Mostly, pushes all the right buttons...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 09/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I expected absolutely nothing from this movie. The trailer looked ridiculous, the plot seemed nonsensical and the reviews were all pretty nasty. Overall, I had planned on skipping this movie altogether. I recently found myself in a Cameron Diaz kind of mood and decided to revisit some of her films and saw that this one was playing on Cinemax. I hesitated a brief moment before decided to just give it a go.
I'm glad I did.
Yes, `The Box' has a few (or more than a few) holes and it comes up short of brilliant, but much like `Donnie Darko' (another cult favorite by director Richard Kelly), `The Box' has the goods to see it through to the end.
The story told is that of a young family in the 70's who happen to get a rare proposition. Norma and Arthur are falling on tough times. They are obviously in love and `happy', but they are living paycheck to paycheck and are meeting a series of devastating setbacks in their personal life. Arthur works for NASA and Norma is a teacher. They also have a young son. When the film opens, it is quarter-to-six in the morning and there is a knock at the front door. Norma discovers a box on their doorstep. That box contains a wooden box, locked, with a button inside. There is also a note that states a man will be visiting them at five that afternoon with further instructions. Long story short, Norma is informed that she has twenty-four hours to decide whether or not she will push the button. If she does she will receive one-million dollars. Also, someone that she does not know will die.
Now, I have a few issues with the handling of the film from that point forward, namely because the moral complexities that are thrust upon us at that moment could have taken this film ANYWHERE, and I had in mind a place I really thought it would go (especially once Arthur asks the questions "How well do you know me? How well do you know Walter?") but instead, the film takes a slightly different course, one that involves extra-terrestrials and eventually makes its message known (the same message that kind of ruined `The Abyss' for me) and left me a tad wanting. Yes, this film is far from perfect.
STILL, there is a lot going on here that works rather beautifully, and the moral issues presented, while not the ones I anticipated, surely leave room for thought provoking conversation. The idea that mankind was ruined on the whim of a woman (Adam and Eve) and that history is sure to repeat itself (Norma's decision to push the button) are subtle yet poignant POV's that really underline the context of this film.
While I found the overall handling of Arlington Steward and his `minions' to feel rather clichéd and `scare tactic 101', I also found that it didn't take away from the film nearly as much as it could have.
I was pleasantly surprised with the performances gathered together here, especially that of Cameron Diaz, who was marvelous. I had actually heard some love thrown her way by a slew of my cinephile friends who thought the film a dud but thought her performance was Oscar worthy. She really was outstanding here. She not only nailed the accent work and nostalgic embodiment of the era (she felt like she belonged there), but she also layered her every move with a deep-rooted understanding of her characters current situation. The scene where she expresses her reasons for loving Arlington, in the library, was just beautifully done, and that final scene where she pleads with her husband to `make the right choice'...it is effortlessly captured.
She is such a great actress who fails to get the recognition she deserves!
In the end I must say that this film has received a bad rap. It is actually a very smart and provocative film. Sure, it has some areas that make little sense and it needed a little tightening up here and there, but overall this film offers a lot more than most released these days."
Starts good ... then goes bad fast ....... really bad
M. A Spitzer | Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA | 09/12/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Ouch this was a BAD movie !!
It started off very, very good.
But then all of a sudden, they apparently started trying to throw in every Sci-Fi angle they could think of.
Take every episode of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits you can think of ....... put it in a blender ......... filter out the best parts ...... and then whatever silly sludge is left over use to make "The Box".
We watched this with some close friends (we have them over twice per month for dinner and movie night).
This movie had the whole room groaning and laughing on the floor making comments like ...... "Ouch this is really bad. It's like watching Mystery Science Theatre".