Dorian's Movie Reviews

Is it worth seeing? Reviews are presented with no cynicism, no comparisons, no biased standards, no pretentiousness - every movie is reviewed on its individual entertainment value including technical presentation.  
Scale 1 - 5
2002, Spyglass Entertainment
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Screenplay by David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, and Mike Thompson
From a story by Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson

Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) loses his wife to an accident in a remote part of Venezuela. Possibly swept away by a storm engorged river, the body of Emily Darrow (Susanna Thompson), is never found. Emily was a grief counselor who worked with dying children. Stoic, without hope, Darrow throws himself into his work. But he must honor his wife's request: that he see to her dying children in the hospital.

Darrow begins to see dragonflies, a symbol that he associates with Emily. He soon sees them everywhere. And then he begins to see another symbol that is similar to a dragonfly, in drawings that Emily's children create... after near death experiences. They have a message for Darrow. But what?

Obsessed with trying to understand this new symbol, and with the quest to communicate with his wife, Darrow endangers his career by badgering patients and others. Finally, on realizing what the symbol refers to, he travels to Venezuela to search.

This story combines elements of mystery, horror, action, and suspense to tell a good tale. While pondering the mystery of the symbols, Darrow also ponders the mystery of life and what is beyond... but not much, but at least he does regain some hope. This is a good story, although it offers a lot of paths that aren't followed to the end, and those paths sometimes fit together like mismatched socks. There is a surprise at the end.

This movie has a lot going for it. The settings are excellent, and the Venezuela settings are exotic and exciting, including the shots of native villages and people. The characters are drawn to be a bit too convenient - none of them felt quite real to me. The story line is well plotted.

The cinematography, film editing, and music work seamlessly in this movie, telling the story cinematically without a flaw. The production of the dramatic plunges into the water, the rapids, the drowning, and rescue were very well captured. Other work told the story well, from the hospital, to the haunting scenes, to the drowning.

The cast does an excellent job as well. Costner portrays a very pragmatic physician who, when the joy of his life is taken in death, seems to resolve never to smile again and simply work himself to death. The anxiety to get his wife back and his restraint are clearly shown in conflict on Darrow's face as he interviews children who seem to have a message for him, but can't quite say it. The hospital administrator, played by Hugh Campbell, is a tough, almost villainous character. Kathy Bates delivers in a nicely written part, as Dr. Darrow's friend.

I give this one four spotlights out of a possible five, just a little weak on the writing, but well done in acting, directing, production design, casting, editing, music, costume design, and cinematography. It is rated PG-13. Enjoy!

- Dorian


  • 5 Spotlights: The best of movie making, well worth seeing
  • 4 Spotlights: Good movie for the genre; may have minor technical or story problems but they hardly harm the enjoyment; clearly worth seeing; (most movies)
  • 3 Spotlights: Not bad, but has problems - worth seeing
  • 2 Spotlights: Caution - a "B" movie, probably will appeal only to some
  • 1 Spotlight: Caution - not recommended for any audience (will probably never be given)

Note: No half spotlights are given.

My reviews are not based much on my personal taste, or any standard besides entertainment value. I try to be as objective as possible, keeping in mind that entertainment value is very subjective and individualized. If I'm not interested in a movie I usually don't go see it, so it doesn't get reviewed. Each character, and each position in the production company might be highlighted if the contribution affected the enjoyment of the story as either outstanding or dismal and I noticed it, keeping in mind that many contributions are singularly distinguished by their seamless integration with the story, not calling attention to themselves and thereby escaping attention.

- Dorian Scott Cole

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