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The Box
BLU-RAY disk
03.04.2010 By: Jason Adams
The Box order download
Director:
Richard Kelly

Actors:
Cameron Diaz
James Marsden
Frank Langella

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When a strange man presents a young couple with a box containing a simple button葉hat when pushed promises great wealth, as well as the death of a total stranger葉heir moral dilemma is just the beginning of a much bigger mystery.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I love DONNIE DARKO, but after watching SOUTHLAND TALES last week I was no longer sure how I felt about Richard Kelly as a filmmaker. Was he a skilled craftsman trying to sound too 都mart for his own good, or a true auteur whose encompassing vision was too complex to be understandably contained by the medium? THE BOX would hopefully be a good indicator of which one it was.

Thankfully THE BOX is different than anything Kelly has made so far, in a good way. An old fashioned suspense and paranoia thriller filtered through the filmmaker痴 sensibilities, the film is definitely more straightforward in terms of plot and comprehension, but it retains the constant sense of mystery and uneasy tension Kelly has deftly demonstrated. There痴 still a genuine WTF? factor to some of the proceedings, but the randomness is part of the story and easier to swallow than anything in SOUTHLAND TALES. And while the pace was deliberate and slow, it kept me constantly enthralled and involved more than most films I can remember from 2009.

Like Kelly痴 other work, THE BOX wears its influences on its sleeve. From discussions about Hell in Jean Paul Sarte痴 哲o Exit to Astounding Science Fiction comics to a fairly prominent quote by Arthur C. Clarke, it痴 not exactly subtle subtext, but it痴 used fairly well. Tonally, there痴 a strong Hitchcock vibe to the flick (especially with the Bernard Herrmann-esque score) but it痴 still got all the trademark Kellyisms including diagrams and manuals, vessels, weird liquid portals and jumbled themes. In fact, with the slow burn style and thematic combination of scientific exploration, religious undertones, human behavior, the 1970s and the supernatural, I can稚 be the only person who felt a connection to a really good 鏑ost episode, right?

Of course, THE BOX comes from Richard Matheson痴 much adapted short story, 釘utton, Button. And don稚 worry; if you致e seen the 典wlight Zone version of the story, you haven稚 seen THE BOX. (Though there are references to it.) The existing source material only covers the first half hour of the film and, trust me, you have no idea where this movie is going. In the end, THE BOX is surprisingly straightforward. Kelly peppers the movie with little reveals and tidbits the entire way, so that the final reveal isn稚 really a reveal at all. (It was actually quite refreshing for those expecting a giant Shyamalan twist.) And while I had some issues with the film痴 final scenes, in no part due to the strong acting by James Marsden, Cameron Diaz and Frank Langella預ll of whom give good performances, overall THE BOX is an expert mood and tension piece. Any qualms I had about the conclusion probably wouldn稚 stop me from watching this flick again just for the ride.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by Richard Kelly: If you致e heard Kelly痴 commentary on his films previous DVDs, you know he痴 a fairly entertaining and well-presented speaker. THE BOX is no different. He gives his personal connection to the story, which is actually fairly valid and not just self-gratification, as well as goes in to detail about the workings of the film痴 plots and the themes behind it. He explains just enough to pique your interest without ruining everything completely.

THE BOX: Grounded in Reality: Kelly again speaks about his inspiration for the film and the story behind it, though I found a lot of the information in this ten minute feature familiar after listening to the commentary.

Richard Matheson: In His Own Words: A nice interview from the original short story痴 author, who provides a different perspective on the material.

Visual Effects Revealed: A few short segments about the various CGI elements. Nothing too exciting or ground breaking.

Music Videos and Trailers.

The package also comes with a second disc that contains a DVD and Digital Copy of the movie.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE BOX shows that Richard Kelly is at least capable of using his sensibilities as a filmmaker to tell an effective and, more importantly, understandable story. And although it falters slightly in the end, THE BOX is still a great, moody and complex thriller that should find a new life on DVD.

Extra Tidbit: That Bernard Herrmann-esque score I mentioned was provided by no other than indie band extraordinaire Arcade Fire.
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