Tuesday, March 20, 2007

M. Night Whatshisface

Stef and I watched "Lady in the Water" last night.

Wait, let me go back a little. Does anyone remember the teaser trailer for Lady in the Water? The one that doesn't really show much except the main character and some splashing, but ends with the question "How many of you are there?" I found that teaser very evocative, and I was greatly looking forward to this film.

Wait... let me go back a little more. Remember how great "The Sixth Sense" was, and how excited we all were to see the next movie by this mysterious new film maker with the odd name? We got Unbreakable.

Okay, back to the movie in question. After a teaser trailer that made me so eager to see this film, Lady in the Water was just.... awkward. It had way too much exposition, and while it had interesting characters I just don't feel like he did much with them. It would have made a much better novel, where the author has plenty of time to build minor characters until their moment of usefulness. When all you have is ninety minutes in which to work, that building process equates to about 15 seconds of screen time.

I can't say I'm terribly surprised though. M. Night S. has been hit and miss for movies. The Sixth Sense was amazing for pace and revelation. Unbreakable was moody, but seemed more like an undeveloped project than a follow up to such a huge success. Without Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson it would have been ignored. Signs was jumpy and creepy, but way too heavy handed and weakly ended. I don't have a lot of complaints about The Village; I rather enjoyed it, and felt like it lived up to its promise. Lady in the Water has an interesting monster, and I liked the main character Cleveland Heap, but other than that it just more or less failed to make me give a crap one way or the other about what happened. Advice for the millionaire filmmaker: make smaller stories. I can't really get excited about thing that will change the consciousness of all humanity. I want a story where interesting characters experience things and have them resolved in their own context. I'd take small and interesting to epic and vague any time. It shouldn't take an alien invasion to make a disillusioned preacher realize that events in his life have meaning. A girl from another world being pursued by a monster doesn't need to change the course of human history... just make us care about saving her.

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