Cinemaster Score: 6.8/10
When looking at Bird Box as a whole, there’s a lot left to be desired. Of the few things Bird Box did well, the casting decisions are pretty high up there. Everyone connects as their characters – from John Malkovich to Lil Rel Howery. Bird Box also had a conceptual idea that captured the attention of audiences and had good source material to work off of. Netflix’s original film was an enjoyable watch, too – helping the streaming network prove itself as a movie producer. But the film doesn’t keep stable as it has a rough script to listen to with the combination of bland characters. Its success is very debatable due to its popularity but limited impactful scenes. The greatness (or lack thereof) truly lies in the eyes of its beholder.
Acting; Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich are probably the best actors in Bird Box, putting well-developed emotion into each scene. Malkovich in particular is a complex and multilayered character who is initially annoying, but grows quickly thanks to his charmingly pessimistic worldview. The remaining cast does hold their own but end up a little ham-fisted compared to the more experienced actors. There are no Oscar-worthy performances but the characters are memorable nonetheless thanks to the acting (good or bad) all around. The only issue with the acting is that certain characters are very cliché and easy to predict, making for some boring exchanges at times. Bird Box’s main draw is its premise, but the acting is a nice accompaniment.
Script; The script for Bird Box is definitely one of it’s worse pieces. It brings the film down a little as a whole. The choice of wording is what really takes away from it. There are just a few too many jokes about horses that don’t land mixed in with an extremely negative commentary towards society. As well as having a more cynical view on life – with her unsettling statements on her pregnancy topping the proverbial cake – than its source material. The standpoint of who is supposed to be the protagonist actually keeps the audience from really connecting to her. There are a plethora of moments in Bird Box in which the insanity of the “enlightened” speak of the monsters like they’re gods – adding a unique and interesting view on the situation. Yes, there are happier scenes with lines that work. But when it’s all said and done, Bird Box’s script is a very weak point.
Characters; Each of the characters in Bird Box are uniquely generic. All of them fit a fairly well-known thriller or horror character trope. Though each does have their own twist in the roles. Despite that, they aren’t much more interesting as characters and few of them are very likable either. Tom and the children are a seldom reprieve from the rest – providing positivity to the audience. There is a very mixed message from Bird Box with it verbally pushing the theme of connection while in action it doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go. In hindsight it’s unfortunate that the characters don’t stand out much at all from those in any other post-apocalyptic films.
Direction; Susanne Bier (Director), is the first female director to win a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, an Emmy, and a European Film Award all together. Yet her skill feels distinctly amateur in Bird Box, with some very simplistic character emotions and dialogue delivery. Especially in scenes with minor characters, where what they say is lacking the right emotion in the moment. Even more experienced actors such as Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich seem like they are improvising the majority of their lines – and not in a beneficial way. Sadly, the directing in Bird Box is rather mediocre.
Story; The premise of Bird Box is perhaps its most enticing feature, with its characters having to use blindfolds and birds to traverse their environment. Some may label it as a knockoff of A Quiet Place with its similar hook of limiting the senses, but Bird Box is a relatively effective suspense thriller. The story starts off quickly and jumps through different moments in time, which at first is disorienting but pays off nicely in the end. It may lack in complexity but makes up for it with some truly surprising twists. One of which was the absence of the monsters appearance, which turned off many viewers and may even detract from your experience. Bird Box’s plot is simplistically straightforward with little room for innovation, but makes for some genuine suspense and enjoyment.
Enjoyment; Bird Box is an enjoyable movie to watch if you have free time. Although it isn’t really the kind of movie you should set aside time for with high expectations. It can be fun so that you can keep up with its current cultural influences that so many people join in to take part in or laugh at. The addition of being in on a trend is fulfilling if you care about that. But the movie itself is enjoyable only because of its reminiscence to most post-apocalyptic films we know and love. The tone is a little too negative at times – in the end though, the positive aspects related to enjoyment outweigh the negativity.
David: “I watched Bird Box a while after most people so that I could watch it with someone who had just finished the book. The afore-mentioned delay in watching it – combined with Netflix’s over-adviretisemnt of it pre-release – gave me greater expectations. But what I got was a high-class, B-grade movie. Still, it’s a good film to watch if you’re bored with free time.”
JP: “Bird Box, to me, was a movie that was a bit better than the usual made for T.V. production. It had some shining moments but it ultimately fell flat in some key areas. It was an enjoyable trend at the time but in the long run I doubt many will remember it.”