Here’s a poll for you:
Cause, here’s the thing. I have problems with some of Shyamalan’s work, I do. But I like a lot of it, too. I’ve only seen four of six of his movies, though. At some point, maybe I’ll watch all of them and do a Shyamalan retrospective or something. In the meantime, I figured it would just be easier to ask you.
Actually, while I’m at it . . .
Just to get a complete picture.
Feel free to rant your little hearts away in the comments section. Results will be up next Monday, February 27th.
9 thoughts on “The Guy Everyone Loves to Hate . . .”
The Happening remains the only film that I’ve taken the DVD out 2/3rds of the way through, and chunked it out the back door.
I’ve only seen the first three and I like them all.
The Happening is my favourite. It’s so entertainingly bad.
Lady in the Water is a seriously under appreciated, beautiful little film.
The Happening, on the other hand, is the most incredibly woodenly-acted, badly-scripted, sorry-I’m-not-afriad-of-the-WIND movie I’ve ever seen. Terrible.
I actually think he was taking a big chance with Lady in the Water — that he had gotten into REAL emotional territory for him, but that it was received badly and it made him have a bit of a breakdown and doubt that path. The Happening seems like he was *trying* to make something commercial and just didn’t have his heart in it at all, or give a shit about whether it made any sense or not. I feel like the commercial failure of LITW just broke him as a filmmaker, and I wonder if he’ll ever come back from that…
I don’t know whether it’s necessary or not, but I do reveal a few plot points so SPOILER ALERT.
I’ve only seen The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, plus a few minutes of The Village but not enough to know whether it’s good or whether it sucks. The Sixth Sense I didn’t like that much because the twist was already blown before I ever saw it – about a decade after it came out. I have no idea whether I would have liked it otherwise, but I suspect not – the twist doesn’t really make sense, because for one thing if the psychiatrist can’t be seen by anyone else the kid’s mother didn’t bother to get him any help.
Unbreakable I mostly liked but it went too far. I could just believe it’s possible for the opposite extreme of the brittle bone condition to exist, but it was too much giving him a psychic power, and water as his Kryptonite was also unnecessary. Not to mention having unbreakable bones and a kind of super strength wouldn’t mean you couldn’t get a cold, and wouldn’t mean you couldn’t be fucked up at least a little by a train crash. Overall, though, I liked it and the performances were good.
I used to be a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. The Lady in the Water was his first movie I didn’t like, but it wasn’t terrible. The Happening, however, WAS terrible. Luckily it was so damn hilarious that I still had fun mocking it with friends, especially during such scenes of heavyweight drama where Mark Wahlberg pleads to a fake plant. Sadly, nothing could’ve made The Last Airbender watchable. It’s hard to believe a director could go from making an Academy Award nominated film like The Sixth Sense to something as inept as The Last Airbender.
The Village is my favorite M. Night film. Nobody I know likes it. They insist it’s a bad movie, but I genuinely think The Village is a very, very good movie. Sure, it has its flaws, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Bryce Dallas Howard delivered an excellent performance. The cinematography is gorgeous. The atmosphere and mood of the film is consistently creepy and moody throughout its runtime. I like that the film’s main character shifts from Joaquin Phoenix’s character to Bryce’s character at the halfway point. We always expect the MC to remain safe from danger until at least near the end of a movie; that assumption is shattered in a shocking manner in The Village. I usually roll my eyes at the romance angles in movies, but the romance in The Village felt authentic. For once, I actually enjoyed that aspect of the film.
The movie was promoted as something it wasn’t. I think that played a large part in its poor reception. The twist ending had also become too much of a gimmick because people had come to expect it in everything M. Night made. People criticized Adrien Brody for going “full retard.” The reveal about the monsters also seemed to annoy people. Personally, I find the last thirty minutes or so incredibly suspenseful, even when I know what’s going to happen. I imagine myself as Bryce’s character, blind and alone, thinking that these evil creatures are lurking amongst me in the woods. How terrifying would that be? The scene where her yellow robe (the safe color) is muddied and she tries desperately to wipe it clean to no avail, and the camera zooms out to reveal that she is standing amongst a circle of red flowers (the bad color) is such an excellent scene. The scene where the monster first shows up behind her, and gets steadily closer, still gives me goosebumps. I was in 11th grade when I first watched the movie, and we had spent a lot of time reading Nathaniel Hawthorne stories like “Young Goodman Brown,” which seemed to serve as inspiration for the movie. The themes of morality are something I still find very interesting. No matter how far into the abyss M. Night’s career continues to plummet, I will always defend The Village.
The main problem I had with it was that if you wanted to create something like The Village there are easier ways to do it. Why build it there when there is plenty of wilderness. Probably wouldn’t even have needed walls then.
The Sixth Sense was the first film that taught me how stupid the “jump-scares” in movies are. The combination of sounds of high-pitched violin, feedback, whistling noises, etc. all reach a crescendo and there’s a bang and “oh my goodness that boy has a hole in the back of his head!” Only THAT wasn’t why I jumped and chucked all my popcorn all over myself. No, the reason I jumped was because of the loud bang sound that accompanied the image of that boy’s head wound.
(I would later see an even more ridiculous example in the American remake of “The Ring” where the loud bang accompanies the appearance of A MILLIPEDE IN AN ENVELOPE. – Gah! But yeah, The Sixth Sense showed me this first.)
I wasn’t terribly impressed by Signs or The Village and I stopped watching Shyamalan’s films when the critic’s opinions took a massive dive. So the only one of Shyamalan’s movies that has ever really irritated me was The Sixth Sense.
Unbreakable, on the other hand, had Samuel L. Jackson being awesome. It was the first movie to seriously ask “what if superheroes were real” and the ideas behind that seemed pretty clever to me. Of course, the first time around you don’t know that it’s got anything to do with superheroes. In fact one of the great things about that movie is that even while you are watching you are able to go (along with protagonist) “superheroes? That’s just silly.” The narrative then has to slowly bring you around to the idea.
It was the first movie to seriously ask “what if superheroes were real” and the ideas behind that seemed pretty clever to me.
Except that it kind of goes too far. The idea of having something the opposite extreme of Jackson’s character is interesting but then they give him a psychic power, and that weakness to water – as though to say, “He’s a superhero – every hero has to have a weakness!” It was a nice idea to have Jackson cause the train wreck, though, since the odds aren’t great that a dude with unbreakable bones would be involved in one otherwise.