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Sandra Bullock tries admirably, fails miserably to make Bird Box worth watching



Sandra Bullock tries admirably fails miserably to make Bird Box worth watching

Netflix latest attempt at a post-apocalyptic thriller, Bird Box, is a mess. This is strange because none of the components individually are bad. The source material is strong. Both directing and writing do their jobs well. The acting is quite good. Yet the whole somehow ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

Spoilers ahead, since I don’t want you to waste your time on it.

It’s a little surprising the movie is hovering in the 60% range on Rotten Tomatoes. There are apparently enough fans of the genre, Netflix, Sandra Bullock, director Susanne Bier, or a combination of the four to drive a majority of reviewers to give it a thumbs up. I’m personally a fan of all four components, yet I couldn’t get myself to like this movie. Maybe the combination set my standards too high, but I don’t think that’s it. The final half hour felt like M. Night Shyamalan rushing to meet a deadline than anything suspenseful or coherent.

I’ve loved Bier’s work in the past. Her directing of The Night Manager was superb. But this attempt seemed to try too hard to be clever. Plenty of potential substance that ended up getting wrapped into characters we didn’t care about long term and a boogeyman we didn’t really fear.

The premise seemed strong, albeit unoriginal. A strange event is happening all across the world where people who see… something… end up instantly wanting to commit suicide in the most gruesome way they can find in that instant. Even though I couldn’t get myself to watch The Happening, the premise here seemed very similar, though with demons or something instead of trees.

The survivors have to keep their eyes blindfolded at all times, which makes their trip to the grocery store quite eventful. All it takes is a quick glimpse of… something… and they’re done. That is, unless they’re already insane, in which case the effect is quite different. Instead of wanting to commit suicide, insane people who see the… something… think that it’s beautiful and travel around trying to force people to open their eyes.

The reason I keep calling it… something… is because we never know what it is. The only partial depiction we get of the creatures is in drawings from one of the aforementioned crazy people, but even the drawings don’t do much to reveal what it actually is. We know it’s… something… because when it surrounds a car that has its windows blacked out, we see its shadow going around and over the vehicle. We also see it rustling shrubbery in the distance as it chases Bullock’s character through the woods.

But the sense of fear never really materializes. We know it can’t actually touch the characters for some reason. Instead, it tries to coax people into opening their eyes through whispers from dead loved ones. Creepy? Perhaps. Scary? No. In the final scenes she does more damage by running through the woods blindfolded than simply walking calmly as she should.

Then, there’s the titular “characters,” the birds in the box. They did nothing. I’m not saying they weren’t as important as they should have been. I’m saying they were completely worthless. They could sense the… somethings… whenever they were close, but this wasn’t used for anything through the entire movie. They didn’t warn the characters as the few times they actually started squawking, the presence of the monsters was already well known. One can say the actually meaning of the title is the ending when the characters end up in a place that has an aviary, but that’s a stretch, not to mention it had no real impact.

This movie was a waste of talent that tries so hard to make the main characters unlikable from the start. Bullock is pregnant but clearly doesn’t want to be, even naming her real and adopted kids “Boy” and “Girl.” Granted, she did this because she didn’t believe in false hope in the post-apocalyptic world in which they were born in which they were born, but we get the feeling from the start she might have named her son “Boy” even if the world didn’t fall apart around them. Then, there’s John Malkovich whose character’s only redemption comes in the form of his death.

Sometimes I watch movies with Rotten Tomato scores in the 50s or 60s in hopes of finding a gem that most critics didn’t understand. This time, it was the opposite. I’m shocked that over 60% of critics actually liked it.




  1. Steven Banas

    December 24, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I felt like the author of this review was on their phone while watching this movie. The intention of the director’s style to me.. was to allow each individual viewer to conjure up their own physical depiction of these terrible beings.

    To say the birds were “worthless” is asinine to say the least. The birds were a form of affirmation of their fears rather than just a warning, though there were plenty of times they acted as the latter as well.

    The aviary served as a beacon of hope for life to continue as normal as realtively possible. The blind almost serve as guardians of this hope and the key to a prosperous community.

    • JD Rucker

      December 26, 2018 at 3:20 am

      I personally thought it was pretty good. I didn’t mind not seeing the monsters.

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Entertainment and Sports

Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT



Harden scores 48 points Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.

Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.

The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.

Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.

Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.

“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”

Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.

Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.

It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.

Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”

Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.

Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.

Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.

Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.

“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”

The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.

They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.

Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.

Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.

Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.

“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”


Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.

Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.


D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”


Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.

Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.


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Entertainment and Sports

‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’



Unsolved Mysteries is coming back only Stranger

Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.

Netflix Reboots ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ With ‘Stranger Things’ Shawn Levy series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.

The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.

My Take

This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.

Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.

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Entertainment and Sports

Trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we don’t



Trailer for John Wick Chapter 3 - Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we dont

Fans of action movies have been foaming at the mouth over the John Wick series since it was launched in 2014. The first movie was amazing, scoring an uncanny 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, a rarity for action flicks. The sequel in 2017 was even better, scoring an 89% and breaking from the Hollywood tradition of completely botching things the second time around.

As the series reaches its cinematic climax, hopes are high that the long journey of the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, will be the exception to the rule by delivering on three great movies. Few series have been able to do this, especially in the action genre. One can argue the Mission ImpossibleFast and Furious, and James Bond series were able to do it, but none of them did it consecutively. There were stinkers mixed in.

Lord of the Rings was a fantasy series with action while the original Star Wars trilogy did science fiction action like no other. Can John Wick be the first purely action trilogy to pull the trifecta?

If the trailer is any indicator, yes. Yes they can.

It has motorcycle sword fights. There’s a giant in the mix. We even get to see gun play on horseback. Throw in Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and the amazing supporting cast that has returned and suddenly there’s hope that the impossible can happen. They might be able to go from great to greater to greatest. Thankfully, this is a rare “good” trailer that gives us just enough information to know where we stand in the series but does’t have real spoilers that ruin the whole thing.

It’s noteworthy that this series has been one continuous series of events. Chapter 2 picked up shortly after the first, while Chapter 3 is an immediate continuation from Chapter 2.

The subtitle of the film, “Parabellum,” is Latin for “prepare for war.” That may not be possible since nothing can prepare fans to wait for it to come out, but we’re almost there. The film hits theaters on May 17.

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