Saturday, June 14, 2008
The Happening...my review...
Alright, so here's the deal. M. Night Shyamalan, to me, is horrible overrated. Sure, he's done the Sixth Sense, but his last two films, The Village and Lady in The Water have both been mediocre to really bad. Here, let me rank his films from best to worst, in my opinion
2. The Sixth Sense
4. The Village
5. Lady in The Water
The first three are really good movies, but the last two are not up to snuff. However, when I went into The Happening, I had high expectations. Would they be met, or would the Happening join the Village and Lady in the Water at the bottom of the M. Night canon?
The Happening is a story about a mysterious airborn disease that has begun to wipe out populations of people in the Northeastern coast towns in the United States. Elliot Smith is our main character, and he is a science teacher at a school in upstate New York, and he is told that the government believes it is an elaborate terrorist attack. However, as the scale of the attacks increase, that seems highly unlikely. There are three stages of symptoms when suffering from this mind altering disease. First, slurred speech. Second, paralasis. Finally, death. As people begin to flee for the state line, more and more people die, until the truth behind the disease is discovered.
So, what was good about this film. Well, first, the chemistry between Elliot Smith, played by Mark Whalberg, and Alma, played by the gorgeous Zooey Deschanel, is great. They are husband and wife who are having problems, and it feels like they really do care for each other. Also, the movie is entertaining. Although that's a backhanded compliment, because this may be one of the worst films I have seen all year long.
The film has two main problems. First off, it looks dated. It feels as though M. Night made this film about three or four years ago, and just had it sitting in his refrigerator and decided to release it now. There is one shot in the film, where a group of people are looking at a camera phone and are watching a video of a man being eaten by lions, and it may be one of the laziest and sloppy made shots in film this year. That brings me to another point. The deaths in this film are really pointless. People who are suffering from the disease kill themselves in the last stage of the said disease, and M. Night decides that he must show each death, in detail. The most blatant example is near the end, where a man turns on a tractor/lawn mower, and lays down until he is ran over. Now, the thing with this is that he pans away after the mower is turned on, to look at Whalberg's face, and then goes right back to show the man dying. There is no point behind it. Sure, it's to show the extent of the problem, but the opening does such a better job of it, that some of this near the end is really bothersome. The final problem, well, big one anyways, is the script. This is one of the very few examples that I have seen that I really have noticed the script during the film. I mean by that that the dialouge in the film was b-movie esque, and thats not giving B-Movies enough credit. Sure, it's how some people talk, but when accompanied by intense close-ups used to highten drama, it's laughable.
The problems in the script also led to problems in the performances, especially by the little girl, Jess. She has her moments (a really touching scene with Mark Whalberg in a diner), but when it comes to drama, she really lacks. The two main characters are great though. Whalberg is funny, and Deschanel is just sweet enough, and she has some great moments. There is also some really interesting science behind it. I would write all about it, but I figure, some news articles would be better suited to do this. Here are a few websites to check out if this is something that may interest you...
That all said, the film was entertaining, and the opening is great. So this film gets a...
.5 out of 10.
It's not the worst movie of the year, but thats not saying much...it's the second worst. It's better than Meet The Spartans. Barely. This IS M. Night's worst film. Do not see this movie. Go see Invasion of The Body Snatchers, The Birds, or even I Am Legend. All of these films talk about similar things or have similar plot elements, and are much better films then The Happening.
OH! When the tagline for a film is self referential, then you know you have a problem. We've Sensed it...We've seen the Signs...now, it's Happening. Really M. Night? Don't see this movie. Rent Funny Games, and see what violence is like when it has a point behind it.
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