Cell Blu-ray Review
The irony being you'd happily play on your phone whilst watching it
Movies reviewSRP: £9.99
Sam Jackson helps John Cusack pay the rent shooting phone-zombies in this low-budget effort that barely retains any hint of source author Stephen King's horror genius.Sitting squarely in the straight-to-video category, Cell tries desperately to escape through those three key elements - King, Jackson and Cusack - but merely proves another example of a failed King adaptation which in all likelihood bares little resemblance to the original source novel, and remains another paycheck job for both Jackson and Cusack. The fleetingly inventive premise - of cell phones suddenly transmitting a signal that infects anybody using a phone - is barely developed at all across the entire duration, which skips across sporadic encounters with the 'zombie' hordes and fails to really address what the hell is going on until it's far too late.Rather than learn from its most obvious inspiration - Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Cell instead chooses to largely avoid celebrating the most menacing element it has going for it: the hive/horde 'call', and instead just goes for zombie-style encounters. In its few more inventive moments, it displays hints of what could have been, but other than these, the woefully underplayed graphic novel subtext, and the dark twist ending, there's very little of Stephen King's original source material on offer here. It's mostly just Jackson and Cusack trying to stay alive in Hollywood by continuing to make bad low-budget movies in their spare time. They should know better.
Picture QualityCell hits Region B-locked UK Blu-ray with a solid enough 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Despite its more than apparent budgetary restrictions, Cell manages to somehow remain a fairly good-looking production in HD.
Despite its budgetary restrictions, Cell manages to remain good-looking in HD
Detail levels are far from perfect, with Cusack in particular getting some softer focus around the edges, but there's plenty of skin texture observation and background tweaks that the video picks up on, with the cold and unforgiving woodland environment retaining a majesty despite its inherent bleakness. Black levels do struggle at full tilt - particularly when some of the more dodgy effects come into play - but they're good enough not to distract too much from the rest of the proceedings, and overall it's a solid, even admirable job considering the no-budget film it's presenting.
Sound QualityThe film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also passes muster, providing a welcome accompaniment to the limited scale offerings, and crafting a decent enough atmosphere, particularly in a couple of the more effective 'hive' moments.
The audio track provides a welcome accompaniment to the limited scale offering
Dialogue is keenly prioritised across the frontal array, whilst effects - inherently restricted - spark to life particularly during the scenes which involve firearms, and during the one or two key 'hive' moments where the track does much of the heavy lifting in conveying the scale of the threat. The score is suitably creeping, and also bears quite a burden where the film itself cannot, and the track remains one of the disc's highlights.
ExtrasDropping the Director's Audio Commentary from the US release all we get is a fluffy 12 minute behind the scenes piece into the production.
Blu-ray VerdictA solid Blu-ray release but Jackson and Cusack should know better
Despite having surprisingly good video and audio - sure, it's far from reference, but it's also far better than the film deserves - Cell isn't really up to much at all, and is the kind of thing that - at best - warrants catching up with on Netflix when you've run out of better movies to watch.
You can buy Cell on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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