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Review: "Bird Box" on Netflix

by Eric Blume

The new limited-theatrical-release / now-on-Netflix movie Bird Box is a puzzlement. It’s a post-apocalypse thriller directed by Oscar and Emmy-winner Susanne Bier, and stars Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Jackie Weaver, and Trevante Rhodes as survivors of a world-ending crisis.  A lot of talented people are involved in this film, so it’s a true curiosity that the whole thing ends up a gigantic shrug.

The details of this apocalypse are a little murky, but it goes something like this. Scary creatures (which we never see) are appearing around the globe, and they tap into your deepest fears somehow(?), and cause you to immediately commit suicide...

I think we're clear

Bullock joins a house full of random strangers, and they hole themselves indoors and have to wear blindfolds if they go out so they can’t see anything. The less time spent on the logic of this set-up the better, because it sure is a dumb premise.  The movie spends a fair amount of its screen time with people putting on and taking off bandanas or diving under blankets, neither act being cinematic magic.

It’s kind of like A Quiet Place, but instead of not being able to make noise, you’re not allowed to see.  But then Bird Box also takes elements from The River Wild, Night of the Living Dead, and countless other better movies, throws them in a blender, and just pours out whatever is left.  

If this thing gets any worse you're going to want to be off the roads and on a horse, trust me."

Bier seriously screws up the first half hour of this picture:  the scale of the horror is actually colossal, but it plays out with TV-movie pacing and energy.  Granted, true human panic is one of the hardest things to realistically portray (Paul Greengrass did it horrifically well in United 93), but Bier’s set-up scenes feel forced and fall flat.  Then the subsequent scenes, which introduce the characters, continue this tone-deaf take.  The world is ending, and nobody can get in touch with their loved ones, but the dialogue and acting remains light and sometimes comedic?  Nothing ever seems at stake, when of course the stakes couldn’t actually be higher. The film takes an even more preposterous turn later with the introduction of a new intruder played by Tom Hollander (who, to his credit, brings some campy zing to the proceedings).  

Bier does get some juice going in the second hour of the picture, but it’s too little too late.  Any future where you’re left alone in the world with only Trevante Rhodes can’t be all bad but Bird Box feels overstuffed, undernourished, and too often, just plain silly.

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Reader Comments (7)

How is the score music by Trent and Atticus?

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Thank you...I completely zoned out within 30 mins. A dud...and to think, for some millennials this is their introduction to Sandy Bullock...

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghan McQ

Poor Sandra being dumped DTV as it used to be known.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Considering misfires like Bird Box, Serena and Things We Lost in the Fire, Susanne Bier always strikes me as a questionable director, her Emmy and Oscar notwithstanding. It's a shame.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Sandra Bullock’s cosmetic surgery, and inability to register emotion on her face, is heartbreaking. In the the scenes where she’s pregnant and has a cropped heaircut, she uncannily resembled Michael Jackson. I Googled it, and, sure enough, it’s already a meme. (Jane Fonda would scold me for this; apparently, we’re all supposed to pretend like we don’t see it.)

The movie sucked. I feel sorry for John Malkovich and Jackie Weaver for their involvement.

December 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Crowe

I actually found it entertaining. It's derivative, of course, but not ineffective. It's surely better than Serena and several other Netflix originals (ok, not so difficult in both cases). Besides Bullock and Rhodes have chemistry

December 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermirko

Eoghan McQ

How old do you think millennial are?

Most are in their 30s and late 20s. I’m 34.

You mean generation Z I.e. teens and early twenties.

December 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

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