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Based on the classic short story, “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson, writer/director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) brings us The Box, which asks the question, what would you be willing to sacrifice for a million dollars? Between this and The Fourth Kind, this weekend’s box office should empty the pockets of sci-fi fans nation wide.

Check out the review below…

The Players

Synopsis:

The year is 1976, and life in the suburbs is about as anti-climactic as feeding a fish. Norma Lewis (Diaz) a teacher at a private high school and her husband Arthur (Marsden) a NASA engineer live an average life with their son, until a lube-job with a hole in his face (Langella) shows up at their doorstep with an intriguing proposition: The Box. Press the button on the box, and you are immediately presented with 1 million dollars – at the expense of 1 human life. The burning question: press it and spend the rest of your life as a guilt-ridden degenerate? This is America, money talks, baby.

The Good:

  • Concept: “At the heart of ‘The Box’ is moral dilemma” says Richard Kelly. Concurred. The decision at hand for the Lewis family is a tough one – Arthur has been demoted, Norma needs surgery, etc. How often is one million dollars sitting on your kitchen table? A random, unrelated person will die, but your problems are solved. It’s optimistic to assume that the inhabitants of a universe driven by materialism wouldn’t at least mull over the proposition.
  • Temptation: Norma presses the button only to instantly regret her move. Humans have an indispensable desire for immediate satisfaction that oftentimes breeds impulsive behavior. Sadly, we don’t spend enough time considering the ramifications. The Box is a heightened, but well projected demonstration of this reality – challenging both the film’s characters and the audience with questions of self-sacrifice and redemption.  
  • Structure: The story unravels itself quite inventively. While initially there are a lot of vague scenes and random cutting around, gradually, everything becomes accounted for. Every bit of tape presents a needed piece of information about this mysterious box. Once the story takes off, the rush of suspense and the desire to put the pieces together captures the audience until the credits roll.
  • Message: If we can’t prioritize the good of mankind before our individual needs, the demise of the human race is right around the corner. Enough said.

The Bad:

  • Cameron Diaz: I’m constantly asking myself how it is that Diaz tricks casting directors into giving her roles. She barely demonstrated a morsel of honesty in her performance. And her massively exaggerated Southern dialect (while no one else in the cast had more than a subtle twang) deflected all believability. The tears, the quizzical brow, the scowls of horror (!), were all hilarious – so hilarious, in fact, it was easy to forget how many people were dying and how high the steaks actually were. Not good.

Overall:

The Box was not bad, not bad at all. Even for those of us who aren’t sci-fi fans, this movie provokes much thought and definitely had me in a bit of a mental zone for a solid hour after seeing it.

Rating: 8/10

Check out The Box in theaters November 6th!

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Trailer: