The Cell (2000)

5.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking movie

No substance to cliche story, poor acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Cell

Studio:  Radical Media

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  August 18, 2000

MPAA Rating:  R


Hey, I love this music video…where’s R.E.M.?

Dr. Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a researcher in a desperate time.  She is working on a project to tap into dreams to aid patients but the prime funders might be backing out if she doesn’t have results soon from their son.  When a police officer named Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) comes to the clinic with a psychotic comatose killer Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio) who knows the hidden location of a kidnapped girl.  Now, Dr. Deane must enter the mind of a killer but runs the risk of falling into the killer’s delusions as time ticks away for the girl slowly drowning in a cell.


I have got to stop eating right before bed

Directed by Tarsem Singh (generally just credited as Tarsem), The Cell is a sci-fi fantasy thriller.  The movie’s visuals were critically acclaimed, but critics split on the film themselves.  The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup (losing to How the Grinch Stole Christmas).

When The Cell was coming out, I was rather excited.  The movie’s extremely visual nature was like a candy-coated treat, and early reviews I read of the film were quite positive.  Going to the theater and seeing the movie left me with another opinion…and it was rather disappointing.


Snip, snip!

Roger Ebert raved about The Cell and what a visionary movie and story it was.  While I do agree with a lot of the visionary aspects, the story is quite awful.  The movie is loaded with generic characters and a painfully obvious basic story.  I would venture to argue that it isn’t even foreshadowing throughout most of the movie when they tell you what is going to happen over and over again…it is lazy writing that ruins the visuals.

The movie isn’t aided by the rather wooden acting by both Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn.  Lopez is great for the visuals but her acting just isn’t up to the level.  Vaughn plays his painfully generically tortured officer too obvious and overacted.  The only shining part of the acting is Vincent D’Onofrio who like normal is creepy and effective.  Other actors appearing in the film include Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dylan Baker, James Gammon, Dean Norris, and Peter Sarsgaard.


Hail Jennifer, full of grace…

Visually the movie is quite stunning.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of story and poor acting, these visuals lack substance.  They generally come off as a music video and there are some that even closely resemble his R.E.M. video “Losing My Religion”.  I actually forgot he directed that until watching The Cell again…but it is almost identical that isn’t good unless you are creating an homage (and he isn’t prolific enough to make an homage to himself).

The Cell is a big disappointment.  It is predictable and cliché and lets down the viewers who are hoping for a smart sci-fi film that lives up to the visuals that it presents.  Despite this, the movie was a big success and does have a cult following.  The movie was followed by a direct-to-DVD sequel The Cell 2 in 2009 with an unrelated story.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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