Monday, June 10, 2013

Shyamalan, Please Stop

By Steve Evans

Film buffs mock the wretched cinematic exertions of Uwe Boll, who specializes in directing movie adaptations of video games, but M. Night Shyamalan is now the heir apparent to Ed Wood Jr.'s legacy as worst director in motion picture history. At least Wood's movies are entertaining. Plan 9 From Outer Space is a great comedy, even if it was never intended that way.

The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan's 1999 debut, can now be seen clearly as a fluke. Each of his seven subsequent films has been significantly worse than the picture it precedes -- no small achievement. The Shyamalan oeuvre is a clinic in sloppy writing and ludicrous plot twists, with movies featuring bored-looking (or merely puzzled) actors delivering bland dialog. How Shyamalan’s career lasted this long is one of the perverse mysteries of Hollywood. Virtually his entire output could be used in a festival of bad cinema:

Anyone who was surprised by The Village would have to be living in one.

Lady in the Water is possibly the most ridiculous non-comedy ever made; easily the low point in Paul Giamatti’s otherwise excellent career.

The Happening was a non-event. Killer plants? Day of the Triffids was an awful film about malevolent flora -- and still better than The Happening.

The Last Airbender might as well have been about a man suffering from terminal flatulence; ticket sales would have been no worse.

And now, we have the first certified bomb of 2013: After Earth. This Will Smith sci-fi snoozer, co-starring his son Jaden, is expected to recover less than half of the $240 million reportedly spent on production and marketing. Losses like that are sufficient to make studios think twice before greenlighting another Smith & son casting gimmick. Smith and his wife Jada produced the picture from a story credited to Smith, adapted into a screenplay co-written by Shyamalan.

With all these multi-hyphenate talents stirring the kettle, After Earth is a hodgepodge of philosophical gibberish, bland CGI effects, and dull characters/creatures with names like S'krell, Ursa, Senshi and Kitai Raige. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?

Kitty Rage?

Ho, ho.

For Shyamalan, finding work just got a whole lot tougher. He would be wise to return to Philly and get back to making somber little pictures with a supernatural flavor.

In The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment famously intoned, “I see dead people.”

After 14 years of shoddy Shyamalan pictures, in retrospect I see only stupidity and ridiculous over-reaching for an artistic ambition that was probably never there to begin with. Just like Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a forlorn character in Shyamalan's only good film.

Cinema Uprising copyright © 2013 by Steve Evans. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty much since he made Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense. He's dived bombed. I agree he should stop making movies or at least bring back Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis. I actually heard the other day that he is trying to redeem himself by making a After Earth 2. After Earth was laughable, I was waiting till the end to tell me that it was a joke and the real movie was going to start.


Cinema Uprising values comments and feedback from readers. Although we cannot reply to every message, we do read comments and take your thoughts into consideration as we continuously produce fresh content.