Monday, October 13, 2008

Movie Mon - I Wish "The Happening" Hadn't . . . Happened, That Is

Very light movie watching week, due to me spending most of my free time watching the BBC version of Life on Mars.

The Happening
: Total misfire from M. Night Shyamalan about a wave of mysterious suicides that are originally thought to be part of a terrorist attack, but which turn out to be something more mysterious. I want to start off by saying I have been a pretty big fan of Shymalan's work in the past; I loved Sixth Sense, Signs, and Unbreakable, found a lot to like in Lady in the Water, and at least appreciated the cinematography of The Village if not the predictable plot. In fact, a lot of my appreciation for his work has been tied up with his visual style; no one's ever going to accuse him of being an actor's director, and his plotting and dialogue have been hit or miss, but at least his work was visually engaging But with The Happening it's like all of his weaknesses were magnified, and all of his strengths had totally deserted him. I've seen people who took him to task for the reveal of what was causing the suicides, but that's something I didn't have a problem with. What I did have a problem with was the fact that the film featured several actors I usually enjoy watching and somehow stripped them of any likability or evidence of acting talent; not quite the horrible woodenness of the Star Wars prequels, but more of an overly cheesy and histrionic style that took me right out of things. Add onto that clunky dialogue and poor character decisions, and the fact that the film doesn't feature much in the way of visual techniques to separate it from the usual mass produced Hollywood dreck, and you have one big fat disappointment. Now, I will say that there were a couple of nice images based around the suicides, but on the whole, not really enough for me to be able to recommend the film to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer: Low budget B-movie about a guy with massive anger management issues due to his witnessing his family being slain by a werewolf at a young age, who later finds his calling in life when his night class chemistry professor (played exceedingly well by Robert "Freddie Krueger" Englund) is possessed by a demon that decides to turn the class into his own personal buffet. Kind of an innocuous film; nice effects, workmanlike script, acceptable if not exceptional acting jobs from all but the veteran Englund. By the end of the movie, I was not particularly overjoyed to have seen it, but then neither was sorry I had watched it. All in all, not a bad way to pass an hour and a half, but only if you happen to catch it on cable.