Blu-ray Review: THE BOX
Blu-ray Rating: 7/10
Writer/director Richard Kelly grabbed many fans with his twisted tale of teenage angst with a heavy dose of sci-fi elements, DONNIE DARKO. The second feature from Kelly was SOUTHLAND TALES, which irriatated more than it wowed and received a lot of negative criticism. Kelly didn't get as annoyingly scattered brain with his third and latest feature, THE BOX, as he did with SOUTHLAND TALES, but his imagination and vision is a little too wild and loose with the film.
Kelly loves to take chances. You could say he took many ill-conceived ones with SOUTHLAND TALES, and he also does this to a much lesser extent (but still with damaging effect) in THE BOX. Kelly's style might be infuriating, but it also makes him a filmmaker that peaks your curiosity. And he's certainly a director you want to hear from him from in regards to his films and the choices behind them. The Blu-ray for THE BOX does a have satisfyingly strong Kelly presence on it with director's commentary and a feature about a specific event that inspired Kelly with THE BOX, and enough other cool features that make it a fine product.
Richard Kelly appears on THE BOX Blu-ray in one of the very best ways to understand a director's purpose and influences behind his work: a director's commentary. Kelly touches on the reason for certain key decisions in his BOX commentary and offers naturally interesting information for fans or people trying to fully understand THE BOX. However, a subtly fascinating aspect of the commentary is how Kelly seemingly unintentionally, makes it clear that the film is written in a way that is open to various interpretations, often mentioning that you could read a certain moment or scene in different ways. He mentions possiblites for certain scenes but does not say or suggest that you interpret them the same way. Kelly's commentary considerably adds to your understanding of THE BOX, displaying how the film has clear influences and a certain direction, but also being quite open as well.
THE BOX: Grounded in Reality is a feature that examines fascinating background information. The feature discusses how Kelly based the main characters played by James Marsden and Cameron Diaz on his parents and inserted a very significant event between his parents into the film in hopes of adding emotional depth. It is a smart move to give such a critical influence on THE BOX its own feature, and it is done well with Kelly and both his parents reflecting on the event and the great influence it had on Kelly's work.
THE BOX also acknowledges it's original source, the short story by Richard Matheson, with Richard Matheson: In His Own Words. This feature provides a interview with the author that includes Matheson talking about how he came up with the idea for the story that inspired THE BOX. This is a fairly brief extra, but with some worthwhile information, and it is nice that the source material (even though Kelly does take the story much further than the book does) gets a nod from the film it influenced
The Blu-ray also contains an appreciatively uncommon and inventive feature in Music Video Prequels: short, well-edited themed videos that offer some more back story on THE BOX with nicely done moody visuals and music.
The final feature Visual Effects Revealed does not have a tricky or misleading title. This feature shows you how three of his films were created, and also includes the facial disfigurement of Frank Langella's character who is missing a large portion of the left side of his face. You also get a peek at how the FX team exceptionally recreated 1970s Virginia using CGI. The effects are incredibly strong in THE BOX, and this feature demonstrates the tremendous job done by the FX team for THE BOX, especially with how well they did the film's setting (it is very difficult to even notice that it is primarily special effects).
If you are interested about Richard Kelly as a filmmaker then you should happy with the amount of Kelly that is offered up in the Blu-ray of his third feature. Plus, bonus features without the director are worth checking out as well. The extra material on THE BOX Blu-ray does not feel like after thought, it offers what you like to see in regards to Blu-rays and DVDs, covering several different aspects of the film including: the creation, influences, and technical aspects.
THE BOX is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and download February 23rd.