Category: book adaptations

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

Length: 1Hr 38

Rating: PG

About: On his birthday, Omri (Hal Scardino) is given several simple gifts, including an old wooden cupboard and a small plastic figurine of a Native American man. When he locks the toy inside the cabinet it magically comes to life as a tiny, cagey warrior named Little Bear (Litefoot). The boy then places other toys in the cupboard and they too come to life, even engaging in entertaining battles. But after Little Bear is wounded, Omri begins to understand that his animate toys are not mere playthings.

First Thoughts

This was my birthday film when I was 10. Upon watching it today, I really do wonder why I chose this to watch. Turns out, I’d had quite a month in the cinema and The Indian in the Cupboard would have been my 6th outing in December. Quite incredible really; I don’t remember seeing quite so many in such a short space of time.

The Good

There’s some deep and meaningful themes within the story that appear to be pulled from the book from which the film is adapted. From exploring responsibility to death and funeral rituals, it’s an easily passive education.

The way in which the film has mastered the perspectives to have the actors as different sizes still stands and I’d say it’s better than films like the Burrowers, which had a larger budget.

It’s quite nice spotting Steve Coogan in a role of humanised toy soldier many years before becoming Octavian in Night at the Museum.

The Bad and the Ugly

Its an odd sort of kid’s film. The plot is rather slow, overly serious and somber for younger viewers, while adults probably would rather check out Mannequin than watch this anxiety riddled kid play with plastic made human.

It’s rather slow in a way that makes it feel overly long. Part of it is to do with the role of Omri; there’s no real development of his character other than him deciding to no longer use the cupboard. I’d have liked to have seen him become a more confident child. By lacking a significant development, it subdues what should be an uplifting ending.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to watch this film again, but I can see why I’ve not rushed to see it again.

Bird Box – 15

Length- 2 Hr 4

About- When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.

The Good

Sandra Bullock is able to hold her own in Bird Box. She’s long been considered leading lady material, but it’s taken her time to break out from the romantic comedy role or plucky positivity hound. The sour and angry demeanour that once seemed so alien and forced in some of her performances fits her like a glove. She is scary and heartbreakingly detached from the children in her care and I don’t think that was something I would have seen as a convincing role from Bullock even 5 years ago.

Let’s face it, this film is A Quiet Place with a different bodily sense being the focus. That in itself isn’t significant or would encourage those who’ve seen the John Krasinski directed film to watch this approach. However, what I will say this has, that A Quiet Place perhaps lacks is the body count. A Quiet Place feels stifled by its limited cast, while Bird Box allows you to explore the aftermath as a society, rather than a family.

It’s a curious story, which an ending that is much more hopeful than I was expecting. I’ve heard talk of A Quiet Place gaining a sequel, which is odd as I don’t think there was enough to it, or characters sympathetic enough for me to wish for more. Bird Box, on the other hand, is well set up for a sequel.

The Bad

It is a little too derivative. Something that I feel is more to do with timing than anything else. It’s A Quiet Place meets Mom & Dad; both films that were released earlier this year. Mom & Dad is in itself a sudo remake of the 1976 Who Can Kill a Child? Sometimes, with films like these it doesn’t matter which is better, just which one got there first.

It was a sensible thing to have it released on Netflix rather than a theatrical release. I’m not sure people would have dropped the money on a film that, on paper, seems to be A Quiet Place bandwagon jump.

The Ugly

Its a violent affair and it all comes at once. I’m not a squimish person, but I found a number of scenes just a little tough to handle. At the root of this, is perhaps the fact that when faced with this sort of situation, the mob mentality in our own society would result in this sort of violence.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent watch and I’m always grateful to see Sandy Bullock on the screen but I can’t see it jumping to people’s most loved films. However, if I’m watching films of this ilk; I’d rather watch Who Can Kill a Child? again.