There are movies that are bad because of their flamboyant godawful laughable
excesses (Batman & Robin, Battlefield Earth), and then there
are movies that are bad because of their tremendous inoffensive blandness. Dragonfly
is the latter.
Here's a cardinal rule of movies: A poor sci-fi or horror movie is always better
than a poor drama or romance. That's because a bad genre movie can be highly
entertaining, but a bad drama is just plain uninteresting.
Kevin Costner's wife is dead (no, not his real wife; his movie wife, who was
a doctor). But he's never seen the body. Which is giving him some serious closure
issues. And he starts to think that his wife is trying to communicate with him
from beyond the grave. Her favorite animal was the dragonfly, and now he's seeing
dragonflies all over the place. Things go bump in the night. Kids in the hospital
keep drawing pictures of what look like (in one of the film's funny lines) crucifixes
made of Jello. And one of the kids wakes from a coma to tell him that his wife
wants him to meet her "in the rainbow." Spooooooky.
To be fair, Dragonfly isn't trying to be particularly scary. It's as
much about how people deal with death as it is about supernatural goings-on.
It's a vaguely comforting and uplifting tale. The type of vaguely comforting
and uplifting tale that you'd normally expect to appear in a Lifetime original
movie or a CBS Weeper-of-the-Week. Instead of cute kids with cancer, we've got
cute kids with cancer who see dead people. Instead of Michael Gross, we've got
Kevin Costner. Instead of Sally Struthers, we've got Oscar-winner Kathy Bates.
And instead of watching the thing for free, we have to pony up eight bucks.
People who have dealt with the pain of losing the love of their life might
actually find Dragonfly to be touching and cathartic. Or they might find
it to be hollow and simplistic.
For the record, I don't categorically dismiss uplifting or sentimental movies.
I recall actually liking the critically-panned Patch Adams (both Dragonfly
and Patch Adams were directed by Tom Shadyac). And I don't have any
disdain for Kevin Costner. I liked The Untouchables and Robin Hood:
Prince of Thieves. Heck, I liked Field of Dreams, which was both
an uplifting movie and a Kevin Costner movie.
In Dragonfly, Costner gives a passable, if drab, performance. So does
Kathy Bates. The child actors did a good job. The dialog wasn't that bad. The
art design was interesting. Lots of blues. There were one or two good scares.
There's a parrot named Big Bird. I like parrots. I mean, who doesn't like parrots,
really? But I digress.
The point is
SPOILERS, SPOILERS, YADA, YADA, YADA. Here's a question for you. If his wife
can muster up enough psychic energy to repeatedly draw the map symbol for "waterfall"
in the dust on window glass, why doesn't she just write the name of the place
she wants him to go on the window? And it's awfully convenient that he nearly
drowns, thereby allowing his wife to communicate the last clue that leads him
to his final destination. Lastly, the ending, for me anyway, was highly predictable.
As supernatural thrillers go, the ending is pretty original, but as soon as
Kevin started on his National Geographic journey, the rest was all too
easy to figure out.
Regular readers of my reviews (and I know that there are at least three of
them: Shane and Alex and
maybe there are only two) may notice
that I have given Dragonfly a lower rating than movies I've savaged more
thoroughly (Tomb Raider and Soul Survivors, for example). That's
because my rating in some way reflects my willingness to watch a movie over
again. As chintzy as Tomb Raider was, at least there were some fun bits.
But I can't imagine why anyone would feel the need to watch Dragonfly
a second time.