Monday, June 13, 2016

Lloyd Dobler Fights Stephen King’s Facebook Zombies, or I Watched Cell, So You Don’t Have To

The millennium has not been kind to John Cusack.  After an easy transition from the 80’s into indie action hero in Con Air (1997) and Grosse Point Blank (1997) and then quirky leading man in Being John Malkovich (1999) and High Fidelity (2000), his career has been a series of big-budget missteps like 2012 (2009) and self-referential comedies like Hot Tub Time Machine (2010).  But that doesn’t stop him from being one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood with an obvious affection for the horror genre as shown with efforts like Stephen King’s other haunted hotel movie 1408  (2007), his portrayal of Edgar Allen Poe in The Raven (2012) and his producing and starring in Stephen King’s latest zombie cell phone movie, Cell (2016).
A tense airport action scene quickly establishes the premise that an errant cell phone signal, a pulse, if you will, is driving people crazy and turning them into twitchy zombie herds armed with melee weapons and foaming at the mouth with a 28 Days Later-rage virus.  You’ve seen this movie before in Rabid (1977), The Crazies (1973), Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956), the more richly developed Pulse (2006) or any other non-zombie zombie movie.
The requisite CGI-heavy disaster scenes are perfectly adequate, just unimpressive, as are the rampaging hordes and scenes of civil unrest.  In this post-Walking Dead world, we’re used to this level of chaos, and also immune to it.  There’s just nothing new or particularly innovative to Cell, and I would have liked it a lot more if I’d seen it ten years ago.  The source material does come across like an old baby boomer complaining about these darn kids and their cell phones and social medias/
With Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack’s co-star from 1408, and filled with stock Stephen King characters we’ve seen in every ensemble cast from Salem’s Lot to The Stand; The Sensitive Writer Surrogate, The Sage Father Figure, The Cute Accessible Girl and The Bookish Articulate Teen Who’s Really a Younger Sensitive Writer Surrogate.  Cell succumbs from the same malaise that most of Stephen King’s modern works suffers from: a great premise with superbly defined characters that go on an intriguing quest only to end up with a mediocre if not lazy finish (usually involving aliens), almost as if the writer had lost interest after sinking 5000-plus pages into the story.
Also look out for Isabelle Furhman, who may you remember as Esther from Orphan (2009), all grown up but with those same creepy, dead doll eyes.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.