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Latest Member: ChasMccue3 Forum  |  Information Exchange  |  Movie Reviews  |  Submitted Reader Reviews  |  wesley bLoggs presents... THE HAPPENING « previous next »
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Author Topic: wesley bLoggs presents... THE HAPPENING  (Read 3426 times)
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« on: December 08, 2009, 08:20:20 PM »

Theatrical Release: June 2008

Genre: Thriller
Sub-genre: M. Night Shyamalan thriller, so there should be a twist at the end that you makes your jaw drop and your head spin and you say out loud, "What?! No way!!" At least there should be that kind of twist.
Starring: Dirk Diggler (sans penis), John Leguizamo, Zooey Deschanel (this is her real name), and the wind. The mighty, vengeful, fear-inducing wind...
The overview: A crazy toxin that forces people to kill themselves in the most over-the-top fashion is infecting large cities. People leave the cities trying to get away from it, thinking it's a terrorist event but that doesn't seem to help. The resulting chaos along the northeastern seaboard results in smaller pockets of people running into more rural areas to get away from this killer airborne toxin. Sounds intense, doesn't it?
Well that's what I thought, too. My sister warned me, but did I listen? No way. Because I love M. Night Shyamalan movies. And so do a lot of people. Remember the first time you saw The Sixth Sense and at the end, when you found out he'd been dead the whole time, and the hair on your neck stood up and you thought it was one of the best movies ever? I even got a little of that feeling when I saw Unbreakable and Samuel L. Jackson turned out to be a crazy terrorist obsessed with becoming a comic book style villain. And I remember being so scared when I saw Signs for the first time, because aliens are the scariest things ever anyway, but I was also living alone in a trailer next to a corn field and I'd pee a little whenever an acorn would fall off the tree and roll down the metal trailer roof. I even liked The Village, when a lot of people said it sucked. I stood by Night then, and reminded people that you do slightly unorthodox things to stay on top in Hollywood and no one saw that twist coming in the end, did they? But then Lady In The Water happened. Unfortunately, I was in Iraq at the time and I committed to just buying this movie sight unseen because I was sure I wouldn't be disappointed. And I watched it by myself and I never spoke another word about it. I filed it in with my other DVD's and forgot about it until I posted it on eBay last year (I got no bids). So, the long-coming revelation is here.

This movie sucked worse than any movie I've seen in a very long time. Without exaggeration, I could watch every scene in this movie and tell you what sucks about it. Let's start with the premise. And I'll tell you right now, I'm gonna give away the whole movie... The premise of the story is that the plants in North America are releasing toxins into crowds of people as a means of defense, sort of like algae do in the ocean sometimes, resulting in the "red tide" (I would encourage you to Google it). The released toxin causes people to stop what they were doing and kill themselves as casually as buying milk. Now this is a highly unlikely scenario but so was Signs and The Village and it was cool because Night showed you how people might truly react in an otherworldly situation, given their circumstances, lending to the weight and sense of reality of the story. In this movie, you get the otherworldly scenario but it's STUPID, for starters, and the individual reactions of the characters aren't at all what any normal person would do. A guy fell off a roof in front of his construction crew and the crew looks back at him and says, very matter of fact, "Jenkins just fell off the roof," then they slowly walk over to his mangled body, and almost whisper into the radio, "We need a medic." And it's not just the character actors, it's the stars of this movie that drop the biggest deuce. John Leguizamo, I can't fault, he's decent, it's just bad writing that made him hand over his only child to a woman he didn't like in the first place so he could find his wife who he probably knew was dead anyway. And Mark Wahlberg, I'm surprised sucked it up so bad in this one. If his acting was the result of over-direction, then maybe I can excuse it. He was so stiff, so monotone, so incompetent, at one point, when the group he wasn't associated with started shooting themselves, he actually told his group to "Give me a minute. I need to think." This gunshot-then-gimme-a-minute banter played out for about 5 or 6 shots, till everyone was dead. So... I guess no need for a few more minutes to think, right? Problem solved!

Then there's the love interest, Alma, played by Zooey Deschanel... I hate her because she survives it. Even though she's still getting phone calls throughout this national epidemic from some unseen tool named Joey who she went on a date with, but didn't screw. And Alma's personality is more expressionless than the wind that's chasing them. She's dry. She's more monotone than tree bark. I wish she'd died in the beginning of the movie in order to notch up the action a little and add some emotion to Wahlberg's character. All in all, the acting in this film is so sub-par, I thought it was a joke. Like a high school production of Curse Of The Pharaoh's Kiss.

Along with the seemingly intentional bad acting, the plot is filled with holes big enough to drive a truckbomb through and where there aren't holes to aggravate you, there's always the incredibly bad writing. Some examples of the awful writing Night has reduced himself to...

- In order to advance the plot, this is how you find out what's killing everyone: One of the survivors happens to run a greenhouse and he gets to utter this gem of a line, "We're packing hot dogs for the road. You know, hot dogs get a bad rep. They gotta cool shape, they got protein. I think I know what's causing this. It's the plants. They can release chemicals." This conversation takes place inside a greenhouse. Am I the only person who finds this scenario to be ridiculous? If you know the plants are releasing chemicals, why don't we go hang out in my building full of plants and talk about hot dogs?

- At some point, two middle-school kids join the group. Then the crew happens upon a house, they try to force their way in, and a shotgun barrel comes through the window and kills the kids. I didn't even care. I didn't know these idiots five minutes ago. Did anyone mention their names? Not to mention this scene plays like a bad after-school movie, complete with slow motion yelling, "Noooooooooooooo!"

- As the survivors are driving around the back roads, they come to an intersection where bodies are blocking the road, so it's obvious that the toxin is now in this area. But they continue to drive around with the windows down! How Busch League is that?!

- At one point, Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and a 5-year-old girl are actually running from the wind.

- Don't miss Mark Wahlberg trying to make nice with a houseplant! If you talk like you're buddies, they won't try to kill you! Plants are evil but they're also pretty desperate for affection.

- In the end, there's an old farmhouse inhabited by a creepy, potentially crazy lady. She apparently doesn't like having company but still invites them in for supper. Then during dinner she smacks the hand of the 5-year-old girl (Bing Crosby-hard) when she reaches for a cookie and this action isn't really explained. It just happens. (Gasp!)

- The radio randomly tied to a fencepost? Best scene because it's the worst scene.

- When Mark W and Zooey D decide they can't run anymore and they should just accept their fate, they walk outside into the infected air but nothing happens. They nonchalantly walk back into the house and Mark W's voiceover says, "The event must've ended before we went outside." Are you kidding me?! The old lady just killed herself 10 minutes earlier!

The final comment on the writing is actually going to wrap up my review, since it has to do with the film's explanation of the plants releasing toxins and the cause of it. It's dumb enough to suppose that oak trees can communicate with sawgrass via chemicals they release spread by the wind, or that you can run away from said wind if the grass pasture you're in suddenly becomes "infected." In the end, I was hoping it would all be tied together by the explanation. Why did these plants suddenly decide to release suicide-inducing chemicals? I figured Night would be smarter than to go for the obvious Green angle. The explanation?

It was a random act of nature and we'll probably never fully understand it.

Are. You. Kidding me? I sat through an hour and a half of this steaming pile, hoping for some resolution at the end and this is what I get? It's the single laziest piece of script writing I've ever seen. There was some eluding to environmentalism but that's the overall lesson you get to take home with you: Nobody knows. Probably never will.

This movie was so incredibly awful in every respect, that I sent my sister a text towards the end and I asked her if it was all a big joke, because the acting and story were so bad. She sent back, "Maaaaaaybe..." So I was hopeful! I thought it would all wrap up and my sister was playing an elaborate joke on me and it was all gonna be revealed and my jaw would drop and my head would spin and I'd go, "No way!!" But then the credits rolled and I was only left with anger. Mostly with my sister. Dammit, Rachel. But I guess you couldn't have prepared me for how bad it really was. Nobody should watch this movie ever, unless they've read this blog first and know what they're getting into. Is it possible that, for some unknown reason, this movie was supposed to be this bad? I have to lean towards NO, only because I watched the Making Of featurettes to verify if there was any tongue-in-cheek, winking, or nudging involved in the production. Sadly, there is not. What you see is what you get. A famous Hollywood director with too much free reign who was allowed to make The Happening because nearly everything else he's done has been groundbreaking. But I know I'll think twice from now on about standing behind any movie written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Overall: 1 out of 10. It gets a point for the irony of having to watch all these people committing suicide and there I was, wishing I was running myself over with a lawnmower too...
Best Scene: Ugh. Not because it's any good but because it's the one where I realized this was the worst movie: The final group of 3 people is wandering around the rural countryside and they happen across a radio. Tied to a fencepost. In the middle of nowhere. And it works. And it's tuned to the emergency broadcast station.
What my wife said: Fortunately, I spared Jessi having to watch this movie. I think she would've come at me Chris Brown-style if I made her sit through this one.
Who would enjoy this movie: I found some people online who were wondering why people hated this movie. Their posted comments usually read like this:

i dont no y evry1 is dissin this move i dint think it was 2 bad sure mark wolberg could of done better but i myself personly enjoyed it maybe u just dont get it

 That last quote just made my spellcheck crash. Who would like this movie? Your ficus.

Watch it if you like: Better idea: Don't watch it.

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