Monday, February 22, 2010

The Box Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 20.1 GB
Film Size: 17.6 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABC
The Video
The Box comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The film has a very distinct look to it, always featuring a soft glow from beginning to end. Past the glow, the film features a pleasing level of clarity and detail.

I don’t particularly love the look of the film and it doesn’t help create a stunning visual presentation, but at least it gives it a look to be remembered. The movie definitely has an authentic aged look to it and you can tell it’s all intentional.

The Blu-ray release is not particularly impressive because of this, but at least presents the Director’s intention accurately and improves upon the included DVD. Colors on this release are usually very strong and black levels are definitely satisfying.

I was thinking of rating the video presentation slightly lower than what I have listed now, but I can’t knock a video presentation due to intention. There were no technical issues which I found with the high-def transfer and it will certainly satisfy most if not all viewers. 8/10.

The Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included and is quite average to be honest. I definitely expected more from the thriller and it ultimately fails to deliver. The mix is not particularly immersive and at times tends to sound a bit dull and flat.

The audio is improved from the DVD which makes me think perhaps dialogue was not captured as clearly as it could have been. Regardless, there is upgrade to be had when you compare the mix from the Blu-ray and included DVD.

The film features some good surround use from time to time, adding a sense of environment, but those moments are few and far between. The film’s music is aggressive in a good way and comes through clearly from the front left and right surrounds speakers.

Overall I do think the mix could have been at least a bit better. Dialogue was generally easy to understand, but suffered a little during more aggressive scenes. Regardless, I think fans will be pleased by this lossless audio mix. 7/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:
Audio Commentary
By Director Richard Kelly.
The Box: Grounded in Reality (10:43) (HD)
Director Richard Kelly talks about contacting Richard Matheson (writer of the short story) about turning the short story into a film. We get a lot of behind-the-scenes footage included and it’s all in high-definition.
Richard Matheson: In His Own Words (4:54) (HD)
Writer Richard Matherson talks about when he began writing and what launched his writing career. This is a very informative and nice feature to be included.
Visual Effects Revealed (3:55) (HD)
Visual Effects Editor Dylan Highsmith talks about some specific special effects in the film, fans of the visual effects will definitely enjoy this behind-the-scenes look.
Music Video Prequels (9:14) (HD)
Includes ‘Exhibit A’, ‘Exhibit B’ and ‘Exhibit C.’

Disc 2:
DVD Copy of the film
Warner Bros. plans to bring all new release films with a DVD copy included, The Box is one of the first to be packaged as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.
Digital Copy of the film.
Also included on disc 2 is a Digital Copy, which is compatible with iTunes and Windows Media. The Digital Copy expires on February 22nd, 2011.

There are not many extras on this release, but I loved what was included. I loved the featurette which features Richard Matheson and the behind-the-scenes look of production is just great. The inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film is a very welcome addition and something I hope more studios begin to embrace. The Blu-ray release really is the ultimate value in all aspects for those looking to purchase this film for their collection. 7/10.

The Movie
The Box has always interested me since the very first theatrical trailer was released; learning that it was from Richard Kelly (Director of Donnie Darko) had me even more intrigued. The film received a fairly negative response from critics upon its theatrical release, one reviewer I remember calling the movie ‘laughable.’

Regardless of critic reviews, I went into the film with an open mind but set my expectations at an average level. The film starts and I am immediately thrown out of the film, I have no problem with Cameron Diaz in most film, but her attempt of an accent in this film was a bit ridiculous and unbelievable.

The movie does leave you interested from beginning to end and I never found myself bored. I do think the film is significantly stronger during the first half than it is during the latter though.

The film starts off in December, a little before six in the morning. We are at the home of a married couple played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. They are asleep but are awaken by their doorbell ringing, only to find a car driving away and a box unattended at their doorstep.

The box is very simple, featuring only a red button in the center. Included with the box is a letter stating that they would receive a call at 5:00 PM. At 5:00 PM a man comes to the home, missing half of his face and asking to come in. He explains that the box features a button, which if pressed will have two things happen.

If the button is pressed, the first thing to happen is someone in the world, someone they do not know will die. The second thing to happen is they will receive a cash payment of one million dollars. The money becomes all the more tempting when they both learn of very disappointing news at both of their jobs. They have 24 hours to press the button and earn the money or else he will come back and offer the reward to another couple.

So do they press the box or don’t they? Are there consequences for pressing the button or not pressing the button? That is where the film really begins to dig deeper and where I will stop talking about the story for those who would like to avoid spoilers.

The movie is a bit strange, in typical Richard Kelly style, but I did not find it as bad as many originally said. Sure there are some dumb moments, but overall I think this is a very interesting and intriguing film that is at least worth a rental and your time.

Richard Kelly is a Director that not everyone loves; his films are definitely on the stranger side and are not always well received. I personally am a big fan of Donnie Darko, but at the same time I absolutely hated Southland Tales. This film has some great and effective moments, but overall is still very far from a great film.

I think it is a satisfying thriller, but I do wish some things particularly towards the end where changed for the better. Overall I think the movie is quite average, but at least it’s entertaining from beginning to end. 6/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Box is a decent thriller, but not one that many will love. The Blu-ray release is fairly good, featuring nice detail and a good audio mix. Extras on this release are also quite satisfying. The Blu-ray release is ‘Recommend’ to fans and ‘Worth A Look’ to all others.

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