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DVD Review: THE CELL 2

Studio: New Line
Year: 2009
Cast: Tessie Santiago, Chris Bruno, Frank Whaley
Director: Tim Iacofano
Release Date: June 14, 2009, 2:59 pm
Rating: R for (violence and torture, some language and brief sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:33m:12s

ìI donít work for the FBI anymore.î - Maya Casteneda (Tessie Santiago)

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Sure, the original was a great, original, semi-cult classic, but this direct-to-video effort just oozes failure.

Movie Grade: F

DVD Grade: D-

Way back in 2000 (has it really been nine years?!), an edgy flick called The Cell bowed at multiplexes across the country. Riding the (at the time) wave of success that was Jennifer Lopez, and directed by Indian filmmaker Tarsem (The Fall), this film doubled its $33 million budget and became a surprise hit. So, what better time than now (heavy sarcasm intended) than to make a direct-to-DVD sequel that has little chance at even attracting the original filmís fan base, which has made that into a cult hit throughout the course of this decade? Yep, thanks New Line Home Video for The Cell 2, an exercise in ìwhat the hell were they thinking?î Looking at the bright side, maybe such a major mistake such as this will prevent future worthless, pointless direct-to-DVD sequelsÖyeah right!

Ok, supposedly thereís a plot involved here, but itís more of a collection of horribly-shot scenes cut together than anything resembling a cohesive, involving story. The ìstoryî involves Maya Casteneda (Tessie Santiago), who, after botching a hostage rescue, quits the FBI and sets up her own business. You see, Maya has ìa gift,î of the psychic variety, with which sheís made a nice little living for herself. Then, a pair of ex-colleagues, including Agent Skylar (Bart Johnson) pays Maya a visit, asking for her help in finding The Cusp, an elusive serial killer. You see, not only does The Cusp have the absolute worst serial killer name of all time, but he was apparently smart enough to elude Mayaís psychic grasp the first time around. This time, Maya just might have what it takes to catch The Cusp (itís beyond hard to type that name with a straight face).

Really the only thing that this (unintentional) farce accomplished was the generation of heaping amounts of pity for Frank Whaley. This is the same actor who showed such promise early in his career, delivering excellent performances in Career Opportunities, Swimming with Sharks, and even playing the legendary Robbie Krieger in The Doors. Now, heís slumming it in what will easily be among the worst direct-to-DVD releases of the year. If you canít figure out what Whaley is really doing in such a movie (nearly everyone will the minute heís first on screen), then never fear, the writers apparently gave up on this junk and decided to reveal the movieís huge plot twist a mere 45 minutes in, thereby killing any small chance at suspense that they could have mustered.

This comes across more like one of the countless Saw sequels than anything even slightly resembling Tarsemís original, 2000 thriller. It actually makes those torture-porn movies look like well-written classics, as this mess actually took the combined efforts of a whopping four writers to make it happen. The special effects, such a huge part of The Cellís effectiveness, are the worst Iíve seen in at least 15 years. Thereís really nothing to recommend here, as we never even get to so-bad-itís-good territory. Oh, and I donít want to forget about the end credits! Not only are they 11 minutes long, but they double as a travelogue for whatever part of the world was unfortunate enough to serve as the location for the filmís exterior shots. Seriously, almost the entire end credits sequence consists of random shots of mountainous landscapes. Good luck figuring out what this has to do with the film itself. The disc itself is just as bad as the movie, complete with awful audio and video presentations, and a by-the- numbers making-of documentary.

Chuck Aliaga June 14, 2009, 2:59 pm