Yesterday we took a look at some of our favorite Shyamalan scenes, but today we’re going to be looking at some of his worst scenes. Get ready, because you’d never believe the same guy that made the scenes from yesterday made these as well.
Film: Lady in the Water | Scene: The Ending
John said: First off I have to say, I didn’t hate Lady in the Water. I realize Shyamalan was trying to create an adult fairy tale but WOW does this movie really take a nose dive into weird territory. I mean, it was always rooted in oddness since it’s about a man discovering a sea nymph and trying to get her back to the “blue world”. But the end is just “out there” man. I think he is just trying too hard. Tree monkeys are fighting grass wolves. There’s a guy with only one huge bicep for whatever reason. And then a giant Eagle swoops in to take the girl away with that famous out of focus non-reveal that M. Night loves. Taken out of context, this scene is ridiculous, but when you watch the whole movie it’s a decent pay off. The music is pretty damn good too. But this is nowhere near the quality Shyamalan was hitting with other flicks. And so the downfall began….
Film: Lady in the Water | Scene: Film Critic Dies
Phil said: This whole film is a turning point in Shyamalan’s career. I’m with John in that I believe it marks the beginning of his downfall as a director and story teller. One of the major problems with this film is that Shyamalan is starting to reveal that he’s a bit narcissistic. Not only does he cast himself as essentially the central character of the whole film, the one who is so important that his book will change the course of history, but he also puts a film critic in the movie as a side character. At first, it’s a sort of funny jab at the critics that panned his previous films (mainly the Village, lesser would be Signs), but eventually he turns into a big baby and kills the critic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film (only saw it in theaters) but I believe the critic is the only character to die.
Not only does he kill the critic, but it’s just an awful scene. The critic is standing there facing the beast, but likening the situation to a horror movie. Instead of running for his life, he sits there and goes over all the movie cliches as to what will happen to him and how he’ll end up safe and sound. Instead, he gets eaten. I don’t know what Night was trying to prove here. Was he trying to show us that he does what other film makers don’t do? Was this his revenge against all of his critics? Whatever it was, it’s an amateur way of getting back at the people that have panned his films. Here’s a tip, silence your critics by making a great film.
Film: The Happening | Scene: What? NO!!!
John said: I had SUCH high hopes for The Happening. SUCH HIGH HOPES! I watched the trailer multiple times before seeing the movie and it looked like an awesome R-rated M. Night production. Plus I thought it had to have a good twist at the end. It just had to! But no, goddamn wind was killing people. Plants and wind and nature. Yeah! I spoiled it, big deal. I was so mad that the movie wasn’t great, or even good for that matter. And Mark Wahlberg, a guy that plays a badass to perfection, played a friggin’ laid back science teacher. One of his worst roles ever, filled with some ridiculous acting. At least if a tough guy Marky Mark punched a giant wind monster in the face, saving all mankind, then we could have laughed. But instead we just get this. WHAAAAAT?! NOOOOOO! Nonsense.
Film: The Happening | Scene: Lion Terrorists
Phil said: I’m probably one of the few people that found The Happening… slightly acceptable. I’m aware that it is not a good movie, but I thought it was largely watchable. Unlike John, I didn’t really have much beef with the whole “plants are killing everyone!” reveal. What I do have a problem with is how Shyamalan handled the entire event. I guess it wouldn’t have been any fun if people were just dropping like flies thanks to the toxins, so Shyamalan decides to make the human race go a little bat shit insane before they die. As a result, they start doing all sorts of stupid shit in an attempt to make the audience gasp. One guy crashes his car into a tree and flies out. Another dude starts his giant industrial lawn mower and then lays in front of it. The worst scene though, is the terrorist Lion attack.
In a nod to Signs, a woman receives video footage from a friend of a zoo keeper from the Philadelphia Zoo that gets mauled by lions and she shares it with the people around her. We’re watching the footage through the phone, much like the alien reveal scene in Signs. The premise isn’t bad, the guy goes in there and starts petting some lions, but the lions start to eat him and all of a sudden it turns into a Monty Python segment. It’s terrible. How are we not supposed to laugh at this? Night finally goes R rating and instead of making mature use of the rating, he starts playing around like a little kid making their first Flash video. The lions literally rip this guys arms off as if they were made of mashed potatoes. What was he thinking? This isn’t even including the ridiculous reactions the people watching the video have. “Mother of god what kind of terrorists are these?” They’re lion terrorists honey, and don’t you forget it.
Film: The Last Airbender | Scene: Princess Yue’s Death
John said: This is the worst movie I saw in 2010 but luckily my hopes weren’t too high so its not as big of a letdown as The Happening was. This movie really lacked character development. In this scene, Princess Yue (Seychelle Gabriel) accepts her fate as she gives her life for her people. The only problem was she was only in the movie for 20 minutes at this point so no one really gave a crap. This coupled with the fact that Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) fell in love with her within 5 minutes of knowing her and reacts like he is losing someone he has known his entire life. It didn’t give chills, pull at the heartstrings, or elicit any kind of emotion from me. It just fell flat. Pretty much like the rest of the movie.
Film: The Last Airbender | Scene: Earth Bender Battle
Phil said: This scene shows that maybe Night isn’t cut out for big budget effects movies. His more simple and sensible approach to action (see the fights from Signs and Unbreakable) doesn’t lend itself well to the sort of action audiences expected out of Airbender. The scene is directly from the TV series, Aang and the gang have come to set free a bunch of Earthbenders from the Fire Nation. After a bit of convincing, Aang gets the Earthbenders to fight back and insanity SHOULD ensue, but it doesn’t.
Night daringly makes this action sequence one of his long cuts. The issue here is that his long cuts are usually the focus of a handful of characters, but here it feels like nothing is happening. As the camera moves around we basically just see a bunch of people standing around being bored. When someone does finally attack, it takes them forever to even do anything. I don’t know why the Earthbenders are making these giant walls to protect themselves when they clearly have a 10 second window of jumping out of the way from an oncoming fireball. Then the preposterous happens. We see a shot of about 7 Earthbenders cooking up something huge. These guys clearly mean business with moves like that. What do they conjure? A fucking pebble. In fact, the pebble is so worthless that another Earthbender has to come in to throw it forward at one of the Firebenders. The pebble reveal is one of the worst things I’ve seen in film. Seriously. At least it makes me laugh.
This doesn’t even factor in all of the poor acting that’s going on in this scene either. It is kind of amazing that our first taste of real action in Airbender is such a poorly directed piece as this. At least he slightly makes up for this action scene in the Blue Spirit sequence and the ending, but boy is this rough. Shyamalan is clearly out of his league in working with large amounts of cast members and effects. His strength is clearly is character dramas, not summer blockbusters.
So Night has had some strong points, and he’s certainly had his low points. Can Night ever make a come back at this point? I feel like his career is so tarnished that even if he did somehow make a great film that no one would even believe it. Hell, when I posted a link to our first part of this feature on Facebook yesterday someone commented with the question “Night has made great films? Plural?” Yes, yes he has, but I guess his one two punch of The Happening and Airbender, combined with the huge let down that was Lady In the Water that it’s tough to take him seriously.
As a long time fan of his, and even as someone that has gotten at least some fraction of enjoyment out of all of his films, even I don’t know if I have faith in a comeback at this point. Night is a talented guy, and he’s still got some good ideas rolling around in his head, but his ego has inflated since The Sixth Sense, and the critcal backlash of his films has affected his film making regardless of what he might say.
I wonder where his career will head next. Will he continue on with Airbender’s Part 2 and 3? He was supposed to do the entire trilogy, and the film did well enough to warrant a sequel, but after the fan and critcal outcry from the original Airbender, I can’t see him sticking with the franchise. To be honest, I can’t see Nickelodeon putting the franchise back into his hands after that. Maybe Night will get back to making smaller more focused stories and get back into his groove, but only time will tell.
Missed Part 1? Check out our favorite M. Night scenes!