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No! It Ain’t Happening!

the-happening.jpgI’m referring to M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, The Happening. Once again I found myself hoping that the ambitious director of The Sixth Sense could recapture the magic of his earlier films. The trailer did its job, and I contemplated coughing up eight bucks and two hours.

But then I remembered Lady in the Water, one of my worst movie-going experiences of ’06. So I figgered the smart thing to do would be to check the buzz meter. And the jury had weighed in. Couple the Rotten Tomatoes rating of 20%, with Metacritic’s 35, and the decision was over.

Sure, critics don’t know everything. But after Mr. Night’s previous entry, I think I’m better served re-watching Sixth Sense or Unbreakable (maybe Shyamalan’s best film). Who knows what happened (pun intended) — creative constipation, commercial pandering, egocentricity? Either way, this time it ain’t Happening.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Nicole June 16, 2008, 11:25 PM

    “Lady in the Water” was absurd, wasn’t it?

  • Michael Ehret June 17, 2008, 12:05 PM

    It was preposterous, but I love it — and The Village. In fact, I love all of his movies and can’t wait to see this one. Even when the stories are whack, the moviemaking is fab.

    Hmmm…a “no” decision based on the last movie and two reviews from sites that love to ridicule? Perhaps a bit premature?

    I’ll see it and let you know what I think!

  • Mike Duran June 17, 2008, 1:09 PM

    Michael, I’m so disappointed with Shyamalan because I love the supernatural thriller genre and he’s proved he could do it well. The Village was all right, as was Signs. However, both films demonstrated, to me, that the director was losing his edge, perhaps becoming predictable. Lady in the Water took the cake. As a fan of that genre, I can suspend disbelief fairly easy. But that story was so shoddily told and implausible, I bailed. It didn’t help that Shyamalan rejected the studio’s demands to rework the story. In fact, that’s set the tone because M. Night is increasingly being viewed as a Hollywood outsider, riding on a string of earlier successes but outside the loop of accountability. I may see this one on DVD, but I doubt it.

    (By the way, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic compile opinions from critics and fans around the country, so you’re looking at hundreds of accumulated reviews, not just two or three.)

  • Heather June 17, 2008, 2:37 PM

    I love Unbreakable. I’d love to see more films like that.

  • Michael Ehret June 19, 2008, 11:58 AM

    Yes, Unbreakable is wonderful. I agree. I remember sitting in the theatre for that one thinking, “this is so cool.”

    It can be really tough, when you nail a genre your first time out in a way that is totally new and original, to go back to that well, creatively. I think M. Night should try a new genre. I do agree that he hasn’t yet met the promise of Sixth Sense, but I am able to suspend more disbelief then the average person, I guess. 🙂

    The story was ludicrous in “Lady,” but I still had a great time in the theatre with the TELLING of the story. A great storyteller can tell a bad story in an entertaining way.

  • Alayna Duran June 20, 2008, 9:50 PM

    It was unrealistic… The characters were fake, but best yet they ended the movie for a possible sequel.

  • Xdpaul June 23, 2008, 8:49 PM

    The other issue is that Shyamalan had a lot in the creative bank when he made 6th Sense (which I ruined for myself when I called the ending at the beginning of the movie) and Unbreakable. But I don’t think you can sustain the whole writer/producer/director thing, constantly shoot outside of Hollywood, and pull off big pictures. Not even Woody Allen, whose box office target is relatively tiny (his production costs are very low, which makes him a cheap, guaranteed break-even bet) pulls the trifecta out every time. Even when he does, he waters down his own product in the process.

    Night should be happy to “have done it” in regards to the one-man band approach, but should have released the heat on himself several movies ago by finding a solid genre writer and begged out of production duties. The cat can direct an atmospheric movie. He just needs to draw on talents other than his own.

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