Written by Stephen King, Adam Alleca
Directed by Todd Williams
2016 - The Genre Co.
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson. Isabelle Fuhrman. Stacy Keach.
Eclectic Rating: stars
How many production companies do you need to make a movie? Clearly one is not enough anymore, but in the case of Cell five certainly didn't help, because this is one pretty bad horror movie. I almost read the whole book way back when but I had to put it down, it just wasn't keeping my attention. There were only about 50 pages to go too. Seems I have lost my taste for the more recent Stephen King offerings. Maybe I just grew out of it. His earlier work is still engaging to me; colorful, fun characters and great plots. As far as the films, I'm a big fan of the Creepshows, Carrie, Needful Things, Children of the Corn, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, etc. We re-watch many of these movies each year. This one just lost me.
Fast backward to 2016 and this movie comes out. Fast forward to 2021 and I actually watch it. I spotted it on Amazon for a low-cost rental and figured, what they hey? Almost immediately my wife didn't dig it, she was ripping on it after the first two minutes and I told her to give it some time. Afterward she said I owe her three movies of her choice for making her sit through this one.
Let me preface my criticism with some much deserved praise: I absolutely love John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, they are awesome actors. Sometimes the actor can carry a movie to an extent, but you still need good direction and the story needs to be put together properly. I've seen train wrecks in which actors who were awesome in other rolls, completely sucked because of bad direction and lack of freedom. Conversely there are awful films in which the actors aren't that great and the director gives them too much freedom. In the case of Cell, we had good actors but lousy story telling.
I think the problem with Cell lies with the original story and the adaptation. Here we have a tedious, reformatted zombie apocalypse scenario. We don't get enough preloading of what Cusack's character, a graphic novel illustrator, has created—spoiler alert—when his creation becomes central to the plot there is no rhyme or reason why he, of all people, is singled out as the guy who's work is the conduit for the devil to take over mankind.
That said, there are a lot of great moments in the film and the production is great. At times it's a fun romp, especially the gasoline distribution. Just don't expect any redeeming value or epic revelations. In fact the ending is the dumbest crammed up two minutes I've ever seen. They should have stopped at the grand, explosive annihilation and faded to black but there's a burp of some pointless footage at the end that ruins it all. I think the film would have been tolerable and maybe worth mentioning to a friend if they left the weird ending out.
I should have taken heed of the two star average rating, and my wife's suggestion early on during the movie, because I wouldn't have to sit through The Sound of Music, Coyote Ugly and Magic Mike next weekend. Oh well. I'll give this two and a half stars. Not that critics know what the hell they're talking about anyway. Har.
Oh, and one more thing... It's high time sound editors start learning about wildlife. Barred Owls do not sound like Great Horned Owls. That is all.
Find Cell at Amazon.com (paid link)More about Cell at IMDb.com
Last Update: 19 Apr, 2021