Posts Tagged ‘the box

09
Dec
09

Movie Review: The Box

WTF?

Starring James Marsden, Cameron Diaz, and Frank Langella. Directed by Richard Kelly. Based on the short story, “Button, Button,” by Richard Matheson.

Instead of a straight-forward review of the film, I have chosen to write an open-letter:

Mr. Kelly

I’m a freelance blogger and movie reviewer. In my articles (or posts) I usually give a rundown of the film, likes/dislikes, and why they should (or should not) go to see the movie I reviewed. Two days ago I watched your latest film, “The Box,” and found myself with the problem of not being able to logically break down the film and make it sound worthy of theatrical attendance. For my review of “The Box” I am posting this open letter to you and I have to ask:

Dude, what were you thinking?

Before I go too much further let me offer my thoughts. You’re an interesting director and let no one say that you’re not original. I liked “Donnie Darko.” I wasn’t smitten with the concept but I liked how you wove time-travel and destiny into a thought-provoking storyline. “Southland Tales” spoke to me because of its spiritual-based undertones and the segment where Justin Timberlake lip-synced to The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.” While it was a mess of a movie, I really did like it. I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when it came to “The Box.”

I had good expectations for the movie. First off, I’ve read Matheson’s “Button, Button.” It’s definitely a dark short story as well as an interesting premise: what if you were given a box with a button on it that, when pressed, you were awarded a cash amount and someone that you don’t know dies. In the original story the husband died because his wife, who pressed the button, didn’t know him. Dark comedy; gotta love it. Somehow you wanted to take that dark comedy and twist it so that it wasn’t funny, amusing, ironic, or even at a base level, entertaining. What we, the moviegoer, experience is the “haunted object” sub-genre where evil continues to perpetuate ad nauseum because the entirety of humanity is vain, shallow, and greedy. Maybe this wouldn’t have been so bad if there was as long a discussion about the moral principle of the box in the movie as there was in the original short story. Then again I’ve seen this movie formula in such fare as Joe Carnahan’s “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane,” about a car that brings death to every owner it has, and even further back to the “Twilight Zone” episode, “From Agnes With Love,” about a computer that begins to have feelings for whatever scientist works on it, driving them to the edge. No offence, the formula probably goes back further than that.

There are so many problems with this movie that film school students could spend years dissecting it and still not figure out where it went wrong. Here are a few questions that I have:

– What was the motivation behind the alien inhabiting Mr. Steward? He gives the couple $1 million and we see it’s because of greed yet, when a wife is chosen over a son/daughter, he makes a statement about the $1 million being put into a bank account that the child cannot touch until he/she turns 18. Why would that matter? If he really wanted to see greed destroy someone wouldn’t he just give the kid the $1 million?
– Why have the three portals (one to salvation, two to damnation) if they’re not going to make any real difference in what happens in the end?
– Why the crème-colored lens? I know the idea was to make it look like 1976, but not all films shot in the Seventies used it; just a lot of the bad ones e.g., “Burnt Offerings.”
– How was the alien able to control everyone? I know that the idea probably sounded good on paper and in a Seventies/Eighties sci-fi/horror sense it may seem a good idea, but no, it didn’t work. It just made me feel like I was in a bad M. Night movie.
– What was the deal with the creepy student/waiter Charles?
– Who exactly is supposed to be the audience for this movie, outside your family and friends?

These are just a few of the questions off the top of my head. I know that you’re a capable filmmaker who has an interesting take on sci-fi, but this is too away-from-base for me. I had hoped that you were taking a good Matheson short story and crafting a great movie, not taking a better story and cinematically destroying it. I will give you credit for the ability to create suspense in a few scenes, and a little wonderment at the possibilities I saw, but for the most part as a movie watcher I was disappointed and let-down. I’m not asking for my $9 back but I do hope that you’ve read this.

My grade for your movie, sir: D+

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30
Oct
09

November Movie Releases

“The Box” – James Marsden and Cameron Diaz are a couple with a kid living in dire circumstances when a mysterious stranger gives them a box that has a button on it. Pressing the button will reward them with $1 million however, it will also kill someone else in the world they do not know. Based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button.” Decide if you will press it on November 6, 2009

“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Jim Carrey voices Ebeneezer Scrooge in this CG take on the Dickens classic. Also stars the voices of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Tom Hanks, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Fourth Kind” – Milla Jovovich in a thriller based on the real-life story of a town in Alaska where people have been disappearing and where they fear there’s a government coverup. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” – Ewan McGregor stars as a down-on-his-luck reporter who gets the inside scoop on a secret psychic military unit. Also stars George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Based on the 2004 book of the same name. Opens November 6, 2009

“Precious” – Based on the “Push” novel about a black girl who grows up being abused by her mother, raped by her father, and ends up poor, angry, illiterate, unloved, and unnoticed. Opens November 6, 2009

“2012” – It’s not the year 2525, but it’s just as disastrous… Roland Emmerich is behind this apocalyptic movie staring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt. Opens November 13, 2009

“Pirate Radio” – Set in the 60’s. A group of DJ’s give a new meaning to “the boat that rocked” by broadcasting rock music from a boat in the North Seas while most of the broadcasters in England are still clinging to jazz. Stars Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gemma Arterton, Emma Thompson, and David Frost. Opens November 13, 2009

“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” – Remake/reboot of Harvey Keitel movie finds Nic Cage in the title role as a no-holds-barred cop as crooked as the crooks he takes down. This time it’s set in New Orleans. Opens November 20, 2009

“The Blind Side” – A young, African-American teenager from a broken home is taken in by a well-to-do white family. He must rise up against new challenges in his life and the family finds out more about themselves as well. Stars Sandra Bullock. Opens November 20, 2009

“New Moon” – Episode Two of the “Twilight Saga” based on the books. Opens November 20, 2009

“Planet 51” – When an astronaut lands on a planet that fears alien invasion, he has to avoid capture and reclaim his ship to return to Earth. With the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese. Opens November 20, 2009

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” – Based on the Roald Dahl about a sly fox who lives in idyllic life that slips back into his thieving ways. This agitates the farmers and endangers the animal kingdom which must bond together in order to survive. Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Opens November 25, 2009

“Ninja Assassin” – Asian pop star Rain is one of the world’s deadliest assassins, taken from birth and trained in a secret society. When his best friend dies he breaks free, vanishes, and waits to exact his revenge. Opens November 25, 2009

“Old Dogs” – John Travolta and Robin Williams are two business execs on the verge of the Biggest Business Deal of Their Lives and have to take care of 6-year-old twins. Uh, yeah. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Princess and the Frog” – Disney’s re-imagining of “The Princess and the Frog,” taking place this time in Louisiana. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Road” – Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel about a father and son walking the desolate earth of a post-apocalyptic future, armed with a single pistol. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall. Opens November 25, 2009

30
Jun
09

Movie News and Views June 30, 2009 Trailer Edition

“Not Quite Hollywood” – “Oz-ploitation”: the 1970’s and 1980’s era of Australian filmmaking. “Mad Max” wasn’t the only movie to make it across the pond. Showing in limited release (which sucks for anywhere but NY and LA) on July 31, 2009

“Cold Souls” – Paul Giamatti plays himself, a tormented actor who seeks relief through “soul extraction.” Opens in limited release on August 7, 2009

“Shorts” – Robert Rodriguez movie about a small suburban community centered around the Black Box company, which is a be-all end-all do-everything gadget. A mysterious rainbow-colored falls from the sky and has the ability to grant anyone’s wish. Opens August 7, 2009

“A Perfect Getaway” – Milla Jovavich and Steve Zahn are on a honeymoon in Hawaii when they discover they’re being stalked by a pair of killers. Opens August 14, 2009

“Spread” – Guy (Ashton Kutcher) who sleeps around in a life of privilege meets girl (Margarita Levieva) who does the same. Sorta reminds me of Audrey Tautou’s “Priceless.” Opens August 14, 2009

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” – Based on the novel about a man (Eric Bana) who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel when he’s under duress. He tries to have a relationship with a young heiress (Rachek McAdams). Go back (and forward) in time on August 14, 2009

“The World’s Greatest Dad” – Robin Williams is a recently divorced poetry teacher who dreams of being a novelist. And then a whole bunch of bad stuff happens. Opens August 21, 2009

“Final Destination 4” – A guy named Nick O’Bannon goes to the racetrack with his family and friends and receives a premonition about an accident. He saves them and cheats Death, which isn’t the kind of thing Death takes kindly too. The 4th installment of the series opens August 28, 2009

“Whiteout” – Kate Beckinsale is a U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica who must solve a murder case in 3 days or else be stranded with the killer. Based on a series of graphic novels. Opens September 11, 2009

“The Invention of Lying” – Ricky Gervais movie about a world in which everyone tells the truth and his character ‘invents’ lying. Barring any fibbing, the movie opens on September 25, 2009

“Shutter Island” – Scorsese pic about two U.S. Marshals sent to a mysterious island to track down a criminally insane patient. Stars Leo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. Opens October 2, 2009

“Zombieland” – As if we can’t get enough zombie movies, this one has Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as two guys who must escort a band of survivors to safety. Also stars Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. Opens October 9, 2009

“Amelia” – A look at Amelia Earhart, the aviator who disappeared flying over the Pacific in 1937. Stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Virginia Madsen and Ewan McGregor. The film lands on October 23, 2009

“The Box” – James Marsden and Cameron Diaz are a couple with a kid living in dire circumstances when a mysterious stranger gives them a box that has a button on it. Pressing the button will reward them with $1 million however, it will also kill someone else in the world they do not know. Based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button.” Decide if you will press it on October 30, 2009

“Old Dogs” – John Travolta and Robin Williams are two business execs on the verge of the Biggest Business Deal of Their Lives and have to take care of 6-year-old twins. Uh, yeah. Opens November 25, 2009

“Daybreakers” – 2017. A plague has changed most of the human race into vampires, which are threatened with a dwindling blood supply. Meanwhile a researcher (Ethan Hawke) struggles to find a way to save the human race. Opens January 8, 2010

“The Last Airbender” – Based on the Nickelodeon TV series about a successor to a long line of Avatars who must stop the Fire nation from taking Earth, Air and Water. Opens July 2, 2010