Thursday, July 10, 2008
REVIEW - "The Happening" (2008)
Well he’s done it! M. Night Shyamalan has done it! “The Happening” is not simply his worst film to date, but the worst movie I’ve seen this summer. I’m not sure what was going through M. Night’s head while writing the script for this movie. Certainly he wasn’t trying to sabotage his own career, but he might as well have. In what I firmly believe should have been titled, “An Inconvenient Truth 2: Revenge of the Plants,” “The Happening” does exactly what Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” did for me years ago: Encourage me, with great annoyance, to destroy nature.
Mark Wahlberg plays the “cool” science teacher Elliot Moore that tries to escape with his wife (Zooey Deschanel) from a “happening” (Whoa! The title!) that is causing people to kill themselves. I wish I had more to tell you plot-wise, but there’s not much more to it than that.
I’m writing this review kind of late so I’m sure I’m not spoiling anything when I say the plants are behind all of this. Yes, the trees, grass, plants of all sorts are releasing some sort of pheromone that cause something in the human brain to activate a suicide command and that’s that! If this is M. Night’s idea of helping out the whole Global Warming and pollution issue he needs to rethink his message. As it stands, the logical thing to do if trees began attacking us is to kill them all. Then again, Shyamalan also created characters that are somehow able to outrun the wind. Apparently he needs to rethink other ideas as well.
The script left no mercy for the actors. Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, two A-List actors as far as I’m concerned, have never looked so lost. There are moments where it seems like Wahlberg is tripping over his lines. Any other time he’s simply under-acting; giving a lackluster delivery that comes off as cheesy and is impaired further by Shyamalan’s “in-your-face” camera shots. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed Wahlberg’s poor performance if I wasn’t able to see straight in to his eye every other shot.
“The Happening” also seems to be intent on being poetic when really there’s just no reason behind some of the choices made in this movie. The old woman at the end of the film, Mrs. Jones, was interesting enough to be tied in to the overall occurrences within the film and thus leading to some solid resolution. As it turns out the character is nothing more than a senile woman who adds nothing to the overall story. No, Mr. Shyamalan, I don’t get it. You have me. Why was she there?
I’m also sure someone in the world believes Shyamalan’s mindless killing off of children, so that the main characters could be alone, was really a decision made to honor some moral message concerning mankind’s selfish need to survive. Hey, if they can look way too far in to an obvious plot device, so can I!
I want so badly for this review to tell you that this was M. Night’s big comeback—That “The Happening” is a fantastic film that brings back Shyamalan’s faith-based storylines with his powerful characters. It is not though. The man has finally made a movie worse than “The Village” and created something so bad that I don’t think I can look forward to any more of his films. He created three great gems and then plummeted head first in to frivolous dreck. If this review seems sparse it’s because “The Happening” didn’t give me a lot to think about. Even as I think of all the negatives, a movie with so little leaves only so little to talk about.
½ out of ****