Monday, January 17, 2011

The Box

What’s in The Box, Sporefans? What’s in The Box?

Nothing good. Not even Frank Langella can save this movie.

As a new rule of thumb I’m going to try and avoid revealing too much about the plots of movies unless its necessary to point out the badness that lies within them. In this case I really need to address something badly thought out in The Box that I can’t do without revealing parts of the plot. If you’re interested in seeing The Box and you don’t trust my evaluation of this movie then stop reading.

That itch.

And they have fleas.

And they’re on fire.

Well they’d both have to be on fire. It’s not like the fire would single out either the socks or the fleas. Fire’s kind of greedy that way.

Still here? Good.

The premise of this movie is that Cameron Diaz and James Marsden receive a box from a stranger with a big red button on it. If they press the button they will receive one-million dollars, tax free; but some one that they don’t know dies. If they don’t press the button, nothing happens. Afterwards Frank Langella takes the box and gives it to some other random person whom Diaz and Marsden don’t know. Come to think of it, there's something awfully familiar about this whole premise.

Well, I do like money... they're probably bad people, right?

I’ll ruin it for you: they press the button.

Of course, after they get their million dollars, bad things start to happen to them. Then weird, ambiguous things start to happen to them. Then some really bad things start to happen to them.

Let's try this again... what have I got in my hand? No, you have to hit the button to answer; use the button!

Now here’s where the holes start to fall out of the plot cheese. Frank Langella is an alien. Also, his character in The Box is an alien, but a much crappier one. In a very Saw-like manner Langella’s character explains to a random skippy, whose job is to be the random skippy who listens to explanations; that the box is a test and that by pushing the button the people are failing the moral choice set up by the Langellien’s alien masters.

It’s also important to know that the Langellien can also control people’s minds, but it’s easy to spot the people who’s minds have been taken over because they all get nose bleeds. Either that or there was a hell of a lot of coke being done at NASA in 1976.

I'm too sexy for this shirt, too sexy for this shirt, so sexy it huuuurts!

Why is this important? Because before Diaz and Marsden get a big steaming square left on their doorstep, people with nose bleeds start to make their lives miserable. For example, Diaz’s character gets fired from her job as a teacher and then the principle gets a nose bleed. Marsden, similarly, looses his chance to become an astronaut via letter, written by someone you never see but who probably had a Kleenex shoved up his or her nose. So you could make the argument that neither of them would have pushed the button if the Langelliens didn’t interfere in their lives in the first place.

In the conclusion to this Saw/Arrival hybrid the Langellien makes Diaz and Marsden’s son blind and deaf. Marsden is faced with a choice: kill his wife or let their son live in darkness for the rest of his life. While all of this is going on, somewhere else, some people that Diaz and Marsden don’t know are looking at a box with a big red button on it.

...but they decide not to waste $12.99 at Spencers.

I’ll ruin it for you: they press the button. It’s as surprising in the film as it is here in print. And at exactly the same moment...

Flowers pop out of Marsden’s gun! Marsden and Diaz get free tickets to Hall and Oates, their kid gets his sight back and they all go to the concert on a flying unicorn. The Langelliens come to Earth and spread peace and love and give us the key to eternal life and happiness for all. Then everyone has cake.

Nah, I’m just messing with you. She dies.

I'm calling from SyFy pictures. Ms. Diaz, we heard that you were in this movie and wanted to let you know that we look forward to working with you in the near future.

Hello? Hello?

This is what passes for clever in Richard Kelly’s movie about a big red button. Let’s skip over the improbability of aliens timing the button press to the precise moment Marsden shoots Diaz in the heart. What about free will? What if Marsden said “no” when the other couple pushed the button? And what of the morality of the Langellien who blinds and deafens an innocent child to make a man murder his own wife? And what other terrible choices do the Langelliens foist upon the unsuspecting masses?

“Eat this puppy or I’ll kill this kitten.”

“Chop off your hand or I'll have your eyes shot out with lasers.”

“Jump off this twelve story building or swim with hungry piranhas.”

“Cream or sugar, but not both!!!

Let's face it boxy... we're not good for each other. No, don't look at me like that. No. You knew what this was! Shhh! Keep it down or Marsden will hear you!

Then again I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I didn’t recognise who Richard Kelly was until someone pointed out that he directed Donny Darko. I’ve never seen Donny Darko, but I’ve heard two people say the following about the movie.

“Yeah, it was good. I liked it.”

“It made me want to gouge out my eyes and vomit until I could un-remember having ever heard of the damned film. I wanted to volunteer for a lobotomy just so I could be spared the pain and suffering of having ever heard of Donny Darko. It made me doubt the benevolence of God and of justice in a moral and civilized society.”

Let's face it people, this movie sucks. And no amount of psychotropic wallpaper will distract anyone from that fact. No, that's not the interior of an alien spacecraft,it's their dining room.

So I decided to skip Donny Darko... for now. But a bigger question here is, why didn’t I know who directed this film until I got to the credits? There has been a rash of what I’d like to call ambush directorials lately; where you watch a movie, realize that you hate it and then in the credits you find out who directed it and say “Aw crap, is that why that films sucked! No wonder!” It’s almost as if they’re embarrassed to put their name on their work. Like it was some big, square steaming pile waiting on your doorstep for you to step on.

One final note: The box was empty.

And just in case you still feel like it, here's the trailer for The Box. If you watch the trailer, you can pretty much skip the movie.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Last time on the tome we did a review for Mega Shark VS. Giant Octopus where I told you all, Sporefans, that the Shark and the Octopus fought to the death in the briny deep.


It must have been all that Debbie Gibson music.

One year later, SyFy released the movie Sharktopus! Half shark, half octopus, the Sharktopus stalks the tattered remains of Eric Roberts' career and feeds upon its entrails. Obviously the sharktopus wanted to eat only the Best of the Best.

Sharktopus: The snack that eats you back!

I’m just kidding. Eric Robert’s career is doing just as well as it has since the early nineties. The Sharktopus didn’t really eat it after all; it’s all done with smoke and mirrors. It’s not like Robert’s has sunk to the level of Daniel Baldwin, whose name still sends shudders up the spines of actors fallen upon bad times everywhere.

In fact, Sharktopus is a very watchable movie. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a good movie, but it’s a fun movie and definitely one you can drink to. And it didn’t kill Eric Robert’s career, although his character did die a grisly death.

How can I claim that a movie about a half-shark half octopus is worth watching? It’s easy if you know what to look for.

No, but a girl in a bikini is a good guess.

Eric Roberts is having fun.

In fact, all of the actors in Sharktopus are having a good time. You can tell by the fact that they’re not retching every time they say their lines, as is the case with many SyFy films. I guess Declan O’Brien learned that the best way to up the palatability of his movies is to play up the camp; something he might have picked up from Roger Corman who has a small appearance in Sharktopus as a guy who doesn’t get eaten. He does something else in the movie that I forgot about since I looked at the cover art for this film; something about products or something. Anyway, Sharktopus clearly prefers to eat girls in skimpy bikinis.

Although on occasion Sharktopus will get busy with a boat.

Gotta say, my favorite part is when Sharktopus climbs out of the water on its tentacles to come after some people on the beach. I hear he’s Big in Japan, for some strange reason.

Don't worry! Sharktopus just wants to give you a big hug because your cameraman just got eaten by... um...

Watching Declan O’Brien redeem himself from his past terrible movie fills me with some sort of positive feeling. Not hope, because that’s too strong a word and has already been appropriated by modern politics... more like nostalgia. Now that I’m thinking about it John “is that gasoline I smell” Polito was in that other movie by O’Brien that I reviewed. And come to think of it, John “is that gasoline I smell” Polito was also in The Crow. So in the spirit of linking unrelated things I’m going to appropriate and parody a small poem that appeared in The Crow to wrap up this review.

Apparently it was originally from Paradise Lost by Milton, who is some writer or something. I dunno.

Avast the mushroom stood,
and saw how awesome foulness was,
and saw Virtue in a tentacled shark who ate people;
saw, and watched it again on his DVR.

Keep your eyes peeled for other "something" vs. "something" movies on Syfy. It looks like they’re trying to pick up the ToHo mantle.

I was going to add the official trailer at the end here, but this one's much better. I think cormaniac2010 clearly demonstrates that Sharktopus is just a misunderstood protector of the environment. With teeth. And tentacles.