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THE HAPPENING, 2008
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THE HAPPENING
Movie Review
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring by Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel
Review by Eli Manning



SYNOPSIS:

A paranoid thriller about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity.

REVIEW:

Most people who enter the movie theater to watch The Happening know that this is a film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (after all, his name is larger than the actual title on the poster). And you know that his films also have that twist ending (Signs, Six Sense). So no matter what is going on during the film, you keep watching and wondering what the twist will be.

But there must be some kind of substance and once again M. Night Shyamalan fails in giving us anything except his usual pompous themes where he basically tells us how to be better people. For some reason ever since his masterpiece The Sixth Sense, his films have felt flat. There just isn't any feeling you get for the characters and setting as you're left being uncomfortable the entire time.

This film is basically a Twilight Zone episode. Except that this film lasts 90 minutes when it really should be a 22 minute short film. There is seriously 68 minutes of complete nonsense happening in this film with 22 minutes of great theater and storytelling. But you throw great storytelling with bad storytelling and the bad will win. Another example of a man with too much power who needs an editor during the writing stage to take out the nonsense.

We follow science teacher Elliot Moore (played by Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (played by Zooey Deschanel - easily the best part of the film as this girl should be a star!) and an Innocent Little Girl in their care (Ashlyn Sanchez, who has two lines!) as they face down an epidemic of death rampaging through the Northeast.

The cause of the catastrophe is unknown - could be the terrorists, could be the government or just a good old case of global warning. Of course Shyamalan has his own theories of the world and he's hear to tell us. But usually people don't pay 10-15 dollars to hear someone spill out their beliefs for 90 minutes as it usually works the other way around. For now, Shyamalan is getting away with it, but after this bomb happens, I'm sure the studios will be resistant to hand over 55 million dollars and creative control to him.

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Watching this film did make me wonder how a director can go from The Six Sense to a film like this. The Six Sense works because he creates a world that is out of our usual world in many ways (a child seeing ghosts). So after he sets the tone, we are able to follow this new universe and be happy to do so.

Now M. Night's films are about our own reality with his ideals thrown in. That's why these films fail. We just don't care! No one wants to be told what to think, especially in the movies. We're hear to be entertained and if we learn something too, that's a bonus.

So people save your money or go see another film. The Happening just isn't Happening. In fact, it's the exact opposite of The Happening.

2 stars out of 4!

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