SHITFEST 2015 ~ SUMMER: MAGIC MIKE (2012)

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Here’s my entry for Shitfest. Hope everyone enjoys it.

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Shitfest Summer 2015: Magic Mike(2012)

A quick disclaimer before I begin my first entry into Shitfest. This review is written from the differing points of view of two people; the articulate and imaginative Vinnie that you all know and love, and his virile, x-rated Adonis of an alter ego The Satrap of Sin, who is if you haven’t guessed it a male stripper. With Vinnie’s take, you’ll get the usual highly descriptive and critical work of a film reviewer. With Satrap, you may get a little extra and maybe a raunchy tale or two. I would like to thank Zoe, Table 9 Mutant and Eric for giving me the inspiration for this alter ego and I hope this review can be revealing enough for you all and as dirty as can be.

Vinnie’s Take:

Well what’s there to say? Magic Mike is for lack of a better…

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Charmed Season 4

Following the tragic ending to Season 3, I think a lot of people were wondering how Charmed could carry on without Prue in it. They found their solution in the casting of another sister, portrayed by Rose McGowan. Interestingly, this new cast member fits excellently into the scheme of things and brings forth the theme of adjustment that makes Season 4 so great. With the continuing darkness of the last season, it proves Season 4 is another entertaining and enthralling entry in the Charmed universe. Be warned, spoilers will follow.

We begin with the emotional fallout following Prue’s death. Piper(Holly Marie Combs) is taking it particularly badly as she has always had someone older than her to lean on. Charmed Season 4 Piper Despite having guardian angel and husband Leo(Brian Krause) there for comfort, Piper initially can’t handle what has happened. Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) feels sadness but attempts to remain strong by focusing her energies on protecting half demon lover Cole(Julian McMahon), as there is a bounty on his head courtesy of The Source. With Prue’s death, The Power of Three is severed and Piper and Phoebe are now more open to demonic threat. Yet through strange events another person comes into their life. This person is Paige Matthews(Rose McGowan), who it transpires is their half-sister that they never knew about. The girl’s mother had an affair with her Whitelighter which resulted in her giving birth to this magical child. In order to keep it secret from The Elders, they had her adopted at birCharmed Season 4 sistersth. Paige is independent, feisty yet also sympathetic. Her powers which stem from her Whitelighter side include orbing herself and objects around her. As Piper and Phoebe welcome her into their circle after initial hesitation, Paige begins to find it difficult having led such a seemingly normal life and now battling evil. She does eventually get the hang of it and harness the craft. With The Power of Three restored again, the girls are powerful once more as well as closer. And they’re going to need to be with The Source attempting to kill them on a regular basis. YCharmed Evil Coleet even when it appears that they vanquish The Source, he finds a way to come back and turns Cole back to the dark side once more. With evil now consuming him and aided by the intelligent but cunning Seer( Debbi Morgan), Cole transpires to make Phoebe his dark queen of evil. So in the midst of battling demons, Phoebe must make her choice: fulfill her destiny as a Charmed one or transfer to the side of evil in order to be with her beloved.

With Shannen Doherty not on the show, you can imagine that it was a big gamble to introduce a new character into the mix. But it actually works having another sister as it gives a new dynamic to the girls. Piper shifts from being the middle sister to the strong-willed oldest, although this adjustment is painful for her. Phoebe, having always been the most free-spirited is now the middle sister, trying to keep peace and be level-headed. And the newest addition Paige is spontaneous, sexy and initially reluctant to make sense of her role in this circle. It helps that McGowan works so well with her co-stars and gradually shows us the growing bond that heals the broken Power of Three. Season 4 also succeeds based on the dark overtones carried over from Season 3. The presence of death is always there, from Prue’s untimely demise to the various threats that want to eliminate the girls, death is surrounding all of them. Charmed The SourcePlus battling The Source( we actually see his monstrous face this season) and then contending with demonic Cole provides for explosive action. The episode in which they battle The Source is one of the best episodes in the show’s run with excitement, dread and magic all playing their parts. Once more, there is a consistency throughout Season 4 that puts it up there with the best work in the show. Season 3 has the advantage of being my favourite, but Season 4 comes an extremely close second. Sure there’s the odd dud episode here and there, but the overall quality is high.

What is really impressive over the course of this season is the way in which it gives mostly equal time to each sister’s arcs. Phoebe has the biggest arc this time, with her precarious love for a tempted Cole putting her in a particularly difficult position. It’s interesting to see how much Phoebe has grown up now, and how being now in the middle of two sisters, she has a greater understanding of how Piper used to feel. Phoebe is full of passion for Cole and is turned to side of evil by him for a time and realises that she’s carrying a child of pure evil, but Phoebe’s heart is good and true and this is what stops her from fully transitioning to demon queen. When she and her sisters finally vanquish evil Cole( fear not fans of Cole, he finds a way to return), you can see the devastation on her face at the result of her doomed romance. Charmed Comforting PhoebeThe vanquish then leads to a heartfelt scene in which Piper and Paige silently comfort a sobbing Phoebe. By the linking of hands and embraces, their care for their sister is rendered beautifully without any words. Phoebe must then contend with carrying the heir to evil and The Seer attempting to steal it. Eventually, the child proves too strong for The Seer when she gets it and she is vanquished by its great power.

Piper is portrayed now as the most maternal sister as she manages to harness her newer power and use it well. It is only right that she discuss the possibility of having a child with Leo, but Piper is still unsure of whether it is safe for a child in a world full of demons and danger. Piper has clearly evolved from how she was originally in Season 1, in terms of both personal and emotional strength. And with now having to fill the shoes of her deceased sister, Piper continues to slowly grow stronger as the head of the family. Piper may have always been the glue to the family, but now she must embrace her role as the oldest and most responsible of the sisters. Charmed Paige

The character of Paige gives us fun and vibrancy, with a dash of awkwardness at getting to know her long-lost sisters after being independent for most of her life. But that’s not all, we glimpse a sadness to Paige that stems from her adopted parent’s death in a car wreck when she was a rebellious teenager. In one of the strongest episodes of the season, she journeys back to discover what happened. What she learns is that none of it was not her fault, there was nothing she could do to stop their death. Although she does see that she managed to survive by accidentally orbing out of the car before it crashed and this answers her question of why she didn’t perish. Paige is such a great character that slots into the scheme of things with her stubborn personality and compassion making her relatable, as well as her suspicions that Cole is back to his old self again.

Once more, the cast of Charmed delivers with great performances for all. Alyssa Milano continues to impress in the role of Phoebe and now shows her mature and grounded side. Although she can still be impulsive and still have a sense of fun, having to be the middle sister changes her a lot as she takes on the mediator role between experienced Piper and novice Paige. Milano really sells it all the way, especially in Phoebe’s turn to evil for a time. Phoebe, as have all of her sisters, has at one point or another been taken over by evil and been able to fight it. But this time, she really comes close to becoming a dangerous force of evil.  Charmed Sisters Battling The SourceThe newest addition to the cast, Rose McGowan, slots in very nicely as Paige. McGowan gives Paige a sense of fun and a compassionate core that manifests itself in her job as a social worker. Paige really has to grow quickly and learn the craft and while she may find it difficult, she shows that she is a talented and powerful third of The Power of Three. Rose McGowan works excellently alongside Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano to create a fresh dynamic within the sisters that grows as the season progresses. Holly Marie Combs exudes the struggle of changing roles as Piper becomes the responsible older one, twinned with a vulnerability. With the moving delivery of Combs, Piper begins to embrace the role and take on the maternal side of her personality. Just like with Phoebe, it is great to see the growth that Piper has gone through and how she is now becoming a commanding person.

Julian McMahon excels at showing Cole being taken over by evil with malicious glee and a sinister smile. There is still a part of the character that loves Phoebe, but it is not enough to overcome the evil that has always been inside of him. Although Brian Krause isn’t given as much to do this season as Leo as he has in previous seasons, he still makes his presence felt with his humane words and guiding spirit aiding the girls. Dorian Gregory portraying Darryl becomes more involved with his protective nature and his deep appreciation of the girls. This is probably the first season in which Darryl faces a lot of the dangers that the girls experience which in turn draws him closer to them. It helps that Gregory is given more material to work with than before and does it excellently. The SeerSpecial mention for this season has to go to Debbi Morgan in her portrayal of The Seer. Sneaky, wise and silver-tongued, she knows exactly what she wants and how to manipulate others to get it. Morgan is clearly having a ball playing this despicable character with her throaty voice and sneaky grins, while adding that sense of mystery surrounding The Seer.

  1. Charmed Again Part 1- A
  2. Charmed Again Part 2- A
  3. Hell Hath No Fury- B+
  4. Enter the Demon – C-
  5. Size Matters – D
  6. A Knight to Remember – B
  7. Brain Drain – A
  8. Black as Cole – B-
  9. Muse to My Ears – B+
  10. A Paige from the Past – A
  11. Trial by Magic – D
  12. Lost and Bound – B+
  13. Charmed and Dangerous – A+
  14. The Three Faces of Phoebe – C
  15. Marry-Go-Round – B
  16. The Fifth Halliwheel – A
  17. Saving Private Leo – B-
  18. Bite Me – B
  19. We’re Off to See the Wizard – B+
  20. Long Live the Queen – A
  21. Womb Raider – B
  22. Witch Way Now? – B

Fresh, intriguing and often quite moving, Season 4 of Charmed is proof that a show can bounce back after losing a cast member and still be successful.

 

Charmed Season 3

With Season 3, Charmed becomes darker and more personal. And with that, it emerges as probably my favourite season of the entire show’s run. Season 1 and Season 2 were amazing and carefully balanced humour, sisterly relationships and the elements of supernatural, but with this season, we get a welcome dash of seriousness and poignant emotion. This gives Season 3 a necessary drama as we see the Halliwell’s face demons, discover some eventful family history and experience eventual tragedy. Be warned readers, major spoilers will follow in this review.

Prue( Shannen Doherty), Piper(Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) Halliwell continue to battle demons, taking down the supernatural foes that come their way in the hope of stopping the spread of evil and protecting the greater good. Charmed Season 3The burden of this often weighs heavy upon the girls, but as it is their destiny to be protectors of good, they don’t really have a choice. In fact, Prue takes certain stage this season and announces herself as supremely powerful and capable. She may have wanted a normal life at the start of the show, but now with their Wiccan destiny there, Prue has taken it by the horns and has become a very quick study in all things supernatural. She can now channel her power for great potential and is clearly someone you shouldn’t trifle with. Piper has taken her relationship with Leo(Brian Krause) to the next step and becomes engaged, despite the trepidation of The Elders. Through Piper’s deep love, the veil that has protected the union between witches and Whitelighters marrying is lifted and Piper finally marries her beloved. Plus, Piper gains a new power to blow things up with a wave of her hands which she at first struggles to control but comes in very handy when battling evil. And last but not least is Phoebe( who acquires the new power of levitation), meeting someone who will have a deep impact on her life.Phoebe and Cole That person is Cole Turner(Julian McMahon), a charming district attorney who takes a romantic interest in Phoebe which of course she reciprocates. Secretly though, Cole is half demon( his vicious demonic state is known as Belthazor) and has been sent to kill the Charmed Ones by The Triad, a group of exceptionally evil demons who want to assume power. What Cole hasn’t bargained for is genuinely falling for Phoebe and thus putting his mission to kill her in jeopardy. All of this leads Phoebe to a crisis when she does find out the true nature of Cole as she has deeply fallen for him. And though the sisters must vanquish him, Phoebe lies to protect Cole from harm as she can’t let go of him. Yet when her sisters find out it is a hard task explaining this to them, especially to Prue who suspected Cole all along. Add to this The Source getting stronger and gearing up for an attack on the sisters, and we have one hell of a season that comes to a highly charged and devastating finale.

What really gives Season 3 that something special is the sense of consistency in it and the emotions that are drawn out. While Charmed is a heavily serialized show, there is a greater sense of overriding events here. The stories that populate the season are darker and more mature than before and while not every episode is perfect, the majority of them this season are outstanding, well-written and acted with excellence( as many people may have gathered by my mostly high episode ratings at the bottom of this review). Piper and Leo's WeddingThe themes of deep love come to the forefront as Piper finally marries Leo and Phoebe falls for the devilish Cole and must consider the consequences. A poignant sense of emotion pervades Season 3 as threats become more personal to the girls and their magic is constantly tested by every force of evil imaginable. There is still the humour there for enjoyment, but a greater sense of maturity added to the mix. We finally glimpse The Source, although he is hooded and enshrouded with mystery. But just from hearing his deep voice and his deceptive ways lets us know that he will be one hellish evil that will challenge the sisters. And with this season thankfully, things we’ve been wondering about are explained. We get to see The Elders and their heavenly domain and the girl’s father manages to patch things up after being absent for so long because he wanted to steer clear of the world of witches and demons. I liked how this season brought these to attention and finally addressed them properly.

The most emotional and sad moment of this season is the death of Prue in the finale. Prue has always been the most assured and powerful sister who has to take responsibility. Prue's DeathSo to have her die at the hands of The Source’s henchman while trying to save an innocent is such a tragedy and definitely makes for wrenching viewing. As we’ve watched her grow along with her sisters, we’ve developed a bond with her. I have noticed that leading up to the tragedy there are subtle references to death among the sisters that manifests itself in different forms. The finale is one powerhouse of an episode of danger, demons and tragedy that ranks as my favourite episode in the show’s entire run because it takes risks and delivers emotional viewing. And with that, we are left wondering how the show can continue with the Power of Three severed.

It may be her last season on the show, but Shannen Doherty still gives one hell of an impact as Prue. Tough, wise, protective yet compassionate, Prue has truly grown since becoming a witch. Doherty brings out that inner strength and sensitive side and works wonders with it. It may be her last season, but Doherty makes sure her part will never be forgotten in the Charmed canon. Charmed Group PhotoAnd I do believe it is very fitting that Doherty herself directed her last episode which is truly a testament to her abilities. On a side note, Doherty also directs another very good episode during the season in which she is sent into a time portal of the Wild West that will keep repeating until justice is served. Holly Marie Combs continues to convey deep emotions and passion as Piper, who is taking control of her life for good. Combs just makes you feel every emotion that Piper is feeling through small and subtle things. Piper is the main heart of the show and her love Coyote Piperfor Leo is the loveliest relationship as we see their struggles, but ultimately their undying love for each other. It’s very nice to see Piper still in control but not afraid to let her hair down in one particular episode. OK, she may be possessed by a demon when she table dances in leather, but it definitely provides a different and sexy side to Piper and a very memorable moment of an excellently constructed season. Alyssa Milano excellently brings forth the sympathetic yet confused side of Phoebe out as she wrestles with her love for half-demon Cole. You can’t help but feel sorry for Phoebe in that the first guy she genuinely loves turns out to be mainly evil. Phoebe has always been the sister to wear her heart on her sleeve and see the good in people, but here it puts her in jeopardy yet also in the face of her true love. Just like Piper’s relationship with Leo, being in love with Cole proves hard for Phoebe as she is torn about whether he can remain good because he loves her or that he will revert back to being Belthazor. This is the season that really lets all the sisters get a moment to shine. For Prue there is her showing of strength, reconciliation with her estranged father and her tragic death. With Piper, there is her sexy table dance and magical wedding( attended by Grams and her mother in spirit form). And for Phoebe there is her defiance of her sisters and false vanquish of Cole.

Julian McMahon, being the newest person to cast is excellent as Cole. Caught between his desire for Phoebe and his evil nature, Cole is one interesting character added to the show. Charmed ColeMcMahon embodies the cunning, ruthless side to Cole with aplomb as well as the humane area that wants to be good for the sake of his love. I mean Cole even kills the Triad for the greater good, yet this in turn puts The Source higher up on the girl’s list of enemies and places him in extreme danger as the master of everything evil does not take kindly to people turning their backs on him. It also helps that McMahon has genuine chemistry with Alyssa Milano, which highlights the danger and passion of their union. Brian Krause provides understanding, brotherly care and a sense of determination to Leo as he watches over the girls and fulfills his beautiful relationship with Piper. As recurring aid Officer Darryl Morris, Dorian Gregory is likable, caring and sometimes bewildered by the various cases he investigates that tend to link back to the sisters who he considers family.

  1. The Honeymoon’s Over – C
  2. Magic Hour – C+
  3. Once Upon a Time – D-
  4. All Halliwell’s Eve – B
  5. Sight Unseen – B+
  6. Primrose Empath – A
  7. Power Outage – A
  8. Sleuthing with the Enemy – A
  9. Coyote Piper – B+
  10. We All Scream for Ice Cream – A
  11. Blinded by the Whitelighter – B
  12. Wrestling with Demons – D
  13. Bride and Gloom – B+
  14. The Good, the Bad and the Cursed – A
  15. Just Harried – B
  16. Death Takes a Halliwell – B+
  17. Pre-Witched – A+
  18. Sin Francisco – A
  19. The Demon Who Came in from the Cold – C-
  20. Exit Strategy – C+
  21. Look Who’s Barking – B
  22. All Hell Breaks Loose – A+

Darker, more deeply urgent and loaded with emotion, Charmed Season 3 is definitely my favourite season of the show.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly

This post is part of a blogathon orchestrated by the amazing Jordan Dodd. It is to showcase the outstanding work of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. For me, he was an acting chameleon who could shift into any genre or any character no matter what.  The performance of his that I’ve chosen to highlight is in Along Came Polly.

Along Came Polly is a film I really don’t like, it just isn’t my kind of movie at all. The focus is meant to be on Ben Stiller overcoming his wife cheating on him by beginning to date kooky Jennifer Aniston. As a film, it is weak and unconvincing but the one good thing in it is Philip Seymour Hoffman. He portrays Stiller’s best friend Sandy Lyle, a former child star who is past it but still holding onto the glory of his youth.Sandy Lyle Hoffman just brings so much enjoyable energy, geeky charm and one-liners to the part. His basketball scene in which he showcases his inability to score a single shot is hysterically funny to watch and his call for timeout is a hoot. His impassioned speech to Stiller’s colleagues after he has to step in is filled with deep humour and gift. He tries to make a comeback in Jesus Christ Superstar and still thinks the whole play is featured on him. Even though the part is supposed to just be the witty sidekick to Stiller, Hoffman makes it much more than that with hysterical results. I really can’t fault Hoffman in this film as he takes what is a really bad movie and gives it something memorable. I think I still quote certain phrases from his character here, such as “Let it rain”.

Thanks for this opportunity to do this Jordan. I really enjoyed highlighting the great work of Hoffman and this blogathon is really neat. Everyone please check out Jordan’s amazing and insightful blog as you will not regret it.

The Brood

Film Title

The Brood

Director

David Cronenberg

Starring

  • Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan
  • Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth
  • Art Hindle as Frank Carveth
  • Cindy Hinds as Candice Carveth

A disturbing and unsettling horror film given a personal slant because of what director David Cronenberg had been going through, The Brood will frighten you as well as leave you with questions because of the strange impact it has.

The eccentric and questionable Dr. Hal Raglan has found an unusual way to treat his disturbed patients. The treatment literally allows the patient to manifest their pain, anger and frustration as various bodily effects like legions, bumps and blisters.The Brood Poster He is in the process of treating Nola Carveth, who has suffered some sort of breakdown while being locked in an acrimonious custody battle with her estranged husband Frank for their five-year-old daughter Candice. Raglan sees Nola as one of his star patients and believes his treatments are working as he begins to break down the defensive barriers she puts up because of incidents in her past. Yet Frank is not so convinced and certain events like the discovery of bruises on his daughter’s back after visiting her mother, lead him to believe that Nola is behind this and that the treatment is having a dangerous impact on those subjected to it. Yet while the confused Frank is trying to piece together this puzzle, a series of grisly murders are committed by what appears to be a swarm of disfigured dwarves on those that have hurt Nola in the past adding further mystery and terror to the mix. The BroodAs he digs deeper, he makes a shocking discovery that leads him back to his wife and the treatment while trying to protect his young daughter caught in the middle of it all and open to the threat of the eponymous brood.

David Cronenberg infuses The Brood with a personal stamp, seemingly influenced by the divorce he was going through at the time. The Brood may derive its horror from the grisly murders and unusual bodily treatments, but a lot of the horror comes from the themes of divorce and the impact of it on those surrounding it, mainly the young daughter. Cronenberg paces the film very well as we build up to the hellish revelations of dubious psychology and the morphing of ones body into its own entity of rage and hate. There are times when the pace becomes too glacial for its own good and the sheer strangeness of the film threatens to overpower, but it just keeps the right amount of mystery, terror and freaky goings on to keep you interested and invested in this disturbing tale. The Brood NolaA quick warning for anyone thinking of watching The Brood, it is not a film for everyone and if you have a weak stomach, you might want to look away as things get particularly grisly as the film goes on.While subtlety is not exactly the film’s strong suit, I was interested in how it built up to the horror rather than just had it from the first frame. The Brood FrankWith this, we do get a sense of mystery as we assume the role of Frank, trying to discover the extent of Raglan’s treatment. And while there is gore( specifically in the last half an hour when things boil over) , it feels more controlled and gives it an unexpected jolt of terror rather than having a detrimental effect on the story. While some of the special effects are a little dated, many of them surprisingly hold up very well, especially in the case of the murderous brood of the title. Howard Shore provides an eerie score of slashing strings and reverberating menace that adds yet another layer of power to the disturbing events that begin to unfold.

Oliver Reed is oiliness personified as the ambitious yet eccentric psychologist with the unusual treatments that lead to inevitable terror and destruction. Oliver Reed The BroodJust watching his methods of treatment and his refusal to stop is chilling indeed as he doesn’t see the grisly impact it will have on other people. Samantha Eggar sends shivers down the spine as the disturbed Nola, bringing forth an intense, wild-eyed performance that is hard to forget. Nola is the main catalyst of the story with her deep-seated anxieties boiling over into rage and Eggar makes the character an unforgettable creation. Art Hindle makes the most of the part of Frank, and exudes the confusion and tenacity of a man trying to piece together a disturbing set of events and protect his young daughter from harm. Cindy Hinds plays the traumatised child very well and really is emotionally convincing in this disturbing film.

Deeply unsettling and stomach-churning, The Brood is a whole bunch of horror rolled into a package that also functions as something of a drama too thanks to the impact of Cronenberg’s connection to the tale.

Which do you Prefer? T.V. Reviews or Movie Reviews

Question MarkI’ve recently been asking myself the same question. And as all of you loyal followers are so great with feedback, I thought I’d ask you. Do you like my movie reviews and analysis better? Or is it my Television thoughts that captures your interest? Or do you like them both equally? I’m just asking as I want to know your opinions and I know I can trust you all. And plus I want to review things I know you’ll enjoy reading about.

Also, in the future I will continue with writing both movie and television reviews, so no need to worry there. So whatever your opinion is please give it. Is there a specific show you think I’d enjoy watching? Or a specific movie that you think would catch my eye?

The Cell

Film Title

The Cell

Director

Tarsem Singh

Starring

  • Jennifer Lopez as Catherine Deane
  • Vince Vaughn as Agent Peter Novak
  • Vincent D’Onofrio as Carl Stargher
  • Dylan Baker as Henry West
  • Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Dr. Miriam Kent

A visually disturbing and unique film, but also hollow and poorly plotted, The Cell is sometimes its own worst enemy in terms of what it wants to be. It may boast the occasional moment of understanding, but you just get the feeling it could have been so much more if differences were made to it.

Catherine Deane is a psychologist who deals with cases of comatose patients. The Cell PosterThrough an unusual and high-tech treatment, she can place herself in the mind of the patient and try to connect with them, in the hoped of coaxing them out of their coma. The FBI enlists her services when Carl Stargher, a serial killer falls into a coma after kidnapping his latest victim. Carl keeps his victims in a confined cell in an unknown location that eventually fills with water to slowly drown them. Carl after killing them commits atrocities to their bodies and crafts the women into human dolls. With Carl now in a comatose state, the whereabouts of his latest victim are not known and Agent Peter Novak wants to save the woman before it is too late. Catherine agrees to enter Carl’s mind in order to discover where the latest victim is. Yet she is not prepared for what greets her when she enters his mind. It manifests as disturbing images from his childhood in which his father routinely abused him and strange visions of the adult Carl who delights in graphic and sadistic murder. The Cell Catherine and CarlWhile trying to stop herself getting too involved with the increasingly bizarre visions and discerning herself that it is all not a reality, Catherine becomes lost in this dangerous dreamscape believing it to be real. Now caged in his mind along with Peter who ventures in to help her, she must find a way out before her time runs out.

If The Cell was purely judged from a visual standpoint, it would be a masterpiece. Director Tarsem Singh knows how to shoot these vivid and very disturbing journeys into Carl’s warped mind with style and verve. The Cell CatherineStriking and unusual images abound: a horse is cut in half and its still beating heart is shown, the walls of a palace become the cloak of Carl as a king, Catherine imprisoned in a gravity defying cage and also being dressed in unusually restrictive clothing as a fantasy figure. The list could go on about how amazing the film looks, it’s a shame that the plotting, pacing and writing could have been much better. Singh has a craft when it comes to the fantasy and horror aspects, but his grasp of pace and other things isn’t as deft. In the beginning, The Cell just meanders along for big stretches and only really comes alive when Catherine enters into Carl’s twisted psyche. Character development among the supporting cast and Vince Vaughn’s character is almost non-existent and none of them are really that interesting.  The Cell SceneAs I mentioned earlier, The Cell doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It feels like a three-way cross between a thriller, horror and dashes of fantasy. And while I have nothing against the melding of genres together, The Cell lurches from one to the other without a care and it just makes the film feel messy. At least there’s a Middle Eastern infused score from Howard Shore that compliments the haunting cornucopia of imagery and keeps the plot going despite the flaws of it.

Jennifer Lopez, while not being the first person to spring to mind in playing a psychologist, actually brings warmth and sympathy to her underwritten character. Lopez must also get credit for the amount of convincing fear she portrays when she is entangled in the dreams and memories of Carl. Vince Vaughn tries his best but is saddled with such an uninteresting character, that he can’t really register anything of memory. The real acting highlight of The Cell is Vincent D’Onofrio. The Cell CarlBringing his considerable hulking and physical presence to the role, he delves into the disturbed mind of Carl and gives us the child in a man’s body who has no idea of right and wrong due to the horrendous abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. When you finish this film, it will be D’Onofrio that you will remember. Dylan Baker and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are given absolutely nothing to do as fellow psychologists and their inclusion adds up to nothing.

So for all the audacity and visual impact, The Cell doesn’t add up to an excellent movie.