For our Thursday video review, let's all go to 'The Village':
“The Village” opened big last August, earning $50 million in one weekend. It fell just as hard, losing more than 67 percent of its audience by its second weekend.
Bad word of mouth, perhaps?
“The Village” is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest twisty thriller, with some grand ideas wrapped in a bunch of malarkey.
It’s set in an undetermined time, in a small village near some ominous woods. People talk in whispers and live in mortal fear of “Those We Do Not Speak Of,” mysterious monsters they actually spend quite a lot of time speaking of. Nobody in the village enters the woods, lest those they don’t speak of attack them.
But one intrepid villager (Joaquin Phoenix) is determined to defy the conventions, and go into the woods. The secret of these woods won’t come easily, though.
Moody and ominous, “The Village” features some great filmmaking, but flourishes of excellence don’t make up for a movie that never quite comes together. It’s so serious that it becomes hard to take seriously.
M. Night is dangerously close to being seen as a kind of one-tricky pony, whose movies are more gimmicky puzzles than solid storytelling. I quite liked “The Sixth Sense” and the underrated “Unbreakable,” but “Signs” and its limp ending fell flat. “The Village” is even less inspired, and its plot riddled with holes.
It’s a series of moody moments strung together without any sense of the big picture.
I did quite like Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance, as a spunky blind girl with surprising inner strength — although as written her character isn’t all that deep. Adrien Brody is merely embarrassing as a kind of “village idiot,” while Phoenix exudes a nice quiet strength as the movie’s ostensible hero.
It’s not entirely M. Night’s fault, but the fact is, people now watch his movies trying to figure out the “twist,” rather than absorbing the story. That’s no way to watch a movie.
“The Village’s” climax may be fairly predictable, but at its heart it’s saying something interesting about our society.
Shyamalan has big goals for his movies; possibly too big for his own good. Rumor has it his next film is an adaptation, of Yann Martel’s quirky novel “The Life Of Pi,” which could be just the twist his stalling career desperately needs.
** of four