The Villiage   April 21st, 2010

Originally Written 07/08/2004

M. Night Shyamalan needs to be slapped.

I saw the The Village tonight. To say I hated it is too strong, but I was seriously dissapointed by the film, and I went into it without much expectations. Though I was hoping for more werewolves. This is it, M. Night needs to stop relying on the crutch of trick endings and big surprises. I’ve been growing tired of them, but this one really annoyed me. It was just so trite and mundane.

I didn’t read any big reviews before seeing the film, not wanting to be affected by them, but I did catch one tiny capsule of a review today while looking up the showtimes. The reviewer for Variety I think it was pointed out that his films have made people approach them like their a secret to be cracked, and that changes how you watch them and look at the story. As I said to Paul, you don’t really watch his films, you more observe them, trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. That takes out some of the fun of the movie for me, you can’t just be an observer, you have to be a detective.

It’s also sad and annoying that he could write better movies if he didn’t always seem like a one-trick-pony. While some of the dialog in this film was a bit wooden and heavy, that may have been deliberate. I will say he always does a great job with setting, mood and cinemaphotography. So it’s sad when the movie doesn’t live up to its promises or what it could have been.

About twenty minutes into the film I got an idea of how it might end. Then again later on I had the same thought, but hoped it wouldn’t be true. When it was revealed to be what I’d suspected I didn’t even have some dull surprise. I was annoyed to have seen it coming, especially since it was such a trite and silly idea. What’s more, he played his hand too quickly. The ace was shown with about twenty minutes left, which made things kind of anticlimactic. There was another face card which didn’t do much for me and then a joker at the end, but I’d called that too. I leaned over to Paul and suggested it about 5-10 minutes before it was shown. Bleah.

What’s more, not only was the ending so predictably obvious, I found it kind of insulting. I’m tired of how M. Night has to make a big show of how clever and insightful he is. He came off as particularly smug in this one, not just from his forced cameo in this film (I felt his others worked, this one didn’t), but he also looked like he was preaching from an ivory tower. It was so damn heavy-handed and smacked of moral superiority.

What’s more the morality tale was pretty hard to swallow. The film did kind of work as a fable, but even then the metaphors were way to obvious. Again, I can’t say I hated the film, I did like parts of it, and some of the ideas were interesting. I still felt let down and insulted though. I’m also torn on whether or not to recommend this to anyone. I tend to be a movie snob, so other people might really like it and feel I’m too hard on it. I still think it could’ve been a lot better. Still, it’s worth checking out, if not as a rental than as a matinee. As Paul said, the immersion of the darkened theater works much better for the suspense. Though I didn’t think the suspense always worked her. Signs did that much better.

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