ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  tom shadyac

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  103 minutes

RELEASED  -  22 february 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  dragonfly

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $60,000,000
dragonfly - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from dragonfly at

buy the dvd from dragonfly at

about a man who believes that his deceased wife is trying to communicate with him through the near-death experiences of her patients.

the character joe darrow was written with the intention of harrison ford taking the part. ford turned down the role to take a year off from movies.


picture from dragonfly

picture from dragonfly

picture from dragonfly


two out of four possible stars

It's definitely no Ghost and there's not much originality in the picture, but the actors do their best to bolster a lackluster script. Perhaps it was a case of a story that looked better when read on a page, or an idea that when fleshed out wasn't brought to it's full potential. Given the structure of the writing team for this film (there were two people with the "idea" and a third who was probably brought in as a re-writer), this film seems plagued from the start. Plagued meaning that in considering the final product, the filmmakers relied more on cinematic tricks and musical cues to create a sense of unease for the characters, than on the actors' abilities.

The film runs barely an hour and a half, just long enough to be considered a feature film (by hollywood standards). Given that this isn't a comedy, most comedies hover around ninety minutes, the big events in this film don't pack a lot of punch. Sure, these turning points come exactly when they were supposed to, but as a punch in the stomach for the audience (like they're supposed to be), they don't pack a lot of "oomph." It's probably appropriate to say that this film dances past its story without ever pausing to create some real tension between the characters

In point of fact, it should be noted that Kevin Costner gives a performance that's better than the film deserves. The emotion he's able to show through his character, and the convincing job he does, merits a better script and story. Costner is highly capable actor, and when given the right story, he can really capture the audience's attention. His recent success in Thirteen Days is hard evidence that he can still deliver a good performance. But in Dragonfly, Costner and the other supporting actors are, for all intents and purposes, cheated out of a good film. Mediocrity reigns in Dragonfly and the actors have to overcompensate for the lack of creativity in the script.

It's not a stretch to say that this film, if it had any real originality in it before production started, was dumped in favor of pleasing a wide audience. For fans of spooky, supernatural thrillers, this film isn't really thrilling. And the people sitting in the theater who aren't attracted to the story because of its genre, but are there for reasons such as acting and story, will be disappointed as well because of the "light" approach to each element. This film never goes deep enough into story or character to create a suitable amount of dread or fright for its audience.

In considering the supporting cast for this film, Brian Davis gives a stand-out performance as a child in the children's oncology ward who goes through a near-death experience. Davis is able really work some cheesy dialogue to its full potential and it's possible to forget how lame some of the words are in this film. There is a preponderance of repeated phrases in this film that smack of movie-of-the-week dramatics. More than once, a character says some ominous sentence and then repeats it for dramatic effect. Like "i don't know what to do . . . i just don't know." Each sentence, and really, each word, is so important in a feature film that repeating words and sentences for dramatic effect is nothing if not a waste of screen time. Having a character say the same thing more than once serves only to take away from when the story could be advancing emotionally for the characters.

Another good addition to the cast (loopy dialogue aside) is Kathy Bates, who plays the local lesbian next door. What's intriguing about Kathy's character is that while it's made known to the audience that her character is gay, it's not the defining characteristic in her performance. It's not the whole reason for her existence in the film and it's an easily acceptable attribute for her character to have.

Just a last word on some of the peculiarities of this script, this concerns the state of Kevin Costner's wife in the film. Played by Susanna Thompson, Kevin's wife is pregnant in the film when she goes down to some South American hotspot to work with the Red Cross. During the film the audience learns that before her death she had a very strong work ethic and that children or no, she would travel to wherever her abilities as a doctor were needed. But the fact that this woman travels to a politically unstable country while pregnant doesn't show bravery, it shows stupidity. In a flashback argument in the film, Kevin remembers that his wife was yelling at him about their "values" and how she couldn't believe that Kevin didn't want her to go traipsing around the earth while six months pregnant. This aspect of the film not only succeeds in making Kevin's wife less sympathetic, but also makes for a weak area in the script.

So in the end, this film takes a capable cast and really wastes their talent on a script and story that doesn't pack any sort of punch and whose dialogue seems to have been written by a group of screenwriters who seemed more concerned in creating unimportant dialogue. It's a pity that the director didn't have a top notch story to work with, because the performances by the cast ain't half bad. The end product here just can't measure up. Dragonfly is just another example of Hollywood mediocrity creating a bland movie with the widest possible demographic for its audience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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