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Blu-ray Review: The Box

Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010 9:39 PM. Last Updated on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 2:51 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkThe Box
Blu-ray
Warner Home Video
116 Minutes

List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

This movie is also available from Amazon on DVD and Video on Demand.

Available 2/23/2010

Rated PG-13

Click here for additional movie details, including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

  TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
HD Video
1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 2.40:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital
DTS Digital
SDDS

DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Other:  

Movie: BD-25 (x1) BD-MV
DVD/Digital Copy: DVD

Disc Contents

  • Upfront Ads
    • Blu-ray Promo (0:54 HD, 2ch) - skippable
    • Sherlock Holmes Trailer (2:17 HD, 2ch)
  • Movie
  • Extras (2ch VC-1 HD)
    • Commentary with director Richard Kelly
    • The Box: Grounded in Reality (10:42)
    • Richard Matheson: In His Own Words (4:54)
    • Visual Effects Revealed (3:55)
    • Music Video Prequels (9:14)

About the Movie

Push a red button on a little black box, get a million bucks cash. Just like that, all of Norma (Diaz) and Arthur Lewis' (Marsden) financial problems will be over. But there's a catch, according to the strange visitor (Lagella) who placed the box on the couple's doorstep. Someone, somewhere -- someone they don't know -- will die. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple confronted by agonizing temptation yet unaware they're already part of an orchestrated an -- for them and us -- mind-blowing chain of events.

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

I thought the picture quality was acceptable. I didn't notice any artifacts that sometimes come from BD-25 discs, where the compression knob can often be turned a little too far in the pursuit of saving space.

The movie has this 70's drab look to it, which I'm sure was intentional, but it also makes it hard to be very critical of the color aspects of the image. I'll assume that this was the look that the director and cinematographer were after.

How Does it Sound?

Maybe in keeping with the 70's feel that the movie's video had, the audio is less than impressive, even during the special effects sequences, where the sound mixers could have had some fun without distracting from the movie. Dialog was always understandable and nothing seemed out of place while watching the movie.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that none are included here. Being able to watch the trailer helps one to appreciate how the movie was marketed during its theatrical release, and it's unfortunate when such a simple and obvious extra is not included.

The Box: Grounded in Reality and Richard Matheson: In His Own Words are interesting enough in their own right, but unless you are a Richard Kelly or Richard Matheson fan, these probably won't hold your interest for long.

Visual Effects Revealed is a mildly interesting special effects documentary short on how Frank Langella's face was digitally altered to cause his appearance in the movie. The Music Video Prequels are video shots set to some haunting music, which serve more to showcase the latter than anything.

Digital Copy

There is a second disc which contains the DVD version of the movie as well as a Digital Copy. The inclusion of a DVD version of a movie in the Blu-ray package is something that we encourage more studios to do with their releases. It provides an additional level of value to the buying consumer by giving them the ability to play the movie in other rooms/vehicles where a Blu-ray player does not yet reside. I did not view the DVD, so I cannot judge its video or audio quality.

Fans of the movie might enjoy the digital copy, as it would allow you to download the movie and enjoy it many times on your portable device. By inserting the disc into a Windows PC or Mac, you can obtain a digital copy of the movie for playback on your PSP, PC, Mac, or iPod. I didn't explore this option, so I can't comment on the picture or sound quality. The documentation says that the Digital Copy must be redeemed by 2/22/2011.

Other Aspects

This disc is BD-MV formatted, and as such, our PlayStation 3 was able to support auto-resuming the movie, even after the disc is ejected. Most current Blu-ray players will be able to do so as well, as did the Oppo BD-83 that we had in for review. Resuming playback is one of the biggest usability problems with the Blu-ray format that studios need to recognize and support, so it's good to see more studios making this possible, either through the format they use (BDMV) or through programming (BD-J). Bookmarking is not supported.

Conclusion

The Box is an interesting premise, but I found the movie to be way too long and introducing too many concepts to hold my interest. It is a victim of explaining too much and therefore spoiling any kind of mystery that was built up about this man and his box, but then it introduces so many other ideas through long drawn-out sequences that are never really resolved. In the end, I just felt frustrated rather than intrigued.

If you count yourself as a fan of the movie, this package is worth buying, however. The inclusion of the DVD version of the movie as well as the digital copy gives the purchase additional value that is not found in other titles. Kudos to Warner Bros. for producing such a well-rounded set!

One final thought: We're several years into the Blu-ray release market, and we're still having to put up with up-front Blu-ray promotional video clips. These have always been odd, considering if you've purchased the Blu-ray copy of the movie, aren't you aware of the fact that Blu-ray is better than DVD? Let's end these senseless promos, OK?

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


Check Prices on Amazon.com

A copy of this title was provided at no cost by the movie studio/distributor for the purpose of this review. No expectation of the results of this review were set as a condition of receiving the item.



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