Cell online movie review - Badly done from the outset - not even for fans of the book
Hello. I am a big fan of Stephen King and a massive fan of the Cell novel which I read in 2007. I have waited years for them to make a screen version of this and have had to endure seriously bad variations on the story such as The Signal to name but one.
I am well aware of how difficult Stephen King's long stories convert to video compared to his short stories, and definitely the way to go is to make them into mini-series in order get everything in. The Stand is a good example of how to do this properly. Although not everyone is a fan of The Stand it as pretty well done and starred some famous faces of the time. The Langoliers was another. The Langoliers book scared the heck out of me and although the mini series was often difficult to follow because of the complicated story they managed to get everything in - especially the 'silence', the main scary part of the story.
A great example of a short story which made the extraordinarily successful jump to screen was The Mist, in my opinion the best that has yet been done.
(I have clicked the box for spoilers) The problem with The Cell is that there is far too much going on in the book to fit into a short motion picture. Yes folks, that book (if you've read it) that took a week to get through is reproduced here quite poorly, in one and a half hours.
Clearly, to shorten it down back stories would obviously have to be changed or shortened down but come on, removing them completely and having no back stories whatsoever for most of the characters makes it difficult to bond with them.
There are scenes in the film where the characters seem to be very close to each other, and have a strong bond with each other but the movie moves at such an accelerated pace even someone just casually watching this would struggle to find the close relationships plausible as none of the people portrayed have had long enough to get to know each other. The main character, 'Clay', portrayed here by John Cusack is an extremely likable character in the novel. In this adaptation we barely get to know him.
Because the novel mostly consists of what Clay is observing, thinking or dreaming, therein is the explanation for the distinct lack of dialogue in the film, and what exists is difficult to understand. Also, the gaps between big events are not filled in for the movie and you will struggle to work out how long the events in the movie will have actually supposed to have been going on for.
The Raggedy Man, ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN THE STORY is changed from a black man into a white man, and his name has been changed to The King Of The Internet. Sorry to disappoint everyone but the words Raggedy Man aren't mentioned once here. The novel isn't that old and you might wonder why on Earth they did this as the internet is mentioned in the novel so it's hardly that they need to bring the story 'up to date'. This is a contemporary story set in the last decade and they didn't need to do this.
John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson and to a degree Stacy Keach are all completely miscast in this production. I do not know what possessed SLJ to feature in this poor film as I've rarely seen him a bad film but he just seemed so out of place here (in the novel he is white, and is also gay - something not mentioned or explored in the movie)
The novel consisted of several main settings where the characters settled for longer periods. One important one is missing (I won't tell you which one but it spoiled the film further)
Oh dear. I'm ranting so much you, the reader, will probably be having problems following what I am saying. Well, that is the film right there.
They should have made this into a mini-series. They should have had some more suitable actors. They should have stuck to the story like glue. It worked for The Langoliers and The Mist. They should have included the levitation and telekinesis elements. They were frightfully important to the story. They should have either ended it the same way as the book (open but you can close it in your mind) or ended it the same way they did The Mist (open, but with some closure). The ending in this was just ridiculous and got me no-where. It was a real WTFF ending.
Very disappointed. I initially would have said it was for fans of the book only but if you are a fan of the book you will likely be extremely irritated by the time the end credits roll, or if you haven't read the book you will be completely confused. I'd like to think someone else will have another go at this story within the next 30 years and do a better job. My rating, 3/10. Don't go into this with high hopes like I did. It wasn't a fun ride.