A Conversation With Aaron and Elaine Vail
R (PG-13 with VidAngel) | 2h 4min
Director: Susanne Bier
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson
This is actually a two-part review. We haven’t watched an R rated movie in more than 22 years. It’s a personal preference and we know we’re in the minority. VidAngel (vidangel.com) is a streaming service that allows users to filter out most of the garbage in movies and TV shows. For example, there 29 filters for the first episode of The Office (US) and you can choose the level of filtering you want. With that in mind, we decided to give Bird Box a PG-13 rating and cut out all the gore, nudity, and bad language (you can even choose “blasphemy” in the filter checklist and it removes every time someone takes the Lord’s name in vain). It worked very well and at $10 a month, it’s not breaking my bank. You’ll need to plug in your Amazon Prime and/or Netflix accounts to get all the shows you like without all the excessive junk. Fair warning, though – many titles are blocked due to “creative rights” lawsuits.
That being said, Bird Box takes place in today’s world. For some unknown reason, people are committing suicide by the thousands. It starts in Russia and spreads across the world in a matter of days. Anyone who looks at the mysterious monsters instantly goes insane and kills themselves. How do you survive? Don’t open your eyes.
Aaron: I like a good thriller. This was kind of right up my alley. I don’t like movies that over-explain all the details. The mystery of the unknown plays a big part in this movie and I enjoyed that. We never see the monsters. We never know where they actually came from or if they want anything. It’s just a movie about how do we stay alive.
Elaine: So, we just weren’t interested in anything playing at the theater. And it didn’t seem right to review an old movie from our library. So, our Director of Content Development, Nicole LaBosco, suggested we pick a Netflix original that just came out. She suggested something much cuter (Pick of the Litter, a movie about puppies being trained to be service dogs), but Aaron wasn’t interested. I have been a huge Sandra Bullock fan my whole life. And I was puzzled by the Internet reactions to Bird Box that seemed evenly split down the middle with nothing in between – either they hated it or were obsessed with it. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
A: The story was pretty good. The only character I didn’t like at all was the store employee who starts monologuing all these details about the end of days because he happens to be writing a book. I felt that was overly cliche and could have been removed because it didn’t really add to the story.
E: Many are upset that there was no suspense. The way the movie is sequenced, we see Bullock’s character in the present, alone, with two kids, getting ready for a dangerous trip. Within a few minutes, we are taken back five years. After chaos breaks loose, Bullock takes refuge with a core group of about eight other characters. Clearly, none of them survive since we have already seen Bullock on her own with the two kids, knowing she was only expecting one baby and a woman in the core group was expecting the same time as her. This, actually, did not bother me one bit. I’m one of those weirdos who will read the last page of the book series just to make sure my favorite character is still alive at the end. I was just fine with the intrigue of how each character dies off and why. I liked the movie for the most part. But, I did expect a few questions to get resolved before it ended, like, what was the monster’s objective? It felt like a cross between the series Lost and The Walking Dead – a post-apocalyptic world with a “smoke monster” who we never truly figure out what it is or how it works or what it wants.
A: This isn’t a perfect movie by any means. Unlike the “normal” population who become insane when they see the monsters, those who were already insane or mentally ill before the incident and then see the monsters become “sane,” but are turned into recruiters for the mysterious entity. What? Why? And the survivors make supply trips and drive down the street and manage to stay on the street – while blindfolded. Sure, GPS, but still. Sandra runs through the forest with two kids in her arms and trips only once, stays on the path and gets right to the door they need to … all while blindfolded in unknown territory? I don’t think so. And they have to travel 48 hours down a river blindfolded … but the initial radio signal reaching out to them was via walkie talkie at that distance? … Just not happening in the real world.
E: Yea, I have no problem accepting the “rules” of fictional worlds, but they need to be believable. The whole point of post-apocalyptic shows, what makes them so interesting, is watching how people creatively survive without modern technology or civilized organization … but they still have to obey the laws of physics or I am pulled out of the story and can’t get past the far-fetched concepts they hope we’ll just ignore.
A: With all the bad and strange things, I still really enjoyed this movie somehow. Not sure I would watch it again, and I’m definitely not doing any Bird Box challenges. I’m actually more impressed with VidAngel’s filtering system. Now I can watch Wolf of Wallstreet and cut out all 506 F-bombs (every 2.61 seconds on average) and turn it into a silent movie.
E: Actually laughing out loud – a silent movie! Ha!