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

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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.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Steven Banas

    December 24, 2018 at 11:12 am

    SPOILERS:
    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.

  2. Christy Tian

    January 31, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Whelp this is a surefire way to make sure I never bother with this site for reviews of anything. I didn’t like it either, but its possible to not like something and not be a miserable person about it. This “review” is terrible.

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Entertainment and Sports

Interview with Christopher Shaw

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Interview with Christopher Shaw

I was given the opportunity to interview Christopher Shaw. He is the director of the upcoming movie, Church PeopleChurch People is “romantic comedy satire” about a celebrity youth pastor caught up in the marketing machine of his mega church. In the interview, Christopher discusses the redemptive story arc involving what is a sad reality within churches today.

But the journey leading up to this movie was no cakewalk. Christopher’s start came from making Youtube videos. He then built a network of Christian comedians on Facebook, most notably the relationship between he and Thor Ramsay, the writer and star of Church People. They finally began their working relationship at the 168 Film Festival back in 2010. During this festival, they produced the short Skip Listening in a short period of time, the entire process taking no more than 18 days. Skip Listening won accolades at the festival and so the two have continued working together ever since.

As a Director, Christopher appreciates a high quality film. This was his critique of faith based movies, however he emphasized his optimism for how much the category has improved over the years. Passion of the Christ, he says was a breakthrough in closing this disparity. Since then, a number of faith-based films have proven to be remarkable returns on investment. As I pointed out in the interview, Christian comedy, remains rather untapped in its potential, which is a reason I sought to interview someone behind Church People.

Because this interview was for Startup Christ Presents, one of the goals of the interview is to tap their entrepreneurial wisdom. Christopher was not lacking for advice to give. The theme of the advice can be summarized by saying unless God is saying otherwise, start making content. Technology has increased the ease of entrance with film and distribution of content.

These are some of the highlights from the interview. You can watch, or rather listen, on youtube, and if you feel so inclined, subscribe to Christianity Visualized, a new channel I am working on. More to come on that later.

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Conspiracy Theory

No, Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

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No Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

A week ago, HBO dropped the long awaited and highly anticipated Game of Thrones final season trailer. This take may be late take, but oft times, I believe in letting the hot takes simmer down so the voices who aren’t seeking quick views for their lackluster analysis stand out. Now a lot of fan accounts on Youtube have boasted finding all these “easter eggs” in the trailer that just are not there. Particularly a lot of people are being misled by the theory that the legendary Symeon Star-Eyed is the Night King. The theory has the vote of confidence from Cosmo and its readers.

This theory existed on Reddit long before the trailer dropped. It goes so far to suggest that Symeon Star-Eyes was perhaps a Stark, but definitely from the North because the “North would want their own hero amongst the greatest heroes in Westeros history.” There is no evidence to suggest why Brandon the Builder, Breaker, Shipwright, and Burner aren’t sufficient legends. Knighthood is tied to the Seven, so it is unlikely he was from the North… But I need to slow myself down. The Game of Thrones trailer featured a star-eyed Night King reigniting this theory.

image

The seven pointed star is symbolic of the Faith of the Seven, the religion of the Andals, which would make, according to this theory, the Night King an Andal in origin. The belief that the Night King is the Andal Symeon Star-Eyes, a fabled knight from the Age of Heroes, is self defeating. Let’s first address the proposed evidence.

“There was a knight once who couldn’t see,” Bran said stubbornly, as Ser Rodrik went on below. “Old Nan told me about him. He had a long staff with blades at both ends and he could spin it in his hands and chop two men at once.”

“Symeon Star-Eyes,” Luwin said as he marked numbers in a book. “When he lost his eyes, he put star sapphires in the empty sockets, or so the singers claim. Bran, that is only a story, like the tales of Florian the Fool. A fable from the Age of Heroes.”

AGOT Bran VII 

Now, it’s important to note that White Walkers, which are referred to as Others, have not directly appeared in the books. In the lore, the Others are always depicted as having blue eyes, like when the when the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (allegedly) had sex with one.

“A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well. He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will.”

AGOT Bran IV

That man was known as the Night’s King, which is a far more plausible than Symeon Star-Eyes for being the Night King. This of course would only be true if the Night King was not an original amongst the Others. For this is generations after the Others were defeated, hence why there is a Night’s Watch. The idea that the Others have changed leadership is a major supposition not supported by either canon material or even the show who depict neither a queen nor power struggle which would likely still remain if an Other form of Symeon Star-Eyes usurped power to declare himself Night King.

And that is the less obvious reason why this fan theory is the Fake News of Game of Thrones theories. The most pressingly clear reason is that there were no Andals during the Long Night. The Andal Invasion did not occur until well into the Age of Heroes. The argument I’ve seen in response to this pressingly obvious fact is that history in Game of Thrones is unreliable. George RR Martin is intentional about using non-reliable narrators as well as writing a history of Westeros that is entirely contingent upon the interpretation of its multiple writers. Therefore the exact timing of the arrival of the Andals is subject to debate. This is all true. However, there is nothing to suggest that the Andals invaded during the Dawn Age. The Age of Heroes began after peace was made with the Children of the Forrest, as explained in the show in season one.

The First Men, who are the other predominant race in Westeros have the Others embedded in their culture, while the Andals generally believe the Others to be no more real than grumpkins and snarks. By the time the Andals arrived in Westeros, we are well into the Age of Heroes. Let’s go into more detail. When the Andals arrived they carved runes of seven pointed stars and brought their faith with them. Their invasion was repelled by the Stark Kings of Winter. Thus, the North remained primarily First Men and worshiped the old gods. House Stark remembers the Others, hence Winter is Coming. The Arryns of the Vale were established towards the very beginning of this time, for the Vale is the nearest landing spot. House Arryn is one of the oldest and purest of the Andal houses, until the current storyline. The Long Night is not in their culture. Lann the Clever had already taken Casterly Rock and established House Lannister. House Lannister bares a maternal lineage to Lann the Clever, a First Man, and has taken on an Andal line. There are FOUR Lannister POV characters. None of them reference their ancestors fighting Others. As you can see, the Andal houses did not experience the Long Night, meaning they Others invaded long before they arrived. So once again, how can Symeon Star-Eyes be the Night King.

Explanation

There are two reasons why the Night King’s, and by extension all Others’ eyes would be shaped as a seven-pointed star. The first is that a dragon must have three heads and a star must have seven points. This is to say that HBO is blowing smoke up people’s asses. The second is that the Children of the Forrest created an abomination to the old gods, whom they worship along with the First Men. This abomination bore resemblance to the faith of the seven, much like how the god Baal resembles numerous other false gods. As for me, I believe the former because the show-runners are not that intricate.

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Conspiracy Theory

Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

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Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

Warning: Adult language and some adult content.

The folks over at Dust have mastered the art of the short science fiction film. Their take on an authoritarian future is no exception and strikes a little too close to home for conservatives.

Imagine if nanotechnology became so advanced that it could do nearly anything to a person even at the genetic level. New hair color? No problem. Longer life? Done. Special “powers”? Sure.

What if the government could track our incapacitate anyone remotely thanks to this nanotechnology? In the scenario detailed in this short film, the government has decided to repeal the 2nd Amendment since there’s apparently no need for an armed citizenry in such a society.

For the rest, you’ll just have to watch the video. It’s 14 minutes yet terrifying nonetheless.

The combination of advancing technologies and authoritarianism in Washington DC could make for a truly horrifying future if we’re not careful. When they say something is being done to improve the collective, be skeptical.

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