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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NO EXIT
The year is 1976. Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a teacher who loves Sarte and teaches "No Exit" in her classroom, something that is a flag for symbolism and oddball. Arthur (James Marsden) is a NASA scientist. When Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) appears at their door, their dream life becomes a Phantasm nightmare. He gives them a box with simple instructions: Push the...
Published 11 months ago by The Movie Guy

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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boxing Clever?
A facially disfigured man named Arlington Steward (played by the impressive Langella) turns up at a young couple's house and offers them a choice: ignore the box he had previously delivered, or open the box with a key, hit a red button and they will receive 1,000,000 dollars tax free. The catch is that if they push the red button, someone somewhere will die. Not something...
Published on 13 May 2010 by Jones the Film


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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boxing Clever?, 13 May 2010
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
A facially disfigured man named Arlington Steward (played by the impressive Langella) turns up at a young couple's house and offers them a choice: ignore the box he had previously delivered, or open the box with a key, hit a red button and they will receive 1,000,000 dollars tax free. The catch is that if they push the red button, someone somewhere will die. Not something that most of us will experience in our lives I would imagine.

Its all set in the seventies and as a period piece it delivers very well. The ethical maze the couple go through is interesting, but it all gets a bit confusing when the film attempts to explain Mr Steward's modus operandi (something to do with being hit by lightening and acting as an agent for some unspecified superiors), especially as there are vague but apparently meaningless references to the Viking probe's mission to Mars.

Its quite a clever story, but at the time of watching it I saw too many imperfections to completely wow me. That said, I kept thinking about it time and again over several days and that counts for a lot in a movie these days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange but entertaining, 21 April 2012
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
The Box is probably one of the weirdest films you'll ever see, its a strange blend of science fiction, conspiracy thriller, drama and pshycological horror. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a married couple who are given an offer by a creepy Frank Langella: press the button get a million dollars but somebody will die. And so ensues a strange series of events that all fit together quite cleverly but are sometimes a little far fetched to really seem terrifying. There is enough action, tension and great acting here to save this film from a two star rating and it is somewhat entertaining if you ignore the oddness of it all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NO EXIT, 14 May 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
The year is 1976. Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a teacher who loves Sarte and teaches "No Exit" in her classroom, something that is a flag for symbolism and oddball. Arthur (James Marsden) is a NASA scientist. When Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) appears at their door, their dream life becomes a Phantasm nightmare. He gives them a box with simple instructions: Push the button and someone you don't know dies and you get a million dollars. After the payoff, our couple gets cold feet suspecting they are being set up for the next kill when some stranger pushes the button next.

The theme is set for the human race. This is what corporations do in third world countries where they exploit and sometimes kill workers in order to make money. Push the button, get a million dollars. The film turns weird after they push the button as it unleashes a sci-fi series of events that keeps you guessing.

If you noticed they lived in house number "7321" which adds up to lucky 13, something that would be more significant if this was a horror film. This is based on a short story and only Diaz's character was really developed. I had the feeling scenes were cut or deleted. There was an opportunity to utilize some neat scenes and special effects, but they opted for some water tricks instead. I would have loved this film if they showed more behind the scenes stuff instead of creating a mystery. If you are going to create a geek film, don't pull punches and try to make an Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Outer Limits.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A box that definitely needs burying !, 1 Mar 2013
By 
Mr. J. C. Schofield "Redhighed" (Wakefield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
How do you take such a promising short story by Richard Matheson and turn it into a pile of garbage. Well what you do is stick to the story for the first quarter of the film then you take a jar LSD tablets and wash them down with two bottles of whiskey, then proceed to make the remaining three quarters of the movie.
The first part of this movie is everything I'd hoped the movie would be about. A strange and compelling storyline that is just begging you to look around the next corner to see where it's going to take you. Sadly it doesn't take you anywhere except with the possibility of the nearest local asylum trying to work out what's going on. The two main leads, Diaz and Marsden are constantly put in differing scenarios with no explanation of their surroundings, why people are behaving like they're behaving, why everyone keeps getting nose bleeds etc etc the list goes on. And at no point throughout the film do you get any answers. Basically at the end of the movie you get an idea of what is happening at the start and the finish, but you have absolutely no clue what is happening for the majority of the movie.
I liken it to modern art. You'll always get some pretentious type telling you why a red square canvas with a little purple square in one corner is deep and meaningful, but most people no it's garbage. It's pretending to be something it's not. This movie is the same, it's a film with a little bit of movie making at either end and a load of old nothingness throughout most of the movie !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nonsensical Science Fiction, 30 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
Would you push the button or not, was a question that certainly intrigued me. I thought the film was going to be a thriller/light horror, so was very disappointed when it descended into nonsensical science fiction. If you're not a sci-fi fan, or your science fiction has to be remotely believable, then avoid this at all costs.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 31 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
A film that would appeal to those that appreciate classic sci-fi more than today's audience who prefer a fast paced action packed scifi movie. This has elements of classic b/w sci-fi and horror and the 70s Mars mission and Arthur C Clarke connection made it even more compelling. In fact I think its one of the most interesting sci-fi movies in the last decade and completely underrated due to modern audiences not appreciating this style of movie making which is much slower paced and perhaps too cerebral. Its a film that would have been appreciated far more had it been made back in the 70s and might even have become a classic, as it stands its a good movie but out of sync with modern day audiences and probably badly marketed as there are a lot of older scifi fans that would probably like it. Some of the plot is confusing but I like the fact that it kept you guessing and most of it made sense in the end but it had a very dark and twisted plot which worked well.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, Baffling, Banal, 3 May 2010
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
Based on "Button, Button", a short story by I Am Legend author Richard Matheson, The Box is the third film from cult director Richard Kelly, and while it has its moments - a few particularly effective chills and thrills right around the midpoint - at the end of the day, it's no Donnie Darko. Mind you, it's also a far cry from Southland Tales, Kelly's disastrous sophomore feature, the less said about which the better.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Early critical reception to The Box has been overwhelmingly negative, and let's be quite clear: this isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. In many respects, The Box is a successful enough piece of stylish, thought-provoking entertainment that I'd recommend any interested parties ignore the off-putting buzz and come to their own conclusions. The trouble is, having made his directorial debut with the mind-melting Donnie Darko, everything Richard Kelly makes will be measured against that impossibly high watermark, and that's both a blessing and a curse. Rubbing shoulders with such company can only give his films more exposure, but more likely than not, they will ultimately fall foul of the comparison.

Given that, it's perhaps not the greatest idea for Kelly to court such speculation, but The Box is, as Donnie Darko was, a period piece. Set in 1976, against the height of NASA's spacefaring glory days, Norma and Arthur Lewis have fallen on hard times, so when an enigmatic man with a horrifying disfigurement delivers to them a box that could mean the end of their woes, they have some serious thinking to do. On the box, you see, is a button, and if they press the button, the mysterious man will give them $1m. The catch is that if they do, somewhere, someone - someone neither Norma nor Arthur know - will die.

It's a brilliantly simple high-concept, and once you're made it through 20 minutes of dull, unnecessary exposition, the potential of it positively screams. I don't think it's spoiling things to say that yes, they push the button. Of course they do; what kind of narrative could possibly come out of a couple discussing a philosophical quandary for an hour and a half? In any event, what follows, once Norma and Arthur have thrown caution into the wind and done the deed, is certainly the most accomplished part of The Box: a second act that isn't so much sci-fi as an incredibly unnerving creepshow. There's a touch of The Crazies in a chase around a labyrinthine library, more than a dollop of David Lynch in some of Kelly's deliberately stilted camerawork - one particularly memorable sequence has a man standing at a window in the background while little Walter plays Monopoly with his babysitter. It doesn't sound like much, but it's executed with such finesse, such understatement, that the goosebumps will have you.

Sadly, from there on out, The Box becomes a bit of a mess. Kelly takes his high concept too far, explicating on innumerable things that would have been better left unsaid; better, surely, had they been left to our imagination rather than subjected to needless talking heads which only exist to encourage further befuddlement on the part of the viewer. In the last act, Kelly seems to decide that there just hasn't been enough weirdness, and henceforth piles it on, thick and fast and completely, utterly wrong-headed. There are entire scenes that The Box would be a much better film without, scenes which mean to complicate the alluringly clear premise at the heart of the narrative, but serve only to muddy it, to numb whatever impact the climax might otherwise have had.

All of which is a real shame, because each the component parts of a truly great film are present and correct. The primary cast equip themselves well. Cameron Diaz doesn't have the most convincing Southern drawl, and the chemistry between she and James Marsden isn't up to much, but beyond those complaints, they play their parts well. Frank Langella, meanwhile, is a quiet revelation as Arlington Steward, the mysterious man with the box. As in Donnie Darko, the score is excellent, effective even when it's at its most bombastic, though Kelly goes with original music here rather than the who's-who of the 80s that made up the soundtrack to his first film. The period setting, too, is authentic, pulled off well without drawing too much attention.

Sadly, a good cast, a great premise and some fine set-design aren't enough to make The Box compulsive viewing; nor is the man with half a face or the sinister Santa. Kelly has all the right ingredients at hand, but in an attempt to top the brilliantly baffling finale of Donnie Darko, he rather squanders them. That's not to say The Box isn't an adequate way to pass an evening, only that it could have been so much more - if only it had been a little... less.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, convoluted, dull..., 22 April 2010
By 
flanners (birmingham uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
This film is a real mish mash, and not in a good way. It starts off well and it appears it's going to be a good psychological thriller - the initial idea does grab your interest. It then gets long winded and boring, I found myself getting distracted and nearly giving up. Then it just gets plain weird and turns into an x files type sci fi film, before coming back to tie up the loose ends with the most convoluted and ridiculous ending I've ever seen in my life. Even with the ending I still couldn't make much sense of what it was trying to tell me. I think the film's main problem is that it doesn't know what it wants to be so it ends up just being confusing. It was good to see Cameron Diaz out of her stereotypical role though, hence the two stars instead of one.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood Genius (no spoilers), 19 Jun 2010
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This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely loved this film which explores areas of thought rarely tackled by Hollywood film makers. It starts off as a thriller and then progresses into hard sci-fi. It's well acted, intelligent, beautifully filmed and intriguing. What more could you want?
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than rumour suggests: almost an elongated X-File..., 23 Feb 2010
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Box [DVD] (DVD)
The Box got a huge panning when it appeared in cinemas yet it wasn't a total disaster by any means. There are some decent performances based around an interesting theme and a moral dilemma.
The plot very much brought to mind the continuing sub-plot of the X-Files, that part of human govt was collaborating with an alien invasion in order to play for time. The central story behind The Box is rather different and I don't want to give too much of the plot away! But there are definite echoes which will feel familiar to X-Files fans. Or on the other hand, the unseen agency at work could be rather more mystical or godly than extra-terrestrial: the fun part of The Box is that it doesn't answer all of the questions. Although you do find out what happens to the couple involved, who -- yes -- press the button on The Box for immense financial reward, even though they know that someone will die as a result, there are plenty of other threads left floating and unresolved.
The flaws in this film come from the editing, I suspect, because there are a few scenes and part of the continuity which flat-out don't make sense when you review them afterwards. It also suffers a little from being based around a slender short story (which then became a Twilight Zone TV episode, I think?), so there is some pointless, rushing-around, padding out the middle.

The Box has been categorised by some as 'horror' which is over-stating it. There is some tension, and facial make-up which will make you wince on one of the lead characters, but it's really not a chain-saw crazy flick, as the 12 rating will tell you.
Decent enough entertainment for a Saturday night at home. One to rent...
7/10
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