2002 - PG-13 - 104 Mins.
|Director: Tom Shadyac
|Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum
|Written By: David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson
|Starring: Kevin Costner, Joe Morton, Kathy Bates, Jacob Smith, Jay Thomas
|Review by: Joe Rickey
'Dragonfly' is an average supernatural thriller at best. Kevin Costner plays a doctor, grieving over the death of his wife whose body was never recovered after a bus accident in Venezuela. Not soon after, Kevin’s character starts experiencing weird occurrences such as when his usually calm bird starts flapping crazily around the kitchen, knocking various items onto the ground. Our doctor soon realizes that he must find out what really happened to his wife. He must find out if he’s going crazy or if his dead wife is truly trying to get his attention.
The idea of someone communicating from beyond the grave is a very commercially viable premise that almost guarantees a film with a solid showing at the box office. All one has to do is look at the monster success of 'The Sixth Sense' to know that these supernatural plots with the surprise denouement can do well. In fact, one could draw another parallel between 'Dragonfly' and 'The Sixth Sense' in that actors Bruce Willis and Kevin Costner are both at a crossroads in their career. Willis hasn’t had a big hit in a while and Costner’s only success to speak of was 'Open Range'. Before that western, he had been in a slump that seemed like it was never going to end. It also doesn't hurt that the acting in 'Dragonfly' is well done. Kevin Costner really does act like someone grieving over a lost loved one. Kathy Bates, as Costner's neighbor, does a nice job with her role as a person who also lost a loved one recently. Overall, the acting is quite solid and efficient.
The direction by Tom Shadyac ('Patch Adams') is only average at best. He does a good job with the scenes involving grieving but falls short when it comes to upping the tension when the film tries to frighten the viewer. A script that occasionally lays the syrup on a little thick doesn't help. Like 'Patch Adams', this film becomes a little too sappy for my liking at times.
Regarding the film's surprise plot twist at the end - all that I’ll say is that it isn’t as surprising as it should have been because of a clue provided earlier. Filmmakers someday must learn that while it is okay and sometimes rather clever to foreshadow an event before it occurs, it is not okay to basically directly show what is supposed to the surprise ending. I’ll never understand for the life of me why some films start at the end; showing the main character is alive and well when the suspense of the film is whether they are going to live or die in the first place.
Overall, 'Dragonfly' is at best an average thriller with good acting by a veteran cast and some thrills but too much sappiness at times.