Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Box (Review)

     I have never seen any of Richard Kelly's other movies and I am not that familiar with the play "No Exit," however, I am very doubtful that my enjoyment of "The Box" will increase any if I were better versed in these works.  I understand stories that are supposed to raise moral and metaphysical questions and make you ponder these types of things for yourself rather than making conclusions for you, however, "The Box" fails to do either. 

     "The Box" stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple who get presented with a choice; they can press a button on a box and they will get a million dollars and someone they don't know, will die, or, they don't press the button and well, this eventuality isn't discussed, but you are meant to assume that nothing will happen.  This choice is presented to them by a mysterious and deformed man played by Frank Langella.  From there, the movie devolves into a messy mix of conspiracy/mystery movie and not quite metaphysical and almost science fiction story that tries very hard to leave you wondering about the fate of humanity and the if we deserve to live on as a species, but ultimately fails to raise any questions. 

     "The Box" fails on many levels.  With the exception of Langella, the acting is really not very good.  Saddling the main characters with vaguely southern accents was not the best of ideas.  The directing isn't bad, but the movie does seem to become lost in its self in the middle, then there are far too many revelations about this mysterious force that's controlling everything, and, from there, the ending is very slow to come and doesn't really leave you with any questions to ponder, except, if the people pushing the button don't really believe that anything will happen when they push it, is it really a test of humanity's altruism?  This might have been a better story if it had been left to the realm of the metaphysical by telling us nothing about the force behind everything, but the suggestion of alien intervention really throws the whole thing into an almost cheesy science fiction area that really doesn't work.  One family's personal Hell, I could work with, but a succession of people being controlled by less than perfect aliens doesn't really make me ponder humanity's inherent worth.  Perhaps if they had left the alien connection for the very end, and shortened the whole thing to ninety minutes, it might have made for a better mystery, but once the Mars judges humanity reference comes out, the mystery is completely deflated and we are left with aliens judging humanity, one case at a time, with rather flawed methods.  Even the threat that humanity might not pass the test, as a lingering question, is defused by the fact that the movie takes place in 1976, so either the aliens are taking their sweet time about judging humanity's worth, or we were deemed worthy at some point in the last thirty-three years and no one bothered to mention it to us. 

     "The Box"  is long and tedious, its secrets are shallow and obvious, and the only thing it leaves one to ponder is, "Why didn't I believe the critics on this one?"  If you can, personally, find some meaning in "The Box," I'm happy for you, but please realize that that meaning is purely a personal one and nothing that is inherently suggested.  (That or you are just claiming to find meaning where there is none because you like to make people think that you are smarter than you actually are.  Sorry if that sounds bitter, but I was really disappointed.)

No comments:

Post a Comment