Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's In The Box? What's In The Box?!

What's In The Box? What's In The Box?!

No, this isn't about a sequel to the movie Se7en. Though I have to say that movie's line was delivered perfectly by Brad Pit.

Richard Kelly, Director of the emo favorite Donnie Darko is back after directing an awful, incoherent pile of shit that is Southland Tale and brings us "The Box". Now, I don't know what happened to Kelly after Donnie Darko, but can we please have that Richard Kelly back? As funny as it is to hear Buffy sing "Teen Horniness is not a crime", Southland Tales was awful.

The Box is based off a Twilight Zone episode from the 80's and originally from a short story posted in Playboy. You would know if you read the articles. So what's the film about?;
Norma and Arthur Lewis, a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger, delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. But, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world; someone they don't know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.
And if you're someone who needs pretty pictures to go along with it to get the full visual, here's the trailer:

Yup, that sure is one moral test right there. The film is based on a short story and a Twilight Zone episode "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson, but Kelly has expanded on that story and added a lot of head explosion material. I'm not sure Kelly knows what he's doing. I say this especially after hearing his own take on Donnie Darko - wherein I learned he pulled some Harper Lee bullshit and created something far more brilliant than himself. Don't worry, Kelly. I've done it myself once too many times. Created some piece of art and it was far more brilliant than myself. These things happen.

Here's my concern for the movie: Is there really enough of a plot to fill the duration? The short story and the Twilight Zone episode work because they're, you know, shorter, and this story seems like it's built to be a quick hit. A fast moral tale about putting you own needs above the needs of others. It's set up as a brief reflection on morality and the danger of compromising yourself for personal gain. You can accept the fact that the box is magic because the story never tries to connect with any reality outside its own very limited range. The trailer has the movie looking like an action film with conspiracies and murderers and whatnot. I don't think the logic of the story can hold up.

This is another idea ruined by explaining away all the mystery. Did no one learn from the godawful Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween reboots, or Hannibal Rising? You should just leave good enough alone. Don't try to justify or create a reason out of your ass as to why things are happening the way that they are or give an origin to something that doesn't need it.

You want to know what happens after the 30 minute mark? We find out that the box was a test by Martians to see how humanity reacts to others needs. We fail the test when she and a lot of other people who get the box push the button and a whole lot of bad shit happens. All because we show that humanity is putting their own personal gain ahead of another human life. That very idea is dumb. We put our own well being ahead of human life every hour of every day. That's what it is to be human. To think otherwise is stupid.

And since Richard Kelly is all about prequel and going into a film with some massive knowledge of a film's world history, there's this little ARG that acts as a prequel with the clips which you can find right here at YOU ARE THE EXPERIMENT . Someone should tell him that you shouldn't have to know something about a film to have to enjoy it. That's what the fucking film is, a self contained story.

If you're interested in watching the Twilight Zone episode Button, Button. Here you go;

See, no need for reading an entire graphic novel to understand what happens in that episode of the twilight zone. Maybe that's why it was a great television series and not like Southland Tale in that it didn't tell a fucking coherent story. Now when can Richard Kelly get back to something like Donnie Darko.. Maybe even a sequel to it.. oh wait........

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