This month, Netflix has released what surprisingly has become the biggest film opening ever for the streaming company. Viewed by 45 million in the first week, Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic thriller that stars Sandra Bullock, among many other notable actors. If you have been seeing the memes but not the movie yet, let’s look and see if Bird Box is worth your time. At the very least, you’ll be able to make some sense out of what has gone viral over the last week, and maybe get some laughs out of it along the way!
After witnessing mass suicides in her hometown, a lonely woman joins a group of strangers that are hiding from something dangerous that no one can see or understand. But as tensions rise and events unfold, Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock) must learn that merely surviving is not truly living.
Initially with Bird Box I hesitated to watch it. It just didn’t look all that interesting to me. With the viral sensation it’s become, however, I gave it a go. The story has a clever premise: if you want to be safe and survive, you need to stay inside or shut your eyes. Going outside with eyes open will kill you. The problem is, I didn’t feel I was promised this premise throughout the story very much. This is a thriller on paper, and yet I didn’t sense much suspense or thrill. In screenwriting, a good script will deliver on the promise of showing you the premise. In a way, I somewhat felt cheated of such a promise.
Such storytelling I thought was performed by a solid cast, however. Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Tom Hollander, Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich all, I thought, did what they could with what they were given to give good performances in stressful situations.
But again, the direction and writing of the story I thought didn’t quite live up to the potential it had to be a great film. Many times throughout I felt the story just crawling with too slow of a pace. For really any film, there are sequences in a certain place of the film where tension and conflict should be quickly increasing. Unfortunately, there is no such tension until a climactic scene (you know it when you see it) that occurs late in the film. Additionally, I felt the middle of the story sags a bit, without any strong shift or beat to twist the story in a somewhat new direction.
Bird Box has its strong points. It’s why I don’t think this is necessarily a bad movie. The shot locations in California look beautiful, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network) I thought composed a great score, and the cast give above average to very good performances. The plot structure is even good enough, where I was at least able to follow the story without much confusion or complication. Yet the direction and writing of Bird Box still left me wondering what all the rave was about. Perhaps the source material includes bits that were left out of the film? Either way, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the book, like so many other scenarios, over the movie in this review.
Oh, and if you check it out, make sure to laugh at some great memes afterwards! ; )
Zimm Score: 6/10