Dragonfly (2002), Run-time 104mins, Cert 12.

Director - Tom Shadyac.

Writers - Brandon Camp & Mike Thompson.

Starring - Kevin Costner, Susanna Thompson, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin & Kathy Bates.


Premise - Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) is chief of emergency medicine at a Chicago hospital. His wife Emily (Susanna Thompson) is pregnant with their child and on volunteer work with the Red Cross deep in the jungles of Venezuela. When his wife is killed in a bus crash Joe buries himself in his work. However, when his dead wife’s paediatric patients start saying they are communicating with her, Joe starts to question his own beliefs.

Dragonfly wants really badly to be like The 6th Sense or Stir of Echoes, heck I would be willing to bet that it would be happy being compared to Ghost. The stark reality however is that Dragonfly is a bad movie watching experience with little, if anything worthy to offer any potential viewer.

Things don’t start off good. After the exposition heavy title sequence we segue in to the first half hour, which consists mainly of Costner wandering around in a daze, feeling sorry for himself and talking to sick kids. I understand that the man had just lost his wife, but Costner plays it way too low key. I was in serious danger of falling asleep at this point; it was boring, tedious and not at all interesting.

We are introduced to the various support players in this first half hour. Joe Morton plays a cardboard cut-out hospital manager, think Anne Heche’s heartless bitch from John Q and you aren’t far away. Ron Rifkin of Alias fame plays Joe’s good friend and actually has nothing to offer the narrative of the film at all, a total waste. Kathy Bates is probably the highlight of the film acting wise. She plays Joe’s lesbian neighbour (we are never told she is a lesbian, but it’s fairly obvious) whom has also lost someone close recently. Bates lights up any movie she is in and if any movie needed lighting up it was this one.

So, the movie moves on and things do start to pick up in the second third. Joe starts to investigate the reports he is getting from the kids. He talks to a nun whom has investigated the subject of near death experiences and he looks up the weird symbols that the kids keep drawing. I found this section the most interesting as Joe starts to see these symbols everywhere. The film doesn’t give us any definite answers and plays it so that Joe could well be seeing these things, but he could also be going round the bend.

I would have been happy if the film had stuck with this direction, leading to an ambiguous ending that let the viewer work things out for themselves depending on what their interpretation of the movie was and what their beliefs were. But that would have been too good. Oh no, the film has far grander plans…….

It should be noted that it was about this time that I thought to myself what would be the worst possible ending that the film could come away with? As it turns out my worst fears were realised……..

Joe finally cracks the symbol mystery through what can only be described as blind luck. He then hops onto a plane headed for Venezuela, looking for closure. What he finds are major spoilers (if you care), avoid the next sentence unless you want this wonderful movie spoiled for you –

His wife survived the crash long enough to give birth to their daughter who is now being raised by a local tribe.

I told you it was bad……..

The films concept had some promise, but the writers were seemingly intent on squeezing in a stupid twist ending that just wasn’t needed. You also have to think that Tom Shadyac was a poor choice for this film as well. He is best known as Jim Carrey’s number one director with films like Ace Ventura, Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. He also made The Nutty Professor and the absolutely dire Patch Adams. It’s safe to say that he wouldn’t be my first choice to direct a supernatural thriller. His ham fisted style is especially evident when in the films one potentially creepy scene he opts for a cheap jump moment straight out of a nasty straight to video slasher flick.

I like Kevin Costner; he has been in many wonderful movies over the years. JFK, Dances with Wolves, Bull Durham, Robin Hood, A Perfect World, hell I even liked Waterworld. But, of late he has been stumbling form one stinker to another (Thirteen Days aside); this movie is another nail in his career coffin.

Aside form a vaguely enjoyable middle section and the always watchable Kathy Bates there is absolutely nothing to recommend here. Sure, check it out for morbid curiosity, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Poster Quote – Quick, get the swatter.

See Dragonfly if you enjoyed – The 6th Sense, Stir of Echoes, Ghost.