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Dragonfly
Reviewed by Jason Myers, ©

Format: Movie
By:   Tom Shadyac (director)
Genre:   Supernatural Drama
Released:   February 22, 2002
Review Date:  
RevSF Rating:   2/10 (What Is This?)

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… blah.

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… okay… 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.


-If RevSF Film/DVD editor Jason Myers died, he would haunt his girlfriend and move things around, just to scare the stuffing out of her.

 
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