Movie Review

DRAGONFLY

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and mild sensuality

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romantic Supernatural Thriller
Length:
_____

Starring: Kevin Costner, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin, Kathryn Erbe, Linda Hunt | Directed by: Tom Shadyac | Produced by: Mark Johnson, Tom Shadyac, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum | Written by: David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson | Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Our life is what we imagine—belief is what gets us to the other side.”

This is one of several chunks of philosophy that “Dragonfly” invites its viewers to swallow. What do you believe about eternity and life after death? What do you believe about people that have “near-death experiences”? Do you believe that our loved ones can communicate to us from the other side? These questions and more are settled soundly in scripture. “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Jesus declared in Luke 16 the biblical reality that there “is between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (verse 26).


Film-related Topics
(from a Biblical perspective)

» Who is the being of light encountered in near-death experiences?

» Does the Bible allow for the possibility of reincarnation?

» What is the Occult?

» Are you good enough to go to Heaven?

» More about life after death

» Is there an actual place called “Hell”?

Letting loved ones go into eternity is difficult. I know that first hand as I lost my grandparents in a tragic car accident, plus my forty-nine year-old father to an accident in the hospital. We hear their voices through many memories and reminders. While we see their images in old photographs and letters, they do not audibly talk to us.

In “Dragonfly”, Kevin Costner takes us on a Psychic trip into the world of reincarnation, consulting spirits, and alternative views of eternity. Our story begins with Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) losing his wife, Emily (Susanna Thompson) in a tragic accident. She was on board a Red Cross bus in Venezuela trying to save lives. The bus plunges into a ravine during a storm. The bodies are never recovered. Dr. Darrow deals with his loss and grief by throwing himself into his work. His friends and co-workers express their concern for his well-being. Our fatigued hero begins to see supernatural revelations of his wife through her favorite insect, the dragonfly. This fondness becomes the vehicle for Emily to try and communicate with her husband. The problem is there are many mixed signals and it appears that our Doctor is beginning to lose touch with reality. Joe’s quest takes him on a perilous journey that could have professional consequences.

The film does deliver some chilling moments. Dean Semler once again delivers some outstanding cinematography. Costner turns in a performance that is much better than his role in “Message in a Bottle” and “3,000 Miles to Graceland” (what a dud!). Universal also did a great job of not spoiling the primary plot points in the movie through the trailer (something to which I personally object). The subject matter is the primary offense that some Christians may find. There is little profanity, sex, and violence. But the PG-13 rating should be observed. (There is some nudity and partial nudity filmed in the tradition of National Geographic). I did like the ending to the film, I just didn’t like the psychic ride to get to the destination.

“Dragonfly” is a better-than-average matinee flic, but one you could wait to rent.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Negative—…a movie like Dragonfly, completely spits in the face of what scripture calls us to do as Christians. We are to have NO communication with the dead. I won’t type the verses but you can reference Leviticus 19:1 and Deuteronomy 18:11-13. God calls such things “detestable”. the average Christian has swallowed so many lies relating to the afterlife, that they could easily come away from this picture with at least a “reasoned” curiosity as to whether communication with the dead is indeed possible. As Christians, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And that those who die in their sins are sent to Hades to await final judgment. Since we are forbidden to talk to spirits, angels, who will not violate God’s commands are clearly not trying to communicate with us today. And in biblical times, communication with angels was only done to bring forth special messages from God until all of his word was revealed.

That leaves only one entity of which to communicate with… Satan and more specifically, his demons… I challenge you and anyone else to list 2 aspects of that film that are based in scripture. I couldn’t find one. However, we have the secular “truths” that good people go to heaven, reincarnation is a distinct possibility, the theme of communicating with the dead is rampant and obtrusively repetitive, the denial of what happens to “spirits” when the pass out of this life, the phrase, WE NEED TO TALK TO SPIRITS TO MAKE PEACE”! Unless I am mistaken, that was spoken by the nun in the movie who was the “Christian” representative. her conversation with Joe takes place in a prayer room with a life-sized statue of Jesus in the background. In this conversation, she speaks in frequent metaphysical verbiage and encourages Joe that tapping into deeper realms of your unconsciousness is the SECRET to communicating with the dead. Joe’s neighbor barks, “nothing is real without evidence.” Hello?! Can you say “modernism”, which denies accepting things on faith—the cornerstone of Christianity. And speaking of faith, we are repeatedly taught that all you need to do is have “faith” in something to get you where you need to go. Not once is there ever any mention of God or trying to communicate with Him…
—Kevin Glenn
Negative—An awful, ridiculous, laughable B-movie. Not worth seeing or even thinking about afterward. Director Shadyc has no idea how to properly explore motifs. ***SPOILER*** The entire movie has Costner’s wife seeming as if she’s trying to drive him mad with unexplainable frustration. But at the end of the movie her motives are suddenly honorable. Then what was the purpose of the flatlined boy? The de-organed man grabbing out towards Costner’s hand in a typical Gothic fashion? The nun with the evil eye? Just cheap thrills, I guess, signed, sealed, and delivered to an audience that cannot contemplate cause-and-effect and don’t care how a situation begins and ends—so long as the middle was OK.
My Ratings: [Average / 1]
—Eric Schmidt
Positive—I went to this movie because, well, basically I had a free ticket and there wasn’t much to see, and not being a Kevin Costner fan, I wasn’t looking too forward to it. To my surprise, it was pretty good. The complaints about reincarnation in the other posts I don’t understand, because, if you follow the movie, she obviously was NOT reincarnated. The ending, as anyone that has seen the movie, is a tear jerker, but is also a positive, hopeful ending.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Sean, age 29
Negative—Dragonfly was one of the most pathetic wastes of $4.50 plus popcorn I’ve seen on the big screen in a long time. The story line was incredibly predictable (though it was touted as being oh-so suspenseful), the writing stunk, the acting was mediocre, and to top it all off, there’s the ridiculously unbiblical concept of the afterlife that permeates the whole thing. (I also must say that Kevin Costner’s character was far too suspicious of the kooky things going on from the very beginning. No normal person would behave the way he did from the start, especially one who says he doesn’t believe in life after death.) Avoid this movie if your time means anything to you.
My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
—Rachael, age 20
Neutral—According to an interview done by a Christian site with Shadyac (the director) it was stated that he is a Christian who wants to make not only good films, but make a difference with the message his movies send. So I decided to go. Mistake. This film’s message was on reincarnation, having dead people crossing over to give messages, and that all you have to be to get into Heaven is a good person. Costner was sitting in a bar with friends when one said “If anyone deserves to go to Heaven, it was Emily, for she was such a good person.” The movie was okay, Costner acted well, but the “message” that Shadyac is sending out is a damning one.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—ESmith, age 42
Positive—Dragonfly was such a good movie. I was surprised at how little offensive material there was as well. There was a brief shot of a tribe woman topless, but it was hardly noticable because she was in the background. The ending was wonderful and made the whole movie make sense. I really liked it…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Bob, age 24
Movie Critics
…1 nearly uttered F-word, 1 scatological term, 5 anatomical terms, 6 mild obscenities, 5 religious exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…children having near death experiences… husband and wife are briefly seen being passionate/sensuous… some tribal women are briefly seen topless…
—ScreenIt!
Comments from young people
Positive—I thought that this movie was excellent. I saw it with 7 other girls and we ALL loved it! It has an emotional ending that is not suspected. All in all this movie, to me, and the other girls I was with (ages 15 and 16) was very good.
My Ratings: [4½]
—Emily B., age 16
Positive—I personally loved this movie… it was sweet, romantic, and caring. it reminded me that the human nature does have a little compassion in it. Costner’s character also made you cry, because he cared so much for his wife that he’d do anything to get her back. and also I loved the ending… amazing! But, Costner truly picked an amazing film… great acting, story, movie making and compassion. go see it if you’re ten or above.
My Ratings: [5]
—Anna, age 10