A guy who makes Twilight Zone episodes into feature length movies, which is not usually a good thing.
The Sixth Sense (1999) -- The dialogue is clichéd, as are many of the situations, and the movie in the end adds up to a dumb trick. But in spite of this, it's not too bad and pretty entertaining in a goofy sort of way. A kinda nice ghost story. It's the only Shyamalan movie I like, and it's pretty much a fluke. Watch all his other movies and realize that the kid is just a moron.
Unbreakable (2000) -- Shyamalan tries to find his groove by making Twilight Zone stories, forgetting that most of that show's episodes were just stupid, like this. Directed with a great style, it's just vacant under the prettiness.
Signs (2002) -- I was expecting too much, I think. I was expecting an epic everything-"explained" movie about aliens: all the weird stuff--the crop circles, the probes, everything... all tidied up and dramatized for us. Instead, we get a nice little thriller which is actually more about regaining faith (a boring formula by now) as a result of the "proof" of that faith (which isn't faith anyway, by definition). Has a lot of the same problems as a John Irving novel.
The Village (2005) -- I had given up watching Shyamalan movies, but then I saw one scene of this movie out of context on HBO one day. It's the scene in which the blind girl is being chased by the creature in the woods. She's beautiful and wearing this interesting yellow and the creature is in a red cloak with thorny stuff coming out of his back and the colors in the woods are weird and drab. There seems to be some actual nightmare-style horror, some sort of stylish fever dream stuff going on. At the time, I didn't even know it was The Village, but was interested in it as a visual scene. There was even some bizarre dream-like dialogue to follow: "He found one of the costumes under the floorboards." "The monsters!" So I watched the movie to see if it was as cool as it seemed in these two minutes. Um, no. I'm not going to warn you about spoilers, because Shyamalan spoiled the movie himself. The movie would have been good if it had actually been about villagers living in the woods who are afraid to leave it because of monsters. Just give a villager a reason to go out there, and we got ourselves a good thriller, perhaps even with some psychological or symbolic meaning to it. Instead the movie's about people who have been through tragedies (daughter raped and left in Dumpster, etc., since Shyamalan isn't that imaginative) who decide to create their own innocent world and get away from it. Since the William Hurt character was a history professor, they decide to treat it like it's the 1800s (?), right down to the stupid way they talk. If he were really a history professor, he'd realize that there wasn't anything "innocent" about the late 1800s. For some reason everyone's getting rid of the color red--something Shyamalan wrote into the script and forgot to explain. What began as a semi-love story between the two leads devolves into nothing. There's even a side plot about a jilted sister that adds up to nothing. You get to see Adrian Brody be the village idiot for no reason. And the only reason the main girl is blind is so she doesn't see the "truth" (that she lives in the twenty-first century) at the end of the movie--except that the director forgets why he wrote her that way, since William Hurt tells her the truth before she leaves. Shyamalan hinges entire movies on these dumb "trick endings," like some sort of retarded O. Henry worshipping high school kid. And then he gets these amazing cinematographers (Roger Deakins did this one) and other talents to pull off his real trick: getting people (including me) to initially think these might be good movies.
Lady in the Water (2006) -- Could this be the worst Shyamalan movie of all? Hard to do, but I think he's done it. Instead of relying on trick endings this time, he pulls a fairy tale right out of his ass, making it up as he goes along, adding "rules" and things that make no sense. An hour and a half into the movie, and I'm wondering what I'm supposed to be invested in. Who the "healer" or the "interpreter" is? Who cares? Will the mermaid get home? Why was she there to begin with? What's the warthog's beef with her? Who are the monkeys? This kinda stuff might fly with Shyamalan's little daughter at bedtime (it wouldn't have with me at her age), but not with a paying adult intelligent audience. At least in his other movies we get some little thing to hang on to that we can somewhat enjoy: the good acting of Mel Gibson, some good cinematography, something. But here, even the picture doesn't look good. Too many characters are crowded on the screen at one time, or only two characters are at the edges of the screen as little slivers while some ugly thing takes up the middle. The visuals of this movie look like they were framed by the village idiot from Shyamalan's previous movie. And the characters suck. The extras are just racist stereotypes and the leads are wasted: Giamatti is forced to have a stupid stutter (for no reason), Howard can only speak in wisps (for no reason), and Balaban is forced to look like a robot. Why do I watch these movies? I want to see just how bad they can get. It's academic.
Copyright (c) Jun 2002 - Jan 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies