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Review: Lady in the Water

Because I love you, I'll try to save you some money. Just because we paid the movie theater doesn't mean that you need to throw good money after bad, after all.

Against my better judgment (we do such things for those we love), I went to see Lady in the Water because my husband wanted to see it. At least if I warn you, losing those two hours of my life does someone some good. I can mitigate the sensation I'm feeling by telling myself that I took one for the team.

It wasn't as bad as the critics have made it out to be, but I left the theater pissed off. I was disappointed. Signs left me pretty cold, and I'd put this at maybe a hair above that one. Plain and simple, I've seen better from this director. This is far from Shyamalan's best work.

99% of the time, I hate it when authors and directors break the fourth wall, and this movie fell firmly within that 99% majority. I hated the fact that Stephen King ruined the latter books in The Dark Tower story by doing it, and I didn't like it here. I think it was a miscalculation on Shyamalan's part to cast himself in a supporting role in this film, because it's very distracting. He's a visible director, and a significant portion of his audience (myself included), is going to find it annoying to keep going "Hey, that's M. Night Shyamalan. Oh, hey, that's M. Night Shyamalan." It's not that he's bad, he's not, it's just that every time you see him, it reminds you not only that you're watching a movie, but that it's his movie. He also has a character utter a line about "this is the part in a movie where X would happen ..."

If you're trying to get people to suspend disbelief and go with you into the fairy tale, it's probably best to not keep kicking them back to reality. I wanted to suspend disbelief. I really wanted to immerse myself. I wanted to give the director the benefit of the doubt and like his movie, but his choices kept breaking my immersion, which was exasperating.

The entire plot is somewhat thin. There's a lot of build-up without a lot of payoff. To Shyamalan's credit he at least stretches his formula a little bit: there's not much of a twist ... it's so minor that I'd hardly call it a twist at all.

You can wait for ... accidentally catching this one on television one night. No, not HBO -- just television. It's not horrible: I'm not saying avoid it entirely, but I found it very frustrating in that "I want to smack you because you should know better" sort of way.

At least Paul Giamatti was good: he gave a lot of warmth to his character.

M. Night, the next time you want to direct a fairy tale, stay behind the camera and give Neil Gaiman a call. He writes some very good ones.

It's almost August, and I still haven't seen anything better than V for Vendetta this year.

As a side note, I saw Robots this weekend on DVD. It looked good, but had a fairly simplistic story line. I'm more forgiving of that in a kid's movie, but I could've done without all the unexpected scatological humor.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
organfailure
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
Robots annoyed the piss out of me. It could have been so great... but like any animated character that Robin Williams plays it had to be completely over the top ridiculous and continual impresinations. The fecal humor got so old so fast. And at times the plot was incredibly insipid, even for a children's movie.

And when the 'hit me baby one more time' part came on, I had to punch myself in the face repeatedly.
pointedview
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
Definitely! I agree with you: I thought this role was way over the top, even for Robin Williams. It did seem like "Animated Kids Movie By the Numbers."
catarzyna
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
My Scathing Review!
M. Night Shyamalan is fast becoming a one/two hit wonder. I liked Unbreakable and the Sixth Sense but Signs was a steaming heap of celluloid. My husband and I part company on this movie and we rarely, if ever, disagree about movies. I feel Signs was entirely too contrived and The Village I saw through in about half a second. It was supposed to be a historical/period piece but there were things that gave it away to me with material culture, namely the greenhouse. I think he has good ideas but he doesn't know how to carry them through. I have been very vocal this time about my dislike because I didn't want to suffer through 2+ hours and waste my money.

I don't think M. Night Shyamalan should ever, ever, ever, ever act in any movie because he comes off stilted and fake. If he were not a director he would never have made it into any movie as an actor, maybe as an extra. He would be credited, "Man with envelope" or something similar. I've seen some of the home movies he made as a kid and his stuff has only gotten better because of his budget.

Thank you for allowing me this mini rant. ;-)
pointedview
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:27 am (UTC)
Re: My Scathing Review!
*laughs* Mini-rant all you want to. :)

Unbreakable is my very favorite of his movies, and I thought Sixth Sense was well-constructed. I agree with you on Signs; I actually sort of liked The Village, but I recognize that I'm in the minority on that one. :)
catarzyna
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: My Scathing Review!
I've been needing to let this out because I try to express my feelings to [Bad username: lupus_argentum"] and I think I offend. It is not too often that I am this vehement about someone. I do try to find redeeming qualities, I swear but sometimes the negative just boils over. I am a Virgo and one of our negative qualities is the ability to be overcritical and harsh. Not something to be too proud so I try to keep it to myself because I am not too fond of snark especially when it is attacking someone out right. This is why I avoid joining places like crochet_snark, I don't really see what they do as redeeming or good for my karma. The idea is to better oneself not sink to an all time new low. ;-)

After Signs I was a bit jaded for The Village but I saw Unbreakable after both and really liked it. The quality of his films is definitely going downhill. Perhaps he feels he has nothing left to prove.

mumpish
Jul. 31st, 2006 01:12 am (UTC)
Dear, I warned you when I refused to go see The Village. Shyamalan has a talent for simplistic gags. He caught us all looking once, and he extended his run by one movie by playying with some comic book tropes, but only cast and acting saved Unbreakable. Signs doesn't merit speaking of. He's a one-trick pony, and we've taken the ride already.
pointedview
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
*grins* Like I said, I went 'cause D. wanted to go: given my druthers, I would've waited for DVD.

Unbreakable is my very favorite by him. For me, it's not just the cast on that one, but I think it worked beautifully as an origin story. Just my opinion, of course.
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