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Is ‘Bird Box’ worth the hype?

Sunday January 6 2019

Bird Box is a horror story set in a post-apocalyptic world, haunted by beings that cause psychotic behaviour.

Bird Box is a horror story set in a post-apocalyptic world, haunted by beings that cause psychotic behaviour. PHOTO| FILE 

HILLARY KIMUYU
By HILLARY KIMUYU
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Every week, new original films debut on Netflix and other streaming services, often to much less fanfare than their big-screen counterparts.

In a post-apocalyptic world, haunted by beings that cause psychotic behaviour in nearly anyone who looks at them, Mallory (Sandra Bullock) tries to protect two small children while traveling to what she hopes is a safe colony.

Bird Box is a horror story about a mysterious phenomenon that causes humans to spontaneously take their own lives after glimpsing strange creatures that have appeared out of nowhere.

That’s really all you need to know about the plot heading into the film, as the nature of the mystery is best left unknown. But if you’ve read the book it’s based on, written by Josh Malerman, then you’re already armed with plenty of knowledge about where things are headed.

And yet, like most adaptations, things get shifted around or completely lost in translation from text to screen. The film follows the same basic structure as the book, but certain characters, plot elements, and, most notably, the ending are reconfigured.

Bird Box opens with single mom Mallory, who is first seen coaching the two 5-year-olds in her charge (Julian Edwards and Vivien Lyra Blair) on how to survive. “If you look, you will die,” Mallory orders. The children stare back in silent fear.

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She’s spent five years surviving this plague-beast-Armageddon, most of them trapped in this house. She’s outlasted the rest of her random roommates, a grab-bag of people who, like her, blundered into the first open door the morning most of the planet got massacred.

Now, she has to shepherd these kids out of their home, into a rowboat, and down a dangerous river – blindfolded. For days. Sighs Mallory: “It’s going to feel like it’s going on for a long time.”

It’s not a bad thing in itself to give viewers what they want. But Bird Box doesn’t deliver beyond ticking the boxes.

As Emily Yoshida noted at Vulture, it may not have actually been written by an algorithm, but it seems like it was. There are a few positive points. Bullock and Rhodes in particular deliver on their performances. Malerman’s source material provides some arresting moments of tension.

From start to finish, though, Bird Box feels like it was hastily written, shot, edited, and rushed out for the holiday season. It may prove useful at pumping up Netflix’s numbers, but as a movie, it’s a lot less effective.

It cuts back and forth between that journey and the period five years prior, when bizarre apocalyptic horror was unleashed across the globe with the arrival of the beings. Who they are and what they want is never fully explained. The movie is more interested in its characters’ reactions to the horrors of their world than it is in explaining exactly what brought them about.

The film boasts a star-studded cast, including Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, Tom Hollander, and more. Most of them play characters who become trapped in a house together while trying to outrun the carnage taking place outside.

Lots of people watched the movie, just as Netflix knew they would despite some tense moments, this apocalyptic shocker is a disappointingly clunky waste of a star-studded cast.

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‘Black Monday’ is a comedy as amoral as its characters

Don Cheadle, Regina Hall and Andrew Rannells star in a Wolf of Wall Street sequel, "Black Monday"which takes us back to October 19, 1987, aka Black Monday, the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history. To this day, no one knows who caused it – until now. Seth Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg serve as executive producers.

Through the lives of Rod “The Jammer” Jaminski (Don Cheadle), who was the self-made head of the financial firm where trading prodigy Blair Shmerman (Andrew Rannells) and the first female head trader Dawn Darcy (Regina Hall) works at.

A half-hour dark comedy about greed and power and excess is not necessarily something new or particularly original in today’s television landscape, so the series smartly gave itself a couple of advantages.

One of those advantages comes in form of Cheadle, who makes his return to television after spending the past few years playing with Tony Stark and the “Avengers”, and not too long after his previous Showtime series, “House of Lies”, ended in 2016.

The other advantage “Black Monday” the creators gave their story of Wall Street shenanigans is that of its period setting late ’80s New York City and a premise built around providing an answer to how the infamous stock market crash happened and who, exactly, was behind the event.

For a series that included as much cocaine as it did in its previews, it will come as no surprise that “Black Monday” doesn’t exactly play its cards close to its vest when it comes to the mystery of who caused Black Monday.

The series begins with a title card explaining what Black Monday was (you know, for all those people who think 2002 is the beginning of time), which certainly helps set the stage for a red stretch Lamborghini limousine to arrive on the scene, weaving its way through the trash-strewn streets of NYC.

It’s a sharp vision of tacky overabundance, one that is punctuated by a body dropping through the roof of the limo from some great height. Though the identity of the jumper is obscured, there are a number of clues present: a tie pin, a watch, a suit. It could be Cheadle’s Maurice Monroe, or it could be Andrew Rannells’s Blair Pfaff.

It is a comedy as amoral as its characters, and after a while, the laughs begin to stick in the throat.

The series walks a fine line with regard to its depiction of the social norms in ‘80s, especially as they pertain to traders on Wall Street, and what audiences of 2018 and 2019 may be looking for in their escapism. That lends the series a caper-like quality, one that leavens things considerably, and, when coupled with a frenetic performance by Cheadle and Hall’s dynamism, makes for a series with some potential to be more than just a coke-fueled ride through the "Greed is good" era.

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Popular TV shows that are coming to an end this year

Quite a few TV shows will be ending in 2019, including several long-running programs that have been on the air since the start of the decade.

While many of those shows will completely end, some of them will expand into franchises and see their stories continue with prequels or spinoffs, which is another trend in Hollywood that's starting to become more prevalent on television. Shows like “Game of Thrones”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “Homeland”, “Orange Is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin” hopefully these shows will answer lingering questions and offer satisfying conclusions to fan.

"Homeland"

Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin have starred in Showtime's award-winning spy drama and thriller, “Homeland”, ever since it premiered in 2011.

While Damian Lewis' former prisoner-of-war Nicholas Brody was the focus of the show's first few seasons, it managed to expand beyond that narrative and take on various aspects of the intelligence community in the United States. And now it's all coming to an end with and wrapping up Carrie Mathison's story.


"Modern Family"

Among the many sitcoms on television, “Modern Family” is a series consisting of an ensemble cast that revolves around three growing families and is arguably one of the industry's best that's currently on the air.

The multi-award-winning comedy series first aired in 2009 is in the middle of airing its 10th and final season, which already resulted in one death. At the moment, there's no plan to extend the series beyond the current season.


"Gotham"

The idea of a TV show that takes place in Gotham City and features Bruce Wayne as a kid with no promise of him ever actually becoming Batman during the course of the show seemed like a strange one when it first premiered.

Despite this, the series, which has focused on a young Jim Gordon and the origin stories of many of Batman's most iconic villains, has proven popular enough to last five seasons. While there was some question as to whether the show would end after an unresolved season four finale, Fox decided to give the show a fifth and finale season with which to wrap up its various plot threads.

"Orange Is the New Black"

The show has followed the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary and beyond for six seasons now. It has been one of Netflix's most-watched and most-acclaimed shows, and one of the first Netflix Originals or streaming-specific shows in general to draw the kind of critical praise that top-tier terrestrial television shows do.

At one time, Netflix had all the confidence in the world in OITNB before the fourth season even premiered, it was renewed for its fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons in one fell swoop. It came as somewhat of a surprise when it was announced a couple of months back that season seven would indeed be the show's last.


"The Big Bang Theory"

Typically, sitcoms that are still around into double-digit seasons are kind of limping along to their inevitable finale. That hasn't been the case with “The Big Bang Theory”, which remains a ratings juggernaut as it closes in on setting the new record for longest-running multi-camera comedy of all time.

It was decided that the show's 12th season would be its last following the announcement that Jim Parsons the award-winning actor behind Sheldon Cooper was leaving the show after season twelve. Rather than attempt a Sheldon-free show, it was decided to just call it a day when Parson does.

"Game of Thrones"

This is one of the most popular dramas on television, and its eight-season story arc, most of which has been centered on a new king or queen taking the Iron Throne, will ultimately end sometime in the first half of 2019.

Of course, while this is the end of the main Game of Thrones story taken from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series, the “Game of Thrones” franchise will continue with an untitled prequel, which is reportedly set to debut sometime in 2020.

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