By Josh Albrecht

You have got to feel sorry for Kevin Costner.

Even if you don’t like Costner, you understand that he was once a highly respected actor. Movies like “Dances with Wolves,” “Field of Dreams” and “Robin Hood” solidified his career. Unfortunately, movies like “Dragonfly” (Universal, PG-13) eat away at his career just like the death of his wife in the movie eats away at his mental health.

In “Dragonfly,” Costner plays Joe Darrow, an emergency room doctor whose wife Emily (Susanna Thompson) died in a rockslide while helping the Red Cross in Venezuela.

Six months later, Joe begins to lose control as his wife’s body still has not been found, and he begins to see reminders of Emily, especially images of dragonflies, which were her personal sign because of a birthmark on her back.

And thus begins the good part of the movie as Joe battles his own beliefs of our lives being all that there is, and the idea that there may be something waiting for us after death.

The movie quickly becomes a thriller that actually thrills when Joe begins seeing and hearing Emily and strange things start to happen at the hospital as he visits the children’s oncology ward where Emily worked. There he speaks with two kids who claim to have seen Emily when they were unconscious and begin drawing pictures of what Joe says looks like a jello crucifix.

But the drawings are obviously dragonflies and no one ever realizes this.

In fact, everything about this movie is blatantly obvious. The images of dragonflies are beaten into the viewer, along with his neighbor Mrs. Belmont’s (Kathy Bates) incessant urging for him to go whitewater rafting. Hmm, could these things have significance to the plot?

And then there’s his wife’s pet parrot, which only talks to Emily and always greets her when she comes home by squawking, “Honey, I’m home,” which Costner does a great impression of.

This is when one realizes that the writer and director are completely giving away the movie. There is no subtleness to their approach and both Costner and Bates look to be in pain each time they are asked to give away yet another plot point.

But the thriller that’s been set up crumbles for two main reasons. First, it’s hard to understand why his wife, who loved him dearly, would be trying to scare him. Second, the thriller completely stops thrilling and becomes some sort of romantic quest for Joe to find closure to his wife’s death.

The best part of the movie comes when Joe is talking to Mrs. Belmont about his decision to move away. When Mrs. Belmont tells Joe that she’ll miss him, Joe says he “will miss her waffles” and then pats his belly.