Press the button and get a million dollars, but someone whom you don’t know will die. This is the offer given to Norma and Arthur, an ordinary decent couple played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, by the mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella). The question “What would you do?” will ring in your ears as you witness that their decision is just the beginning. Based on a short story by the writer of “I Am Legend” and from the director of “Donnie Darko”, “The Box” takes you on a tense, gripping and totally unpredictable ride as the couple realise that they are part of something greater and far more terrifying than they could ever have imagined.
2009 – Certificate: 12 – USA
Rating Details: Moderate horror and psychological threat
7 out of 10
Has some sort of universal death wish descended on the world’s cycling population this week? Or does a bit of snow render all bicycle lights inoperable and telepathically compel cyclists to wear really dark clothing? The number of people riding bikes in the dark with no lights or anything reflective on, seems to have skyrocketed this week. They’ve been everywhere, literally jumping out in front of me as I drive along, like zombies, except on bikes, and faster, and not undead with bits of rotting flesh hanging off them, not yet anyway. I’m really starting to think that I should take a few of them out with my car, get the issue on the front pages and thus in the long run save many more from getting themselves run over. I know I know, it’s another opportunity for me to become a national hero; and probably locked away by an uncaring judiciary for my troubles too. Whatever happened to the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few? I’ll end up a citizens’ champion, losing my liberty for upholding the teachings of Surak, the subject of many an online petition to have my trial or sentence re-examined. This film offers a not dissimilar choice to people, to sacrifice your own freedom for someone you’ll never met.
This intellectual, sci-fi thriller is a brave attempt to do something a little different; it partly succeeds and the first part is excellent, but in the end it sort of looses the plot a bit, literally. The idea is great, it looks good and it’s fun enough to watch, but it sort of gets a bit too complicated whilst at the same time being a bit too simplistic and leaving too much open to interpretation. If you have to listen to the commentary to find out what was going on, then it’s kind of failed. A second watch would probably be more rewarding, which isn’t such a bad thing. I also didn’t really warm to the main characters Norma and Arthur. They had plenty of money, a nice house, son and lifestyle, yet had over-extended themselves financially a little. However, they didn’t seem to be in any particular difficulty but still choose to press the button. An “ordinary decent couple” it says in the overview. They just condemned someone to death. Geez, I’d hate to meet an ordinary couple that wasn’t decent then. After that, they did lose what little sympathy I had for their ‘plight’. The end should have been pretty heart-rending, but I just found myself thinking that the situation they found themselves in served them right. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I really don’t think I’d have pushed the button. The best scenes are the ones with Employee Arlington Stewart in them; an excellent bit of acting and a wonderfully rendered character. The music is pretty good too.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for people willing to concentrate.
Top badass moment? Cameron pressing the button. Greedy bitch.
January 26, 2013 | Categories: The Thoughts of Cactus | Tags: $1, 000, 1976, 2009, A Million Dollars, Aliens, American Film, Bicycles, Boston, Button Unit, Cameron Diaz, Employees, Frank Langella, James Marsden, Library, Mars, Mars Landings, Massachusetts, NASA, Press the Button, Richard Kelly, Richard Matheson, Run Over, Sci-fi, Science Fiction, Snow, The Box, Thriller, Trailer, USA, Virginia, Winter, Zombies | Leave a comment
I did something last week that I never do these days; I met someone ‘for a drink’ ‘after work’, in a place called Wallingford. Because I don’t ‘do’ friends this isn’t an activity that I find myself involved in very often. Going ‘for a drink’ to me means consuming lots of alcohol, to maximise the possibly of my becoming an obnoxious, unpleasant and a generally horrible human being, so that I don’t get asked to ‘go for a drink’ again. (If I ever did, I’ve long since forgotten how to behave in social situations, so this is how I deal with them these days, on the rare occasion they arise.) Not wanting to drink and drive, I had to work out how to get there. I could have gone on foot, but as Wallingford is probably a good two day’s walk from Reading, I decided this wasn’t very practical. Wallingford doesn’t have a train station and taking a taxi would have meant I’d have had to have sold my body on the streets of Reading for months and months on end to earn enough for the fare; (probably years in fact). As I didn’t have time for this either, I had to explore ‘other options’. So imagine my amazement and pleasure when I discovered that the only alternative appeared to be a trip into space and the chance to be an astronaut, in a 50’s inspired spacecraft called the X40. How fucking cool is that?! I could hardly sleep the night before, I was so excited. On Monday evening I turned up at launch pad EB near Reading Station. Talk about disappointment, I felt like I’d found a $1,000,000 note, only to then be told it was from Zimbabwe and only worth £1.24. (This is the actual conversion rate as of today, I just checked.) The X40 was a bus! What a swizz! I’m seriously thinking of taking the bus company to court with respect to false advertising. The other passengers that boarded with me looked as miserable as I felt, so I expect they were all struggling with the same feelings I was. This film features three people who, unlike me, really did get to fly.
2012 – Certificate: 15 – USA
Rating Details: Bloody injury detail, strong violence and sustained threat
This is nicely made but somehow unsatisfying sci-fi film, about three ‘ordinary friends’ who end up with psychic powers that they then proceed to piss about with. The special effects are great, the movie looks nice and to be fair the acting’s pretty decent too. My main problem with it is that the three of them just weren’t very nice. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t inherently evil or anything, but they came across as caricatures of ‘young people’ rather than real ones. They also behaved like they were about 13, not their real ages, (which I guess were meant to be around 17). So I never really got to care what happened to them. I need to be able to relate to the characters in the films I watch to fully engage with what they’re going through and in this case I just couldn’t. Perhaps I’m just becoming a bitter old man, but that how it was. It’s a great film in many ways, but my inability to give a damn for the three of them held me back. The ‘journey’ from crappy home life to psychopathic loony that one of them goes through really didn’t work for me either. Also, and maybe it’s because I’m a pervert, but if I had powers like them I’d want to use them to ‘rearrange’ ladies clothing; they do next to none of that, which really does undermine their ‘young person’ personas. Having said all that, the scene in the toy shop is really very funny and so well acted it feels more like a documentary. (As an ‘aside’, I want to apologise for my totally ‘over the top’ use of inverted commas here. I’m writing this under the ‘influence’ of half a bottle of wine, so that’s my excuse.)
Recommended for immature adults everywhere; I guess that includes me then.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Scaring little girls is so not cool, but if you’re going to do it anyway there’s not a lot that’s more badass that using a flying, talking teddy bear to do so, like in this film. She’s probably going to grow up to be a psychopathic serial killer as a result of the damage this did to her psyche, but I doubt anyone would be able to prove the link so you’re probably safe from prosecution if you want to have a go too.
Chronicle at IMDB (7.1/10)
October 6, 2012 | Categories: The Thoughts of Cactus | Tags: $1, 000, 2012, Action, Alex Russell, Alien Technology, American Film, Bus, Cape Town, Chronicle, Dane DeHaan, Flying, Friends, Going for a Drink, High School, Josh Trank, Max Landis, Michael B. Jordan, Psychic Powers, Reading, Reading Station, Sci-fi, Science Fiction, South Africa, Superhero, Teddy Bear, Trailer, Wallingford, Western Cape, X40, Zimbabwe | Leave a comment