Pete Novak may be absent, he still does a good job.
What really makes this movie impressive is it's directing. Which, believe it or not, comes from a first timer: Tarsem Singh. The visual effects are so unbelievable and seemingly real that you wonder how the director began to imagine the scenes. But aside from the special effects and Vincent D'Onofrio's performance, the film is just plain average. I gave it 3 stars because of the acting, visual effects, and originality. If it had had a better ending and a more sizeable plot, 'The Cell' might have got another star. Though not to mislead you, it is a good movie. One that you need to see for yourself to believe. So if you like those serial killer thrillers; or even just good acting and directing, you need see this movie. It's really quite impressive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual, Beautiful Assault on the Senses, Nov. 17 2002
By 
vgoth (Farmington Hills, Mi United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
On par with Fincher's 'Fight Club', Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', Hawks' 'The Philadelphia Story', I have not watched a movie so many times as this. Director Tarsem Singh's vision is hallucinatory, dream-like, and stunning in it's process. David Lynch fans unite....this is his dream. A visual painting of emotions, this is The Cell. Taking cues from movies like 'Coma', combined with Marilyn Manson videos, Singh comes up with a great story, told by visualization. The inherent dread of a horse being cut up into anatomical, freeze dried specimens, with a still beating heart...the abject horror of depression when Vaughn faces the new world of Carl's delusions....chandeliers of snowflakes tinkling...every picture is a new illusion....
The Cell is a hallucinatory experience, for the straight...you don't need to do any kind of drug...this movie does it for you...
the commentary by Singh is also illuminating, how he sees each characterization and how it affected him throughout...
No doubt in my mind this will be the film people will talk about 20 years from now...it's just that good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual, Beautiful Assault on the Senses, Nov. 17 2002
By 
vgoth (Farmington Hills, Mi United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
On par with Fincher's 'Fight Club', Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', Hawks' 'The Philadelphia Story', I have not watched a movie so many times as this. Director Tarsem Singh's vision is hallucinatory, dream-like, and stunning in it's process. David Lynch fans unite....this is his dream. A visual painting of emotions, this is The Cell. Taking cues from movies like 'Coma', combined with Marilyn Manson videos, Singh comes up with a great story, told by visualization. The inherent dread of a horse being cut up into anatomical, freeze dried specimens, with a still beating heart...the abject horror of depression when Vaughn faces the new world of Carl's delusions....chandeliers of snowflakes tinkling...every picture is a new illusion....
The Cell is a hallucinatory experience, for the straight...you don't need to do any kind of drug...this movie does it for you...
the commentary by Singh is also illuminating, how he sees each characterication and how it affected him throughout...
No doubt in my mind this will be the film people will talk about 20 years from now...it's just that good.
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The Cell (Widescreen) [Import]
The Cell (Widescreen) [Import] by Tarsem Singh (DVD - 2005)
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