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March 23, 2010
The Box Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
15/11/200923/3/2010Icon FilmsRichard Kelly
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Cameron Diaz

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Cameron Diaz makes a worried call.

With a production budget of $US30 million, but only managing to earn $US28 million at the worldwide box office it's fair to say that The Box was a commercial failure at the cinemas, but with a strong cast including Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella we expect this movie should do quite well as a rental. So what's this movie about? Well it's based on the short story by Richard Matheson who was responsible for writing I am Legend, The Stir of Echos, The Shrinking Man and numerous short stories turned into episodes of The Twilight Zone. But what about The Box?

Push a red button on a little black box, get a million bucks cash. But there's a catch: Someone somewhere - someone that you don't know - will die. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple, Norma and Arthur Lewis, confronted by agonizing temptation yet unaware they're part of an orchestrated and mind-blowing chain of events.

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Frank Langella, brilliant as Arlington Steward.
I have to say that for the first hour or so of this movie was quite underwhelming to me. It was slow, meandering, rather dull and it seemed to be taking forever to really build up any sort of momentum. Ultimately, and I'm not really spoiling anything here, they push the red button which is when you think things might pick up, but they don't. Indeed, strange things start to happen but it's not really until well over an hour into the movie that things really start to pick up pace with a definite ramping up of the thrills, suspense, and action. But then we hit some weird sci-fi stuff which I won't detail for destroying the storyline, but ultimately end up coming to a rather gripping conclusion to the movie.

What really saved this movie for me though were the performances from the three leads, Cameron Diaz as Norma Lewis, James Marsden as Arthur Lewis and Frank Langella as the mysterious Arlington Steward. Each puts in a fine performance which certainly conveys their characters motives and emotions superbly, but it was Frank Langella who steals the show as the deformed man who makes the offer to the Lewis's for pushing the button. His role is haunting to say the least.

It's fair to say that this psychological sci-fi thriller won't be for everyone and ultimately it's probably not a movie that I would return to on a regular basis. Having said that The Box was a movie which, after the first hour, held our interest pretty well and we would certainly recommend fans of the actors, or genres, check this movie out.

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James Marsden as Arthur Lewis in The Box (2009).
The Box comes to Blu-Ray in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. This isn't the shiniest, glossiest Hollywood feature film we have ever seen but it appears the filmmakers have intentionally made this film look like a period piece set in the 1970's. Many of the scenes have a rather warm sepia tone, especially those indoors, while vibrant colours only appear on occasion to enhance key moments.

The movies bitrate constantly hovers above 20Mbps, often reaching well above that which is decent given the near 2 hour runtime.

There are two audio options on this disc, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz) as well as a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. We flicked between the two tracks before settling on the DTS-HD Master Audio track due to a slightly higher bitrate and a slight personal preference for that format. In any case this is quite a good audio effort although it does seem quite front heavy a with some dialogue also mixed a little too quietly for our likings.

There is only a single subtitle track on this disc - English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. We sampled this on moments throughout the movie and it was accurate to the on-screen dialogue and noises.

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The Box (starring Cameron Diaz) is on Blu-Ray.
The Box comes to Blu-Ray with a few extras worth spending the time with, although there isn't a massive amount of content.

Audio Commentary with Director Richard Kelly: This is actually quite an interesting commentary with the director, who also wrote the screenplay, having plenty of information to detail about the story and themes, including what was removed from the film, as well as plenty of detail about the films production.

The Box: Grounded in Reality (10:42/HD): This featurette is quite interesting as the director discusses the short film and the inspirations behind the themes and content in the film. It's actually quite well put together and while short is worth a look.

Richard Matheson: In His Words (4:54/HD): This short featurette gives us a great little insight into the author of the short story which inspired The Box. It's brief, but a great few minutes with this remarkable author.

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James Marsden at work at NASA.
Music Video Prequels (9:10/HD): Music videos? Really? These aren't your typical music video clips but rather tell some of the back story to the movie around the Langley Air Force Base etc. While clips from the base are playing you do, indeed have some orchestral music from the movie.

Visual Effects Revealed (3:52/HD): Running for a depressingly short 4 minutes this is a great, brief, look at how the visual effects were created for the movie.

The Box is an interesting movie which takes a while to get going, but when it does there's plenty of tension and has you asking some questions about 'what would you do?'. The transfer is good, but not spectacular while there is a smattering of extras to keep fans happy.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Icon Films. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.