April 2, 2019 The Man with the Magic Box (Movie Review)
While dystopias are often thought of as being more space-aged and advanced, the actual attempts to bring about their existence has very much been threaded into the fabric that holds together this world’s long and incredible history. Nazi Germany was a dystopia that was disguised as an initiative to create a utopia; while Soviet Russia experienced its own dystopian nightmare under a similarly misguided belief that it was already a utopia, and thus as a result, allowed serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, to murder and mutilate more than 50 women and children over the course of 12 years. It was the Soviets’ ignorance and refusal to acknowledge the notion that serial killers were, in fact, not just a U.S. phenomenon, but actually occurred and operated all over the world.
So, although dystopian societies are cinematically featured in a more futuristic capacity, they are merely just recurring reflections of previous historical attempts and their following failures once used to try and establish an impractical and unattainable standard of societal/political perfectionism. With that being said, the Polish Orwellian Sci-Fi/Romance/Drama, The Man with the Magic Box, is set to be released on DVD and VOD on April 2nd via Artsploitation Films.
Written and directed by Bodo Kox (The Girl from the Wardrobe 2012, 2XL series), the film also featured a constructive cast comprised of Piotr Polak (Milosc nad rozlewiskiem series, Zycie nad rozlewiskiem series) as Adam the lowly janitor; Olga Bołądź (Blindness 2016, Botoks 2017) as the gorgeous Goria; Sebastian Stanki Stankiewicz (Okna, okna 2018, Plagi Breslau 2018) as Adam’s janitorial confidant, Sebastian; and Helena Norowicz (Agent nr 1 1972, The Border series) as the mysterious inhabitant, Urszula Stefanka, in addition to others.
Regardless of how competent the cast came off as, the film made use of an inauspiciously ordinary plot that reduced the whole of the film down to little more than a forgettable descent into mediocrity. The story takes place in a dystopian Warsaw, Poland, during the year 2030, and focuses on a janitor named Adam (Polak), who stumbles upon what appears to be an old radio, from the 1950s, in the building in which he lives and works. After discovering and tampering with the device, Adam begins experiencing flashes of memories from a time long since passed, and ultimately ends up transporting to another time altogether.
In his menial job, he meets a beautiful and stimulating woman named Goria (Bołądź), with whom, in their current classist society, he was basically forbidden from engaging in a serious relationship with because of the rules associated with the established social hierarchy. Goria, initially just looking for a good time, grows more and more attached to this ever-disappearing man with the magic box. Will she break down walls, break the rules, and break free from the monotony to find monogamy with her inferior?
The elements of Drama and Romance are so prevalent that they disappointingly outshone any possibility of the movie coming off as anything more than such. The special effects are minimal and felt like something they miss the mark. On the other hand though, there are some quirky and eccentric characters that are quite interesting and almost comical at times; and the cinematography is just shy of sheer flawlessness.
The aesthetics are pleasing, and the optical illusions knew exactly when and where to draw viewers’ eyes. It is also worth noting that the juxtaposition of the present and the past does well in showing the parallels between the two, which further signified the theme of history repeating itself.
Though Science Fiction may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this film contained some moments that quickly turned that tea into a cup of nothing more than some flavorless water, but then there were other moments that packed a little more punch and transformed that tea into something with more of a Long Island Iced taste and vibe to it; which is why Cryptic Rock gives The Man with the Magic Box 2 out of 5 stars.