The Box (Blu-ray)

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Cameron Diaz as Norma Lewis
James Marsden as Arthur Lewis
Frank Langella as Arlington Steward
Gillian Jacobs as Dana Steward
Sam Oz Stone as Walter Lewis
Ryan Woodle as Lucas Carnes
James Rebhorn as Norm Cahil
Holmes Osborne as Dick Burns
Andrew Levitas as Carson
Bill Thorpe as NASA Administrator
Allyssa Maurice as Suzanne Weller

Special Features:
Commentary By Director Richard Kelly
The Box: Grounded In Reality
Music Video Prequels
Visual Effects Revealed
Richard Matheson: In His Own Words

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS-HD MA 5.1 Sound
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 116 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Push a red button on a little black box, get a million bucks cash. But there’s a catch: Someone, somewhere – someone they don’t know – will die. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple confronted by agonizing temptation yet unaware they’re already part of an orchestrated an – for them and us – mind-blowing chain of events. Frank Langella also stars in this gripping sci-fi mystery thriller from director Richard Kelly (‘Donnie Darko’) and a short story by Richard Matheson (‘I Am Legend’).”

“The Box” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images.

Mini-Review:
The first half of “The Box” was pretty good. It felt a lot like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” (in fact, I believe there was once an episode based on the short story). Sure, you wonder why Norma and Arthur don’t distrust Arlington more. You wonder why they don’t question more why a strange man would randomly show up on their porch with a magic box. They’re just in the situation, they accept it, and you wonder what happens when (not if) they push the button. You wonder what the connection to Mars is, why this couple was chosen to be tested, etc. But “The Box” begins to fall apart the deeper into the mystery the story progresses. I think at this point the story becomes less of a Richard Matheson story and more of a Richard Kelly story. You start getting Kelly’s trademark extremely bizarre scenes, bizarre characters, and psychedelic moments. All the questions that you hope will be answered are either tossed aside or answered with even more questions. By the end of the movie the scenes are so randomly hopping around that you literally start thinking Kelly accidentally left scenes on the cutting room floor. Characters zip from one location to the next without so much as an explanation. The viewer ends up getting quite lost and by the end of the story you’re either confused, frustrated, and/or angry for having wasted 116 minutes of your life. The performances and cinematography are all fine. It’s just the script that’s a confusing mess. It’s just like “Donnie Darko” and “Southland Tales” in that respect. The surreal story is either your cup of tea or not. I, personally, prefer a bit more straightforward storytelling and a little more resolution by the time the credits roll. I think even a fan of this film would have a hard time explaining it to someone else.

Unless you’ve been previously indoctrinated into David Kelly’s filmography, I suggest you skip this and go watch “The Twilight Zone” instead. “The Box” is simply going to be way too weird for most mainstream audiences.

You’ll find a small selection of bonus features on the Blu-ray. There’s a commentary by director Richard Kelly. “The Box: Grounded In Reality” is a featurette showing how Richard Kelly based Norma and Arthur on his real parents. It’s amazing how many details about his parents were included in the film. It gets to the point you start to realize this love letter to his parents may have pulled the movie away from the core story. That being said, those parts of the film were the most coherent. But you do have to wonder what he’s saying about his mom when Norma pushes the button to get money and kill a stranger! “Richard Matheson: In His Own Words” shows the original author and he talks about the development of the short story as well as some of his other works. Rounding things out are some “Music Video Prequels” which were just extra scenes from the film about the Mars mission and “Visual Effects Revealed” which shows how they removed Langella’s face and added snow and ’70s era cars to the scenes.

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