Paramount. Disney. MGM. 20th Century Fox. Warner Brothers. For the longest time, these studios were what made Hollywood and the movie industry great. But somewhere along the way, something changed. Something very bad happened. Somewhere in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these five major studios went from churning out some of the greatest titles that audiences have ever seen to churning out nothing but prequels, sequels, and remakes. Now in 2014, there seems to be no end in sight for this trend from Hollywood’s own “Power 5” (only sports fans will get that reference). Thankfully, independent studios such as IFC Films, Level 33 Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and eOne Entertainment have picked up the slack, releasing some of the most original and entertaining movies that audiences have seen in years. One example of that originality lies in eOne’s recently released thriller Cell 213. The movie’s box art and description leads one to believe that it is a horror movie of sorts. The reality is that it is in fact a rather deep and surprisingly original story. The story behind Cell 213 is by itself more than enough reason for audiences to watch it at least once. Veteran actor Michael Rooker’s (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder, Cliffhanger) acting as the vile prison guard Ray Clement is another positive to the movie. While the movie centers on Michael Grey (Eric Balfour), Rooker is the real star of this story. And last but not least of all worth noting here is the movie’s run time versus its pacing. At a time when it seems like Hollywood’s major studios are continuing to battle one another to see who can cram the most material into their movies within a given time span (more often than not that time span is about 2 1/2 hours or a little more), this roughly hour and forty-nine minute movie does plenty without even reaching the two-hour mark. Each of these aspects by themselves play their own important role in the overall success of this interesting indie thriller. Collectively, they make Cell 213 worth at least one watch and prove once more why indie movies are just as worth the watch as all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes being currently churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5” if not more so.
At first glance, eOne and Alliance Films’ recently released thriller Cell 213 looks like another run-of-the-mill horror flick. But as the old adage states, never judge a book (or in this case a DVD) by its cover. The movie is in fact far more than just another one of the overly gory and violence laden flicks that Hollywood’s “Power 5” call a horror. Rather, it proves to be more a thriller than a horror. What’s more, it’s not just another thriller, either. The movie’s script, which was crafted by Maninda Chana, combines traditional thriller elements with some rather deep theological discussions for a movie that will ultimately leave open-minded audiences really thinking. As audiences learn, young up-and-coming lawyer Michael Grey himself ends up in jail after one of his clients kills himself, essentially framing Michael for his murder. It is at this point that the movie’s biggest plot hole emerges. The plot hole is big enough to drive a handful of semis through it. Thankfully though, the theological discussions that make up the remainder of the movie more than make up for that glaring issue. The discussions in question center on the battle between good and evil and on making the right choices in life before we die. A close look at the story reveals these discussions and really makes the movie a lot more interesting than one might have originally thought at first glance. The end result is a script that makes this indie thriller worth at least one watch.
The theologically based story behind Cell 213 is a big surprise. By itself, the discussion raised on judgment of one’s soul, etc. is more than reason enough for audiences to check out this movie. Another reason that Cell 213 is worth at least one watch is the acting on the part of Michael Rooker. Rooker is most well-known for his work on the NASCAR-based drama Days of Thunder. He has also worked on Marvel Studios’ latest hit blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, too. So this movie is obviously not the first time that he has played the role of a villain. And he shows his experience as a villain quite well. Between showing no mercy to the inmates at the prison to putting a chokehold on another officer (a female no less) to showing something of a troubling, almost Norman Bates sort of personality at another point, Rooker makes Ray Clement an absolutely disturbed character that will disturb audiences and make them love to hate him at the same time. If for no other reason, audiences should watch this movie at least once to see just how diabolical and disturbed Rooker makes Clement. That portrayal together with the movie’s deep, theological themes, makes for even more reason for audiences to give it at least one watch.
The theological themes that make up most of Cell 213’s story and the work of veteran actor Michael Rooker are both key to making this movie worth at least one watch. That still leaves one more aspect worth noting—the movie’s run time. Anyone that has been to the theater in the past couple years or so has noticed that Hollywood’s major studios have been seemingly caught up in a competition to see who can shove the most amount of material into a roughly two and a half-hour movie without making it too mediocre. The problem is that movies like The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and even the recent Spiderman and Superman movies have been mostly mediocre. That’s because the people behind the cameras and the scripts have in fact crammed so much into each one of those movies that they have overpowered audiences. That’s hardly the case with Cell 213. The movie clocks in at just under the two-hour mark. Within the confines of that roughly hour and forty-nine minutes, writer Maninder Chana and director Stephen Kay waste no time ruminating on personal drama or any such related topics. The entire time is well-spent, focusing on the battle being waged for Michael’s soul and how he was essentially being tested, thus tying back in to the story’s theological themes. What’s more, at no point do those themes ever get so deep as to lose audiences. Viewers are kept engaged from start to finish thanks to that well-balanced mix of the movie’s run time and its overall content. That, coupled with Michael Rooker’s acting and the themes incorporated into the story, makes this movie complete. They collectively make Cell 213 a story well worth at least one watch whether one is a fan of the horror genre or has any interest in Christian theology. It all makes for a movie that is actually quite surprisingly interesting.
Cell 213 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Cell-213-Michael-Rooker/dp/B00K2OBSI2/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1416580052&sr=1-2&keywords=cell+213. More information on this and other titles from Alliance and eOne is available online at:
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