Tuesday, July 15, 2008

REVIEW: The Happening

The Happening

Year: 2008
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Rated R

Director M. Night Shyamalan has been getting alot of negative feedback from his fans after his previous film "Lady in the Water" didn't turn out the way people wanted it to be. It was important for this famed director to really show us what he can do with his next film. Enter The Happening, a movie that's been heavily criticized and has an average of 19% on rotten tomatoes. Ill be honest, I use to love M. Night for his previous films because they all had an interesting story and some kind of a twist. When I first saw the trailer for The Happening, I really wasn't impressed. I had a feeling this movie was going to turn out to be crap and yet I was right again.

Plot Outline:
An "event" is happening in Central Park, New York that is causing everyone to randomly kill themselves. From here on we witness numerous cases of random suicide in the public and eventually find ourselves with Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), a high school science teacher. He is evacuated with wife Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel) and fellow teacher Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). Their train comes to a sudden halt and they are basically abandoned. Left to fend for themselves, they set off to find a safe place and wait out the disaster.

The story for The Happening is a complete mess. The plot is rather too thin and not really creative. There were hardly any character development that made these characters in the movie seem interesting even though I did kind of like how the relationship with Elliot and Alma turned out near the end. I wanted to stop watching the film after the first 11 minutes because they already ruin the ending, but since I have to watch the whole movie to really clarify if it was as bad as some have said it to be, I decided to continue watching it. I'm kind of glad that I continued watching it because that ruining the ending thing turned out to be wrong. Shyamalan has been know for twists in his movies and The Happening is no different. However, the twist here isn't as grand and shocking as the ones in some of his previous films. Not only that, but the ending wasn't good either. We get no real evidence on what exactly was The Happening and why it happened. For this being the first "R" rated film from Shyamalan, I was expecting much more. Theirs hardly any scenes that really put that "R" rating to the test. For all I know, this could have easily been a "PG-13" film.

The cast of The Happening is hardly anything to get excited about since almost everyone of them seem forgettable. Mark Wahlberg plays as Elliot Moore and he gives a decent performance here. It isn't as impressive as the one he gave in the 2006 Oscar hit "The Departed", but its still pretty decent. Zooey Deschanel plays as Alma Moore and although shes pretty in the movie, shes just another forgettable face. She's pretty plain and doesn't react much to whats going on. John Leguizamo plays as Julian and he too doesn't provide us with a performance that's memorable. Leguizamo can be a really entertaining and yet serious when he wants to, but he just just doesn't deliver here. He seems like hes trying alittle too hard. We also have Ashlyn Sanchez paying as Jess. Now, I don't remember seeing her in another movie before, but I think she does an OK job here. Nothing special, but nothing bad.

The visual look for The Happening is actually really good. I was pretty damn surprised seeing that even though the story sucked, the movie ended up looking great. There aren't any real CGI involved in the movie which is kind of a surprise since some of Shyamalan's previous films had them. Having been just released almost a month ago, the movies source is an excellent condition. Their wasn't any film grain and the image seemed pretty smooth to me. Colors seemed slightly oversaturated for the most part, but they still looked great. The movie was mostly filmed outdoor thus resulting in many outdoor scenes that all look pretty colorful. Detail is great all around with alot of close up shots revealing a good amount of clarity to them. There were a few soft spots here and there, but this was a great looking movie overall.

The soundtrack for The Happening also turned out pretty good. Composer James Newton Howard who also scored other popular hits such as Batman Begins and King Kong does a good job here too. His score seems to fit the mood and atmosphere of this film. I wouldn't say its as good as some of his other work hes done, but it still manages to be pretty effective. Bass is on the low side with a few rumbles here and there. Nothing too special considering this is a heavy dialogue driven film. Which is kind of a shame since it would have only added to the experience. With that said, the dialogue does seem pretty clean and clear. People shouldn't have a hard time listening to everyone in the film.

The Happening could have easily been much better if they took a more simpler route instead this is another disappointing release from the famous Indian director. The story is all over the place and doesn't conclude in a a good way. I was left with so many un-answered questions that weren't addressed in the movie. The cast is decent, but easily forgettable. There really isn't anyone that stands out and gives us a great performance. The visual look of the movie is great and probably the only thing keeping this movie alive. The soundtrack is pretty good too, but hardly any bass makes this movie rather dull and un-exciting. I cant believe this is coming from the guy who gave us The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Shyamalan really needs to start focusing on his movies next time. Don't give us crap that isn't scary or interesting. Give us something simple and thrilling. I suggest you skip this movie because The Happening just doesn't happen.

Grade: D-


Mitch Harper said...

I'm glad I skipped seeing this movie. All the hype over Night's first R-rated film didn't excite me and I'm not a big-fan of Wahlberg.

It sounds like one of the worst films of the summer thus far. How does this get mass distribution then a movie like The Promotion is only limited??? Crazy. Have you seen that Farzan?

Farzan said...

Sorry Mitch, I haven't seen it yet. Im going to be busy this week with the Batman trilogy, but I promise Ill check The Promotion as soon as Im done.

Jaccstev said...

"The Sixth Sense" is the one and only masterpiece from Shyamalan, after the film, it just like a descend ride for him where he didn't know how to going up again. I also can see why Disney executives can be so sure to reject producing his movie after their last project "The Village". "Happening" is only turn to be a silly ambitious one from him.

Farzan said...

Thats very much true. The guys at Disney didnt want to distribute his films after The Village so M. Night went to Warner Bros. for the Lady in the Water. After that bombed, Warner didnt want to distribute his next film so he went to Fox. I think this trend will continue