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Nobody’s getting much rest as “The Cell” opens. Hard-driving child psychologist Jennifer Lopez (you can laugh; it’s OK) is being told that she’s “exhausted.” Meanwhile, hard-bitten FBI agent Vince Vaughn “needs some sleep.” But they’ve got it easy. They sleep through the rest of the film. And after this grotesque two-hour computer-enhanced torturefest is completed, you’ll be the one in need of a nap. Or a stiff drink. Or both. “The Cell” holds lofty aspirations. That’s clear from the get-go. It wants to be “The Silence of the Lambs” meets “The Matrix.” It wants to be a psychological thriller and an SFX movie. It wants to look like a Volkswagen commercial while rockin’ your world. It isn’t, and it doesn’t. Instead, this is a movie in which, once FBI agent Peter Novak (Vaughn) is told that the serial killer he’s hunting owns “an albino dog” (honest), he sets his mouth, looks into space, and says, grimly, “He’d love an animal like that.” That’s one sign the audience is headed for trouble. Another one is that we get an early scene of dedicated professional Catherine Deane (Lopez) sitting around her house in her underwear and feeding her cat. And then taking off her shirt to change into her “synaptic transfer” bodysuit, cut perfectly to match her substantial curves. (Disclosure Statement: The Judge is not made of wood. He has no gripe with Jenny Lopez doing any of these things. But we’re talking about the integrity of a film here.) The far-fetched premise is this: Lopez is part of a team of scientists who have figured out how to place themselves in the brain of someone else. Psychologist Lopez, for example, is trying to revive a young boy out of a schizophrenic coma (whatever that is) as the movie begins. At the same time, serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio), albino dog in tow, is brutally killing women and turning them into dolls. FBI Agent Vaughn (remember him from “Swingers” and a bunch of movies afterward that nobody saw?) is hot on his trail. D’Onofrio kidnaps another female victim and locks her in a glass booth in the middle of farm country where she will slowly drown. Back at home and taking a hot soak in the tub, he goes into a “schizophrenic coma” just as the FBI is pulling an Elian on his house. Lopez must enter D’Onofrio’s warped mind to find out where the victim is being hidden, and that’s when the fun starts. Lopez discovers a twisted universe, filled with sadomasochistic imagery, where muscle-bound women roam hallways packed with female corpses and where animals are Cuisinarted alive. In doing so, she spends most of the time in costumes that look like a cross between “My Concubine” and Princess Ardala from the “Buck Rogers” TV series. None of it makes much sense — especially when Vaughn ends up joining Lopez in D’Onofrio’s mind while clad in form-fitting ’70s retro fashions. At this point, the Judge could almost hear his mother saying “So, this, this is what you wear to someone’s brain?” But the Judge wouldn’t want his mother to see “The Cell.” This isn’t a film for the meek and mild. It’s angry, anxious stuff — so much so that you begin to wonder if the director, Tarsem Singh, might get a bit of a charge himself out of slow torture. What happens to Vaughn is particularly gruesome. Tarsem (an anagram for “Master,” BTW), as he likes to call himself, comes from the commercial and rock video world. He directed R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” video. And to his credit, the film looks splendid. It opens with a shot of Lopez riding a horse, a lone figure in the expanse that is Saharan Africa. The image is so distilled, and so provocative, that your hopes that the movie will prove exceptional are momentarily buoyed. But then two disturbing things occur: the plot descends into pure silliness, and Lopez opens her mouth. As sexy and smoldering as she was as a feisty federal marshal in Steven Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight,” her previous film, she is ridiculous here. Her little-girl voice and smiley-face demeanor undercut the tension of the entire story. And, without giving the ending away, it might be enough to say that Jennifer isn’t, and will never be, anyone’s version of the Virgin Mary. Just ask Puff Daddy. And Vaughn, the epitome of geek cool in “Swingers,” is a waste. His attempt to play his lawman character with an Eastwoodian inscrutability only makes him appear catatonic. A script that saddles him with the lamest and most expositional backstory since Al Pacino ranted about the Importance of Being Satan for 15 minutes in “The Devil’s Advocate” doesn’t help. It really sounds something like this: LOPEZ: So have you always been a FBI agent? VAUGHN: No. See, I was a prosecutor, and one day, this serial killer got off on a technicality. Then he sliced his next victim right down the middle in front of her parents. I vowed that day to dedicate my life to catching these bastards. LOPEZ: That’s awful! VAUGHN: It’s a dirty world. This kind of bang-me-on -the-head-so -I-don’t- miss-something dialogue can be found in screenplay slushpiles at every Los Angeles production company. But here, the producers and the director figured that if the movie were dressed up enough with FX, nobody would care if the actors sounded like John Wayne playing Genghis Khan. And that’s wrong. The power of a single image in cinema is undeniable. But when a movie seems to be nothing more than a montage of pretty pictures, it has gone off the track. What separates good films from the rest is when the images carry meaning, build drama, or add to the narrative. Instead, here, we get a packet of Postcards From the Edge with nothing written on the reverse. In contrast, the Judge last week watched “8-1/2,” the classic from Federico Fellini. (The Judge realizes that mentioning Fellini in the same review as “The Cell” and Jennifer Lopez risks prompting thunderbolts, hurled by the Movie Gods.) Like “The Cell,” Fellini’s revolutionary film was also propelled by the use of abstract imagery. It, too, delved into the mind of a character — in this instance, the memories of the protagonist, a famous film director. And while the images in Fellini’s film, by 1963 standards, were just as challenging as those in the digitally enhanced “The Cell,” there was something else present: a soul. Fellini’s film contributed to our knowledge of the human condition, helped us understand the folly of ego. “The Cell,” with its fetishistic sadism, simply gives us a grand tour of human depravity, showing us, yet again, the horrible things people are capable of doing to one another. If the Judge wants that, he’ll watch “Survivor.” Judge Dread presides over the toughest court of all: the Court of Public Opinion. His attempt to computer-enhance much of his own life has met with little success.

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