Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Happening

Oh dear. Oh dear. Lord, tell me, what in God's name has happened to the career of M. Night Shymalan? I mean, he showed signs of promise, and then made the masterpiece that is The Sixth Sense, and from there it seemed to get worse at every new film. Unbreakable, still very good. Signs, average but not without praiseworthy attributes. I have yet to see The Village or Lady in The Water, but if The Happening is an attempt to get other people to watch his other films, then I think Mr Shymalan has failed miserably. Well, I suppose, I can't criticise him too much. I mean, with Lady In The Water he tried to do something to please himself, so in that sense despite the critical mauling, at least he stayed true to himself. Going into this film, I got the impression that he was doing this merely to bring back audience (and studio) hurrahs and get on their good side, thinking "Yay, another M Night Shymalan thriller." With this, it is not as much a thriller but a farce. For starters, the script is poor, poor, POOR, hand me a gun poor. With each line of dialogue is so cringeworthingly painful to listen that I felt as though I was receiving a slow and painful anal probing from a bunch of little men with massive heads. The structure is poor, with scenes of dialogue seemingly being inserted for the sake of filler, to add more length to the film. Also, bringing back to my earlier comments regarding farce, the irony is that the scenes in which we are meant to empathise and feel emotions of terror, anxiety and sadness in the story are funny in the worst way possible and the scenes which are supposedly humorous end up being terrifyingly poor. For example, this is no spoiler I might add, put it this way, there is a scene with Mark Wahlberg running towards the camera in slow-motion with a great, slow "noooooo" that would not be out of place in an episode of Family Guy. Also, Wahlberg is a reminder of how poor the acting in this film is. Wahlberg, normally a fine actor, takes a page out of the Steven Seagal Book Of Acting which reads, "To express true emotion, an actor must maintain one expression in order to show off his wide variety of acting skills." Whereas Sensei Seagal has his squinting grimace, Wahlberg maintains a raised eyebrows, confused look throughout the course of the entire film. Also, question, someone tell me, who or what is Zooey whats-her-names character? A terrible script is bad enough darling, but your lack of acting prowess isn't exactly helping either, now is it? Sorry, two questions. There are only a few, and a bare few at that, different aspects of the film that deserve mention in a more flattering manner. One, this is a very good concept for a film, a unique idea, however it is executed poorly. Two, the film is shot well, with some scenes early in the film coming across as genuinely intriguing at most. Finally, while Shymalan has written a poor film, he certainly has not lost his ability to direct correctly. There, I'm finished. I'm sorry, I cannot write any more to praise this film because I do like Shymalan as a director. Many people I know hate Signs, but I think it is a flawed, but nonetheless average film not without a few good scares. As far as I'm concerned, this film is completely different. It is a money project, an attempt to win back favour, with a director who is clearly rushing through the film and obviously unenthusiastic about this. Now I'm no film director, but in my opinion, Shymalan needs to take five or six years off in order to be able to develop one of his good concepts into a good film. I believe that he has at least one more good thriller in him, but this is most certainly not it. It is flabby, poorly acted, atrociously scripted that is completely lacking in emotional depth or correct structure. In many ways, the film does the same as The Incredible Hulk, telling you and almost forcing you to make up your mind about your emotions. A good film should not do this. A good film should lay the groundwork in the first Act, drawing us into the world the characters inhabit and then not take the audiences intelligence for granted and instead let them make their own decisions about their emotions and character empathy, based on the directors portrayal of the characters and story unfolding. My lasting comment? Well, the fact that UTV (not the one you know) produced the film, causing me to crack a joke about a potential Julian Simmons introduction/cameo to the film, which was in itself the highlight of the film, does not speak very highly of its quality. I mean, come on, I spent the first half-hour giggling at one of my own jokes. Yes, it's that bad.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.8/10

On The Topic Of The Happening

To echo the words of the good doctor Kermode, "What is making the wind blow?!"

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